Monday, April 3, 2006

Don't Ever Tell Anybody Anything

catcher.jpgIf you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was when I first heard about Catcher in the Rye, and what my lousy childhood was like and all that Holden Caulfield kind of crap.

When I was about 13, Susan and I flew by ourselves from LA to visit our grandparents in Lexington, KY. Our cousin, Karen V, who was about Susan’s age (16 or so) was there also, visiting from Evansville, IN. One day Karen happened to mention that she had read “Catcher in the Rye” as a school assignment. She described it as being an engrossing story about a boy who was having a breakdown while trying to deal with adolescence.

My Grandmother looked as if all her saliva had just turned to lemon juice. She told us that she had picked up that book at her daughter’s apartment one day. “I counted 12 ‘goddam's on one page,” she reported, “and I decided I didn’t care to read the book.”

For whatever reason, I left before Susan did, flying back to LA with a stopover in Pittsburgh. Upon arival in Pittsburgh I went directly to a book stand and bought “Catcher in the Rye”. Not only did it contain a plenitude of 'goddam's, it had a couple 'fuck you's too. If you had a million years to do it, you couldn't rub out even half the "Fuck you" signs in the world.

Being a 13-year-old, fairly-well-adjusted, LA boy in 1969, I naturally identified with Holden Caulfield, the 16-year-old, depressed, NY kid from 1949. I guess it was that universal desire to avoid becoming an adult. What I had to do, I had to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff. That's all I'd do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all.

Maybe it was just that he was a rebel that said bad words. If you want to know the truth, I don’t know what I think about it.