Tuesday, October 31, 2006

When You Were Young, Mr. Brightside

When I first met Holden Caulfield, which was the summer before my second year in high school, I hated him. He was too erratic, too punk, too alien for my taste. I just threw the book down the bed and wondered why these punk guys just don’t live normal. I was straight then—ears chock full of OPM, in plain jeans, plain shirts, and classic curly hair. Dammit, I didn’t even cuss.

I came across David Copperfield about the same time as Caulfield. Now, David was sensible. He lived a straightforward life—he studied well, worked at a comfortable career, got a beautiful wife, bred kids—the works. He was what I wanted to be. Okay, that in itself is weird, which would smudge the claim that I was ‘straight then’. I mean, what 14-year old idiot would want to be David Copperfield when the rest of the 14-year old world wanted to be Holden Caulfield?


Besides pointing out that terrible fact, that I was an idiot even at 14, I would like to emphasize an ever more upsetting (amusing?) fact. After four years, in college and all, I still want to be an idiot. When the rest of the 18-year old world is plotting on how to become the next David Copperfield, I now want to become Holden Caulfield.

That’s hilarious! Really, I’m laughing my head off. These shenanigans remind me of a poem by A.E. Houseman:

Oh, When I Was In Love with You

Oh, when I was in love with you
Then I was clean and brave.
And miles around the wonder grew,
How well did I behave.

And now the fancy passes by;
And nothing will remain.
And miles around they say that I
Am quite myself again.

Shit, the world is inverted don’t you think? Or is it just my own customized world we’re talking about, maybe. I have my fancies, and quite a lot of them (if I do say so myself). I don’t know which is fancy, and which is love—sometimes.

I was so sure then! I knew what I wanted to be, what I wanted to do. Well, I still know, but I’m not so sure these days. I’m not talking about romantic love per se. It’s just now that I’m wanting to be Holden Caulfield, I’ve got to change my plans. Maybe allow for an office which would let in a punk in fishnets and purple nails.

Now is this punk thing just a passing fancy? And who am I really, a Lizette slash David Copperfield or a Liz slash Holden Caulfield? Oh, humour me honey. I’ve got to indulge in idle thinking such as this at least once a year.


Anonymous Adam Mordo said...

Idle thinking? I beg to differ. Ruminations about self and conformity, expressed through the stark contrast of 2 literary figures that few people even know, do not strike me at all as idle. Then you appropriately throw in a poet that I admittedly am not too familiar with. I must say I am impressed. Well put Liz, very well put indeed.

More on the topic though, I wonder, what stops you from being both? The endeavor of becoming David Copperfield can be so sane that it can drive one crazy. We therefore need a bit of Holden in all of us.

10:26 AM  
Blogger lizette said...

youre probably the only person who understood this---i mean, who's read david copperfield in the 21st century? a lot of people, yeah, but i dont know them, so the post is mostly for myself.

nothing actually stops me from being both copperfield and caulfield. i think this is a transition, the infinite moment of doubt, before i settle in to what i'll be for the next few decades.

10:27 PM  

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