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The Catcher in the What? (standard:humor, 1028 words)
Author: Ian HobsonAdded: Oct 12 2004Views/Reads: 2298/0Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
If you've read J. D. Salinger's 'The Catcher in the Rye', you may make some sense of this. If not… best read something else.

The Catcher in the What? 

©2004 Ian Hobson 

I've just been reading old J. D. Salinger's 'The Catcher in the Rye'. 
I'm about half way through.  I know it's supposed to be a really good 
book and all - and all and all and all, for Chrissake - and it does 
have some amusing bits in it.  Like when Holden - he's the main 
character in the story - wakes up one of his fellow students - the one 
who doesn't clean his teeth properly - to ask him what the routine is 
for joining a monastery.  But, I don't really see what all the fuss is 
about.  Perhaps in its day - it was first published in about 1945 - it 
was pretty cool.  Did they say 'pretty cool' back in 1945?  I don't 
know.  Maybe they just said 'the bee's knees' and crap like that. 

Anyway, so far, I wouldn't put in the top ten books I've ever read. 
Though perhaps I should finish reading it before I decide.  But perhaps 
I'm just one of those morons old J. D. keeps talking about and that's 
why I don't see why the book's so great.  I don't think I'm a moron 
though.  I think I'm pretty smart.  At least, my friends tell me I'm 
pretty smart.  Not that I have that many friends.  But most of those 
that I have say I'm pretty smart.  Those that don't aren't really my 
friends.  I just let them think that they're my friends, but they're 
not.  They're just morons.  I mean REAL morons.  Like this guy at work 
who keeps borrowing my newspaper.  You'd think he'd buy one of his own 
instead of borrowing mine all the time.  Goddam moron. 

Anyway, my wife, she read the book a month or two back, she says I
should pretend to be a young person when I'm reading it.  That way I'll 
understand it better, you know, see it from Holden's point of view and 
all.  In the book, he's about seventeen and he's just been thrown out 
of high school and all.  Is that what they call school for 
seventeen-year-olds in the US?  High school?  I think it is, or maybe 
it's college.  I live in Yorkshire in the UK.  When I was seventeen, I 
was working, serving an engineering apprenticeship, for Chrissake.  Now 
I'm fifty-three, so that was a long time ago.  But I can still remember 
it.  I can still see the faces of some of the other apprentices.  The 
ones that I was in the apprentice school with.  Now most of THEM really 
WERE morons. 

Take this guy Andrew Benson.  He was the biggest goddam moron of the
lot.  He was always going on about his sexual conquests.  The rest of 
us never knew whether to believe him or not.  Though he was a year or 
two older than the rest of us.  I don't know why - perhaps it was 
because he was born before we were – but he was older than the other 
apprentices.  And he was pretty handsome I suppose, old Benson, and 
definitely in love with himself.  That's what made him such a big 
goddam moron.  I hated him.  I'd imagine myself walking right up to him 
and saying 'Hi Benson, ya sonuvabitch,' then smacking him right in the 
mouth.  He wouldn't duck or anything.  My fist would just connect with 
his chin and he'd fall flat on his back and then he'd beg me not to hit 
him anymore.  Actually I probably wouldn't have said 'ya sonuvabitch', 
it sounds a bit too American.  Though I did watch a lot of American TV 
in those days.  Still do, well, movies anyway.  In those days there 
were lots of TV westerns, like Bonanza and Wagon Train and The 
Virginian and all.  I think I liked The Virginian best.  Though my 
favourite character in it was Trampas. 

Anyway, I suppose they weren't all morons, the other apprentices.  Some
of them were okay.  One of them was my best friend.  His name was 
Peter.  Old Peter was always broke on account of spending all his money 
on his scooter.  He wasn't a mod or anything.  He just liked scooters.  
I used to share my lunch with him if he couldn't afford to buy any.  I 
saw him on television a few years ago.  He was being interviewed in the 
street or somewhere, by one of those TV programs that interview people 
in the street. 

Anyway, we were only in the apprentice school for a year.  Then we went
back to the three engineering companies in the group that employed us.  
Then we got to work with some REAL morons.  You wouldn't believe some 
of the old guys.  They used to kill me.  They were always taking 
pinches of snuff.  One guy used to take a pinch of snuff and then he'd 
get an itch in his ear and he'd scratch it and end up with snuff in his 
ear.  Another guy used to sing out loud, but he couldn't sing.  And he 
only knew about three words of a song, and he'd just keep singing the 
same three words over and over, about eight thousand times.  I remember 
when I was in my final year as an apprentice, George, my charge-hand 
said to me 'You know, there's now't so queer as folk.  Thu's only you 
and me in this place what's reet...  And you're a bit queer.'  That's 
how people talked in Yorkshire in those days.  Some people still talk 
like that.  He was okay, old George.  I didn't mind working for him, 
too much. 

Anyway, I think my wife was right about needing to be in a young frame
of mind and all, when reading The Catcher in the Rye.  It's not a very 
long book - and it'd be a lot shorter if there weren't so many goddam 
'and alls' in it.  Maybe I'll read a bit more.  I've just got to the 
bit where Holden is about to go on a date and all, after having a 
conversation about Romeo and Juliet with two nuns.  I wonder what the 
Rye is and who catches what. 


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