For J.D., With Love and Squalor

Dearest J.D.,

I hated the Catcher and the Rye. Maybe I was too prudish; I wasn’t yet not inclined to admit that I knew the first names of certain people. I believed adults organized things. I hated you when you were being hopelessly super-male and retiscent (sp?), and if I’d met you at a train station I would have emptied my face of all expression.

On a long car-ride to a wedding in Dallas many years later I read another one of your books and let me tell you, I was not impressed at first. Too clever, I thought. Lane was horrible, and you spent such a lot of time on people’s hands and foreheads. You taught me to want to launder tablecloths and smoke. Not that I ever did (I don’t have a working iron), but I wanted to. And (or but) what I’m trying to say is that those conversations were maybe the most real conversation I’ve read. I know they say that about Hemingway, but he would never list the contents of someone’s medicine cabinet and he was such a faux-Spaniard at heart.

You didn’t leave kind of terribly fascinating, syntaxy droppings. At least, I don’t think so, even though someone’s prying open that drawer in your house. I hope that when you left the place you knew you were leaving it. I doubt anyone will write “fuck you” on your tombstone. I bet instead they’ll  show up with cigarettes and chicken sandwiches. Maybe a bathrobe.

Write a letter if you can—an overwritten, teaching, repetitious, opinionated, remonstrative, condescending, and embarrassing one. If they make a play of your life I doubt it’ll be beautiful, but I’ll rent a tuxedo and a rhinestone hat and solemnly come round to the stage door with a bouquet of snapdragons.




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