You probably want to know how a goddam jerk like me got into Yale. What my Common App was, that crap. I’m sure you heard about how I got kicked out of Pencey Prep — gee, I reckon every high schooler in America’s heard that story by now. That and “Kill The Mockingbird” or whatever. That’s all phony, though, and you know I’m right. Half the kids pay people to write their Common Apps. That stuff bores me to death. I’ll just tell you about this lunatic night I had at Toad’s on a Wednesday.
I was drunk as hell off the IPAs I told my FroCo to buy me. I swear to god, when I’m in a mood I’m a swell actor. I can get people to do all kinds of things. Me and this girl Emily walked over and I danced the whole way there. I was wearing this tweed cap I yanked from my dad’s closet, and it was corny as hell, but at least no one would say I was an Econ major. I thought athletic New England high schoolers were the phoniest bastards in the world. I was wrong: It’s Econ majors. They have nice hair, though. Handsome as hell.
Emily was real sweet. You’d like her. That night, she had this make-up on, and it just killed me. She was pretty old, but she had this terrific figure, and if you really got her going, you’d see she was a genius. When we got to Toad’s, I realized I was real tired. I wanted a coke, or a hiking trip or something. I felt so lonesome, all of a sudden. I almost wished I were dead.
“Hey, do you wanna go to East Rock or something? The cemetery’s real easy to bust into,” I said.
“Holden, I just want to dance. Can’t you stop being so juvenile, just for one evening?” said Emily. Strictly a phony.
I certainly began to feel like a prize horse’s ass, standing there in my brown shoes.
“Please. I’m lonesome as hell. No kidding.” I laughed, so she didn’t think I was in love with her or anything. Then we went inside. The whole thing was fun, but if you think about it too much, it’ll depress you. I danced like a maniac, like I was a bull in Spain with a spear in my ass. Then I went to the bathroom. There was this giant mirror, and I pretended all the sweat patches I saw in the mirror were bloodstains from gunshot wounds. I staggered around, like some punk had just plugged me in the guts. I was sort of crying. I don’t know why.
I went back to the dance floor. There was this girl with pink hair that I was hot for, she was dancing, but I felt like such a sonuvabitch that I couldn’t let her see me. Besides, I was concealing my bullet wounds. I figured I’d go outside and buy flowers for Emily. In case I died and all, and I never got the chance to let her know she was a genius. God, when I saw how much they charge you for any old crap at G-Heav, I could have smashed the whole shop up. So I just stole a bouquet. They didn’t catch me, but I wish they did, in a way.
I came back to Toad’s, but they wouldn’t let me in. I saw Emily on the corner of York and Elm, and she was necking this guy with the squarest jaw you ever saw. It was sort of funny, in a way. I wondered if my architecture professor was awake. I was gonna give her the flowers, as a joke, so I walked to her house. Instead I wrote “Fuck you” on her door. As I walked back past Toad’s up to Yale Health, it started to pour rain. I was only wearing a shirt, but I wasn’t cold. I had a crazy headache. And I think I was more depressed than I ever was in my whole life. I put on my sunglasses so I could feel like a kooky Harlem jazz piano player. They’re the supreme phonies, really. I laughed when I got to thinking how the health center overlooks the cemetery.
My ass was all soggy when I sat on the grass across from the new colleges. The construction site — those new colleges —- that’s crazy. You see all those cables and pillars, going up and across and nowhere. I felt in my pocket and found a damp oatmeal cookie I’d swiped from the dining halls. I ate it and sang to myself a little. God, I wish you could have been there.