by J.D. Salinger
If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is
where I was born, an what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were
occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I
don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. In the firstplace, that stuff
bores me, and in the second place, my parents would have about two hemorrhages apiece
if I told anything pretty personal about them. They're quite touchy about anything like
that, especially my father. They're nice and all--I'm not saying that--but they're also
touchy as hell. Besides, I'm not going to tell you my whole goddam autobiography or
anything. I'll just tell you aboutthis madman stuff that happened to me around last
Christmas just before I got pretty run-down and had to come out here and take it easy. I
mean that's all I told D.B. about, and he's my brother and all. He's in Hollywood. That
isn't too far from this crumby place, and he comes over and visits me practically every
week end. He's going to drive me home when I go home next month maybe. He justgot a
Jaguar. One of those little English jobs that can do around two hundred miles an hour. It
cost him damn near four thousand bucks. He's got a lot of dough, now. He didn't use to.
He used to be just a regular writer, when he was home. He wrote this terrific book of
short stories, The Secret Goldfish, in case you never heard of him. The best one in it was
"The Secret Goldfish." It was aboutthis little kid that wouldn't let anybody look at his
goldfish because he'd bought it with his own money. It killed me. Now he's out in
Hollywood, D.B., being a prostitute. If there's one thing I hate, it's the movies. Don't even
mention them to me.
Where I want to start telling is the day I left Pencey Prep. Pencey Prep is this
school that's in Agerstown, Pennsylvania. You probably heard ofit. You've probably seen
the ads, anyway. They advertise in about a thousand magazines, always showing some
hotshot guy on a horse jumping over a fence. Like as if all you ever did at Pencey was
play polo all the time. I never even once saw a horse anywhere near the place. And
underneath the guy on the horse's picture, it always says: "Since 1888 we have been
molding boys into splendid,clear-thinking young men." Strictly for the birds. They don't
do any damn more molding at Pencey than they do at any other school. And I didn't know
anybody there that was splendid and clear-thinking and all. Maybe two guys. If that
many. And they probably came to Pencey that way.
Anyway, it was the Saturday of the football game with Saxon Hall. The game
with Saxon Hall was supposed to be a verybig deal around Pencey. It was the last game
of the year, and you were supposed to commit suicide or something if old Pencey didn't
win. I remember around three o'clock that afternoon I was standing way the hell up on
top of Thomsen Hill, right next to this crazy cannon that was in the Revolutionary War
and all. You could see the whole field from there, and you could see the two teamsbashing each other all over the place. You couldn't see the grandstand too hot, but you
could hear them all yelling, deep and terrific on the Pencey side, because practically the
whole school except me was there, and scrawny and faggy on the Saxon Hall side,
because the visiting team hardly ever brought many people with them.
There were never many girls at all at the football games. Only seniorswere
allowed to bring girls with them. It was a terrible school, no matter how you looked at it.
I like to be somewhere at least where you can see a few girls around once in a while, even
if they're only scratching their arms or blowing their noses or even just giggling or
something. Old Selma Thurmer--she was the headmaster's daughter--showed up at the
games quite often, but she wasn't...