Catcher in the Lie

Story Sent in by Elizabeth:

Back in college, I met Rich. He was a pretty quiet guy with whom I shared some mutual friends. Back then, I performed guitar at a few local venues, and he surprised me one night by showing up to hear me play. Afterward, I sat down with him at a table to chat, and he asked me out on a date for that forthcoming weekend.

The date started on a windy afternoon. The plan was to walk from campus into town for coffee or an early dinner.

During the walk, I noticed something odd about Rich, and it came up pretty quickly. He'd say, "So, I've started studying for my chemistry final already. I know it's crazy." "I got a B on my last test. It's crazy." "I'm going home for the holidays. I know it's crazy."

His usage of the word "crazy" with every statement was on the order of berserk. When he finally said, "I'm so glad that we're out together. It's fun, and a little crazy," I replied, "Is everything crazy?"

He stopped walking and stared into space, as if actually considering it. He said, "Not everything. Everything is phony, but that's also kind of crazy. It's crazy, you know?"

I asked him, "Did someone read Catcher in the Rye lately?"

He said, "No. Sorry. I don't know what a catcher in the rye is." He hurried on, and I followed him.

At dinner, he continued with his Holden Caulfield-like tirades. "You know what I hate?" he asked me, "Phony people. They're everywhere. It's crazy."

I interjected, "You mean, people trying to be something that they're not?"

"Exactly. It's crazy."

"Like Holden Caulfield?"

"Is he in your math class? I don't know him. He crazy?"

I frowned at Rich. Why he was pretending to be Holden, I couldn't really guess. What clinched it was when he asked me about my work with kids.

"You've worked with kids?" he asked.

"I volunteered at my old nursery school through a high school program. I–"

"I've worked with kids. It's crazy. In fact, I've saved a few of their lives."

Finally, something redeemable. "You have? Really?"

"Yeah. I was advisor on a ball team and we'd always play on a cliff. The kids would always hit the ball too far and I'd have to stop them from falling off. I know it's crazy–"

I laughed, long and hard. "Oh my God, you're so playing Holden Caulfield. Why?"

He shifted around in his seat. "I have no idea who this Holden guy is. If you're so into him, maybe you should be out on a date with him, instead."

"I am on a date with him," I giggled, "Can't you just be yourself?"

"I'm not this Holden guy," he said, "I have no idea who he is, or what this catcher in the rye bread is all about. Sounds crazy, and I'll bet Holden's a phony."

I laughed again. He repeated, "Holden's a phony. So you see, I can't be him."


Dinner was pretty quiet after that. I made the best of it, and afterward, when he suggested going back to his room to watch a movie, I told him that I couldn't, that I had to call my little brother Allie and sister Phoebe.

He nodded and replied, "You have siblings named Allie and Phoebe? That's crazy. I have siblings with the same names. That's crazy."

"It sure is. Good night."

We didn't go out on any other dates, but I'm wondering that if I had, if he would continue to play as Holden or if he would've been a different character from literature. Crazy.


  1. This one was totally a dare. Although I think choosing Holden Caulfield was playing it safe. It would be funnier to go out on a date playing Jack Torrance, or Barnaby Rudge, or anyone else whose behavior is really strange.

  2. Wasn't Allie dead? Also, why would he want to be Holden? I think he was a spoiled brat.

  3. I like that she was immediately able to pick out what he was up to yet still decided to play along for an entire evening. Crazy.

  4. Geez, everyone always calls "dare" or "prank" around here. I really don't believe that many people are going out on dates just to mess with other people. A few, yes, but not as many as the comments on here claim.

  5. Ugh, I loathe people like this. They start by playing a good joke (which is funny for about the first 12 minutes) but don't know when to quit because they suffer from the delusion that the joke just keeps getting funnier over time. And as for the OP, did you really have to spend the ENTIRE evening on this date? Couldn't you have just tazed him in the nuts at the halfway point? If you don't practice aversion therapy on socially retarded people like this, they'll never learn to improve themselves! (Plus, Holden Caulfield was really a bit of a whiner and I think it would be very gratifying to taze a flesh-and-blood representation of him.) ;-)

  6. I am 100% with Wolfie that tazering jackass in the nutsack would've been totally appropriate.

  7. Not all bad dates may be dares or pranks, but this one? Is.

  8. I think she was on a date with Mark David Chapman.

  9. Yeah this would have flown right over my head, I've never read Catcher in the Rye XD I would have thought he was trying to be a cool beatnik or something. Sigh. I'm so un-literatured.

    This makes me think of guys like Sherman in American Pie who cling so hard to one shtick for picking up women. But according to those movies Sherman still found his lobster who thought his act was charming, so there's hope for Holden Caulfield yet.

  10. I really wanna hear the other side of this story. I would bet that she accused him of acting like this character after one little thing and he decided to go with it for the rest of the night just to irritate her. I think she was the one who had just read Catcher in the Rye and wanted to reference it, so she grabbed on to the first thing. She sounds like a bitch.

  11. I never read the book. That's what I get for being a science major. But I agree she should have tazed him in the nuts long before the date was over.


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