This title was devised with the help of Portent. The story is true, that the girl quoted Salinger in her second or third letter to me. I thought I was lucky I got that far, because in the Y2K era snail mail was already rare.
I’m the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life. It’s awful. If I’m on my way to the store to buy a magazine, even, and somebody asks me where I’m going, I’m liable to say I’m going to the opera. It’s terrible.
– J. D. Salinger The Catcher in the Rye. Holden Caulfield in Chapter 3, in the wake of deceiving.
When I was in my early twenties, a little ahead of Y2K, I think, I paid a visit to Kingston, Ontario, where I noticed a girl, dressed like a punk rocker, sitting up on the curb, asking passerby’s to spare change. She was pretty, if I do say so myself, her hair dyed bright blue that matched the fishnets not doing a whole lot to keep her legs warm in the winter night, petite, and completely on her own.
I thought I would say hi to her. She must have seemed out of her mind to most everyone else, or perhaps just innocuous, but Kingston is a college town, and there are bright young girls everywhere. I think this particular girl was a singer in a band, or would be soon.
We chatted, we watched the street, we met a couple people. I would have liked to get off the streets, but where were we going to go? I’d just met her.
It took every ounce of confidence I had to keep up what I was passing off as charm, given the circumstances. It became a sort of a nice time. I probably should have taken her to the arcade up the street.
By morning I got from her an address for her mom, in Scarborough, from where I suppose it counted she had run away from, and although there weren’t even all that many letters from her, I think it was probably the second one from her to me where she put in ink the above quote from The Catcher in the Rye. All I could think when I got that letter was that the girl probably literally was a liar. Almost everybody lies, except maybe devout Buddhists, or others with that kind of mindset.
Since The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield has become a symbol for insubordination and tension and now remains among the most significant characters of twentieth-century American writing. The excellent TV character Jughead, in Riverdale, mentions in Season 4, Episode 8 The Catcher in the Rye, to Mrs. Burble. Following Archie’s lead, Jughead likewise hasn’t applied to any schools, and when he stops by Riverdale High to get his transcript, he gets a meeting with Mrs. Burble, regardless of his “Holden Caulfield stance on phony small talk.”
I wonder how Holden would feel about Facebook if he were an adolescent in the year 2020. Well, actually, I guess I know–he would hate it. Possibly if the issue was working it, he would abhor how Generation Z doesn’t have a similar eagerness for it that Millennials have.
Millennials are youthful enough to feel strong and astute, and they’ve been on the internet since right back when they were youngsters. Would Holden hate the specific act of asking a street girl how she was doing given that she might experience distress? Even that I guess he would, for the suffering that young girls go through when they run away, for an economic system necessitating that some young girls go on the run, for the fact of a college town itself even existing given that the tools of education are extensively available.
I am certain the young lady would have liked herself on Facebook if she met herself as another, and I am certain the girl felt as brilliant as those strolling past her. It didn’t appear to get her down. She had good karma.
I believe being a runaway underground rocker was what she needed to be, notwithstanding that it was unthinkable, I assume. I finally cried when I returned home the following day, as it truly seems to be a merciless world. Nothing was wrong, though, other than that twenty years later I’d be writing the story in a post inspired by Portent.
I’d had a comforter in my backpack. When I noticed the cold, I let her wrap it around her shoulders.
We went into the Burger King with that around her. There were muddy tracks on it from the slush on the restaurant floor when we left. Those mud stains came out in the wash.
In the nineteen nineties, we didn’t have Facebook. However, I wish I’d considered PCs in the school other than the negligible business I learned when I got around to signing in my last time in a study hall. It took me years beyond the nineties to cross that finish line, by the way.
Years later, while it was appalling that the confidence everybody had, to translate their lives into Facebook status posts and business page numbers, ended with what happened between the White House and Cambridge Analytica, I think the popularity of Facebook will return. The Wall Street Journal ran an idiosyncratic feature for its tech segment this week.
At least one American journalist is trying to rekindle the same enjoyment we had with Facebook up until the present administration in the White House. I am a modest Canadian, yet I needed to reproduce the experience for the individuals who see this.
My nephew’s twenty-first birthday was five days ago–he let my mom and dad know he was getting by. I wish him all the best.
The family business where I’ve been working has a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/LouthUnited