me a pain in the ass. You should've heard the crowd, though, when he was finished. You
would've puked. They went mad. They were exactly the same morons that laugh like
hyenas in the movies at stuff that isn't funny. I swear to God, if I were a piano player or
an actor or something and all those dopes thought I was terrific, I'd hate it. I wouldn't
even want them to clap for me. People always clap for the wrong things. If I were a piano
player, I'd play it in the goddam closet. Anyway, when he was finished, and everybody
phony, humble bow. Like as if he was a helluva humble guy, besides being a terrific
piano player. It was very phony--I mean him being such a big snob and all. In a funny
way, though, I felt sort of sorry for him when he was finished. I don't even think he
knows any more when he's playing right or not. It isn't all his fault. I partly blame all
those dopes that clap their heads off--they'd foul up anybody, if you gave them a chance.
Anyway, it made me feel depressed and lousy again, and I damn near got my coat back
and went back to the hotel, but it was too early and I didn't feel much like being all alone.
They finally got me this stinking table, right up against a wall and behind a
goddam post, where you couldn't see anything. It was one of those tiny little tables that if
the people at the next table don't get up to let you by--and they never do, the bastards--
you practically have to climb into your chair. I ordered a Scotch and soda, which is my
favorite drink, next to frozen Daiquiris. If you were only around six years old, you could
get liquor at Ernie's, the place was so dark and all, and besides, nobody cared how old
you were. You could even be a dope fiend and nobody'd care.
I was surrounded by jerks. I'm not kidding. At this other tiny table, right to my
left, practically on top of me, there was this funny-looking guy and this funny-looking
girl. They were around my age, or maybe just a little older. It was funny. You could see
they were being careful as hell not to drink up the minimum too fast. I listened to their
conversation for a while, because I didn't have anything else to do. He was telling her
about some pro football game he'd seen that afternoon. He gave her every single goddam
play in the whole game--I'm not kidding. He was the most boring guy I ever listened to.
And you could tell his date wasn't even interested in the goddam game, but she was even
feel so sorry for them sometimes. Sometimes I can't even look at them, especially if
they're with some dopey guy that's telling them all about a goddam football game. On my
right, the conversation was even worse, though. On my right there was this very Joe
All those Ivy League bastards look alike. My father wants me to go to Yale, or maybe
Princeton, but I swear, I wouldn't go to one of those Ivy League colleges, if I was dying,
for God's sake. Anyway, this Joe Yale-looking guy had a terrific-looking girl with him.
Boy, she was good-looking. But you should've heard the conversation they were having.
In the first place, they were both slightly crocked. What he was doing, he was giving her
a feel under the table, and at the same time telling her all about some guy in his dorm that
had eaten a whole bottle of aspirin and nearly committed suicide. His date kept saying to
him, "How horrible . . . Don't, darling. Please, don't. Not here." Imagine giving somebody
a feel and telling them about a guy committing suicide at the same time! They killed me.
I certainly began to feel like a prize horse's ass, though, sitting there all by myself.
There wasn't anything to do except smoke and drink. What I did do, though, I told the
waiter to ask old Ernie if he'd care to join me for a drink. I told him to tell him I was
D.B.'s brother. I don't think he ever even gave him my message, though. Those bastards
never give your message to anybody.
All of a sudden, this girl came up to me and said, "Holden Caulfield!" Her name
was Lillian Simmons. My brother D.B. used to go around with her for a while. She had
very big knockers.
"Hi," I said. I tried to get up, naturally, but it was some job getting up, in a place
like that. She had some Navy officer with her that looked like he had a poker up his ass.
"How marvelous to see you!" old Lillian Simmons said. Strictly a phony. "How's
your big brother?" That's all she really wanted to know.
"He's fine. He's in Hollywood."
"In Hollywood! How marvelous! What's he doing?"
"I don't know. Writing," I said. I didn't feel like discussing it. You could tell she
thought it was a big deal, his being in Hollywood. Almost everybody does. Mostly people
who've never read any of his stories. It drives me crazy, though.
"How exciting," old Lillian said. Then she introduced me to the Navy guy. His
name was Commander Blop or something. He was one of those guys that think they're
being a pansy if they don't break around forty of your fingers when they shake hands with
you. God, I hate that stuff. "Are you all alone, baby?" old Lillian asked me. She was
blocking up the whole goddam traffic in the aisle. You could tell she liked to block up a
lot of traffic. This waiter was waiting for her to move out of the way, but she didn't even
notice him. It was funny. You could tell the waiter didn't like her much, you could tell
even the Navy guy didn't like her much, even though he was dating her. And I didn't like
her much. Nobody did. You had to feel sort of sorry for her, in a way. "Don't you have a
date, baby?" she asked me. I was standing up now, and she didn't even tell me to sit
down. She was the type that keeps you standing up for hours. "Isn't he handsome?" she
said to the Navy guy. "Holden, you're getting handsomer by the minute." The Navy guy
told her to come on. He told her they were blocking up the whole aisle. "Holden, come
join us," old Lillian said. "Bring your drink."
"I was just leaving," I told her. "I have to meet somebody." You could tell she was
just trying to get in good with me. So that I'd tell old D.B. about it.
when you see him."
Then she left. The Navy guy and I told each other we were glad to've met each
other. Which always kills me. I'm always saying "Glad to've met you" to somebody I'm
not at all glad I met. If you want to stay alive, you have to say that stuff, though.
After I'd told her I had to meet somebody, I didn't have any goddam choice except
to leave. I couldn't even stick around to hear old Ernie play something halfway decent.
But I certainly wasn't going to sit down at a table with old Lillian Simmons and that Navy
guy and be bored to death. So I left. It made me mad, though, when I was getting my
coat. People are always ruining things for you.
t do it
because I felt like walking or anything. It was more because I didn't feel like getting in
and out of another taxicab. Sometimes you get tired of riding in taxicabs the same way
atter how far or
how high up. When I was a kid, I used to walk all the way up to our apartment very
frequently. Twelve stories.
You wouldn't even have known it had snowed at all. There was hardly any snow
on the sidewalks. But it was freezing cold, and I took my red hunting hat out of my
pocket and put it on--I didn't give a damn how I looked. I even put the earlaps down. I
wished I knew who'd swiped my gloves at Pencey, because my hands were freezing. Not
that I'd have done much about it even if I had known. I'm one of these very yellow guys. I
try not to show it, but I am. For instance, if I'd found out at Pencey who'd stolen my
gloves, I probably would've gone down to the crook's room and said, "Okay. How 'bout
handing over those gloves?" Then the crook that had stolen them probably would've said,
his voice very innocent and all, "What gloves?" Then what I probably would've done, I'd
have gone in his closet and found the gloves somewhere. Hidden in his goddam galoshes
or something, for instance. I'd have taken them out and showed them to the guy and said,
"I suppose these are your goddam gloves?" Then the crook probably would've given me
y life. If
they're yours, take 'em. I don't want the goddam things." Then I probably would've just
stood there for about five minutes. I'd have the damn gloves right in my hand and all, but
I'd feel I ought to sock the guy in the jaw or something--break his goddam jaw. Only, I
wouldn't have the guts to do it. I'd just stand there, trying to look tough. What I might do,
I might say something very cutting and snotty, to rile him up--instead of socking him in
the jaw. Anyway if I did say something very cutting and snotty, he'd probably get up and
come over to me and say, "Listen, Caulfield. Are you calling me a crook?" Then, instead
of saying, "You're goddam right I am, you dirty crooked bastard!" all I probably would've
said would be, "All I know is my goddam gloves were in your goddam galoshes." Right
away then, the guy would know for sure that I wasn't going to take a sock at him, and he
probably would've said, "Listen. Let's get this straight. Are you calling me a thief?" Then
I probably would've said, "Nobody's calling anybody a thief. All I know is my gloves
were in your goddam galoshes." It could go on like that for hours. Finally, though, I'd
leave his room without even taking a sock at him. I'd probably go down to the can and
sneak a cigarette and watch myself getting tough in the mirror. Anyway, that's what I
thought about the whole way back to the hotel. It's no fun to he yellow. Maybe I'm not all
yellow. I don't know. I think maybe I'm just partly yellow and partly the type that doesn't
give much of a damn if they lose their gloves. One of my troubles is, I never care too
much when I lose something--it used to drive my mother crazy when I was a kid. Some
guys spend days looking for something they lost. I never seem to have anything that if I
lost it I'd care too much. Maybe that's why I'm partly yellow. It's no excuse, though. It
really isn't. What you should be is not yellow at all. If you're supposed to sock somebody
in the jaw, and you sort of feel like doing it, you should do it. I'm just no good at it,
him in the jaw. I hate fist fights. I don't mind getting hit so much--although I'm not crazy
about it, naturally--but what scares me most in a fist fight is the guy's face. I can't stand
looking at the other guy's face, is my trouble. It wouldn't be so bad if you could both be
blindfolded or something. It's a funny kind of yellowness, when you come to think of it,
but it's yellowness, all right. I'm not kidding myself.
The more I thought about my gloves and my yellowness, the more depressed I
I'd only had three drinks at Ernie's, and I didn't even finish the last one. One thing I have,
it's a terrific capacity. I can drink all night and not even show it, if I'm in the mood. Once,
at the Whooton School, this other boy, Raymond Goldfarb, and I bought a pint of Scotch
and drank it in the chapel one Saturday night, where nobody'd see us. He got stinking, but
I hardly didn'
bed, but I didn't really have to--I forced myself.
Anyway, before I got to the hotel, I started to go in this dumpy-looking bar, but
two guys came out, drunk as hell, and wanted to know where the subway was. One of
them was this very Cuban-looking guy, and he kept breathing his stinking breath in my
face while I gave him directions. I ended up not even going in the damn bar. I just went
back to the hotel.
The whole lobby was empty. It smelled like fifty million dead cigars. It really did.
wished I was dead.
Then, all of a sudden, I got in this big mess.
The first thing when I got in the elevator, the elevator guy said to me, "Innarested
in having a good time, fella? Or is it too late for you?"
"How do you mean?" I said. I didn't know what he was driving at or anything.
"Innarested in a little tail t'night?"
"Me?" I said. Which was a very dumb answer, but it's quite embarrassing when
somebody comes right up and asks you a question like that.
"How old are you, chief?" the elevator guy said.
"Why?" I said. "Twenty-two."
"Uh huh. Well, how 'bout it? Y'innarested? Five bucks a throw. Fifteen bucks the
whole night." He looked at his wrist watch. "Till noon. Five bucks a throw, fifteen bucks
"Okay," I said. It was against my principles and all, but I was feeling so depressed
I didn't even think. That's the whole trouble. When you're feeling very depressed, you
can't even think.
"Okay what? A throw, or till noon? I gotta know."
"Just a throw."
"Okay, what room ya in?"
I looked at the red thing with my number on it, on my key. "Twelve twenty-two,"
I said. I was already sort of sorry I'd let the thing start rolling, but it was too late now.
"Okay. I'll send a girl up in about fifteen minutes." He opened the doors and I got
"Hey, is she good-looking?" I asked him. "I don't want any old bag."
"No old bag. Don't worry about it, chief."
"Who do I pay?"
"Her," he said. "Let's go, chief." He shut the doors, practically right in my face.
I went to my room and put some water on my hair, but you can't really comb a
crew cut or anything. Then I tested to see if my breath stank from so many cigarettes and
the Scotch and sodas I drank at Ernie's. All you do is hold your hand under your mouth
and blow your breath up toward the old nostrils. It didn't seem to stink much, but I
brushed my teeth anyway. Then I put on another clean shirt. I knew I didn't have to get
all dolled up for a prostitute or anything, but it sort of gave me something to do. I was a
If you want to know the truth, I'm a virgin. I really am. I've had quite a few opportunities
to lose my virginity and all, but I've never got around to it yet. Something always
happens. For instance, if you're at a girl's house, her parents always come home at the
wrong time--or you're afraid they will. Or if you're in the back seat of somebody's car,
there's always somebody's date in the front seat--some girl, I mean--that always wants to
know what's going on all over the whole goddam car. I mean some girl in front keeps
turning around to see what the hell's going on. Anyway, something always happens. I
came quite close to doing it a couple of times, though. One time in particular, I
remember. Something went wrong, though --I don't even remember what any more. The
thing is, most of the time when you're coming pretty close to doing it with a girl--a girl
that isn't a prostitute or anything, I mean--she keeps telling you to stop. The trouble with
me is, I stop. Most guys don't. I can't help it. You never know whether they really want
you to stop, or whether they're just scared as hell, or whether they're just telling you to
stop so that if you do go through with it, the blame'll be on you, not them. Anyway, I
keep stopping. The trouble is, I get to feeling sorry for them. I mean most girls are so
dumb and all. After you neck them for a while, you can really watch them losing their
brains. You take a girl when she really gets passionate, she just hasn't any brains. I don't
know. They tell me to stop, so I stop. I always wish I hadn't, after I take them home, but I
keep doing it anyway.
big chance, in a way. I figured if she was a prostitute and all, I could get in some practice
on her, in case I ever get married or anything. I worry about that stuff sometimes. I read
this book once, at the Whooton School, that had this very sophisticated, suave, sexy guy
in it. Monsieur Blanchard was his name, I can still remember. It was a lousy book, but
Europe, and all he did in his spare time was beat women off with a club. He was a real
rake and all, but he knocked women out. He said, in this one part, that a woman's body is
like a violin and all, and that it takes a terrific musician to play it right. It was a very
corny book--I realize that--but I couldn't get that violin stuff out of my mind anyway. In a
way, that's why I sort of wanted to get some practice in, in case I ever get married.
Caulfield and his Magic Violin, boy. It's corny, I realize, but it isn't too corny. I wouldn't
mind being pretty good at that stuff. Half the time, if you really want to know the truth,
looking for, for God's sake, if you know what I mean. Take this girl that I just missed
having sexual intercourse with, that I told you about. It took me about an hour to just get
her goddam brassiere off. By the time I did get it off, she was about ready to spit in my
Anyway, I kept walking around the room, waiting for this prostitute to show up. I
kept hoping she'd be good-looking. I didn't care too much, though. I sort of just wanted to
get it over with. Finally, somebody knocked on the door, and when I went to open it, I
had my suitcase right in the way and I fell over it and damn near broke my knee. I always
pick a gorgeous time to fall over a suitcase or something.
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