Why Does a Single Gal Still Think She's a J.D. Salinger Character?
08/20/2010 - 04:54

Does it say something about me that I love Franny Glass as much today as I did when I first dipped into her existential suffering back when I was a mere high school girl?

I mean, it is somehow immature, or revealing of a certain arrested development on my part, to still identify so strongly with Franny’s struggles, with her absolute breakdown in her quest for grace?

For Truth in its highest order?

The residue of which is to find everything and everyone shallow and meaningless and full of ego. Which is another way of saying, "I'm just so sick of pedants and conceited little tearer-downers I could scream."

I mean, poor Lane! He was just trying to be her date and impress her. He knew she was shutting him out and he was trying desperately to stay afloat.

Is that such a crime?

Which is another way of saying, sometimes I wish that I, too, could cry my eyes out at an apartment on the Upper East Side, full of dusty old memories, and to pull the fleas out of poor Bloomberg the cat while Bessie, my mom, in her housecoat full of tools and a pack of cigarettes, doesn’t let brother Zooey alone as he tries to take a bath, for godssakes, and read a letter written to him by his very wise and reclusive brother.

Only I am old enough now to if not be Franny’s mother than at least to be her doddering aunt. Although today Franny herself would be in her 70's. Which would mean she could be my mom.

Which is all another way of saying, I also find everything so sad-making. Everything makes me cry! And in my quest for love I realized as I returned home the other night from a certain Indian energy healing session, that I have completely given up on the world we see before us and have instead gone in search of the world of the spiritual.

Not Jewish, of course! Heaven forbid I turn to my own heritage for solace! No, instead I’m seeking after the Chinese herbalists, the acupuncturists piercing my tender neck (ouch!) and the aforenmentioned energy healers, so that together we can chant and om and seek grace. And in the end they can lay their hands on my head and pray, just like Jewish parents pray over their precious children every Shabbat.

But what am I really seeking? Is this quest for a mate solely a quest for a mate or for something much bigger? That same thing that poor Franny sought when she muttered to herself incessantly the words of the prayer by a certain former Jew whose name I cannot utter here?

Because me thinks that even when I meet my beshert  – and I know that I will, even if by then I don’t have all my teeth –  I will still feel this empty space within that is searching for more.

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Thanks for the lovely post and for your advice, which is wise and helpful. And I especially liked your sentence about the "very Salingerian arrangement" that ends with a bouquet of flowers. I am a big lover of flowers. :-)
Dear Abigail (Franny), First, let me praise your wonderful reading of Franny and Zooey. I think that your creative writing is evidence that you understand Salinger's work deeply and I truly respect the way you understand Salinger's thinking about love. However, I should also warn you that the real world rarely respects the way Salinger readers encounter his characters when that is EXACTLY who they are. There are absurd extremes to this thinking (John Lennon's murderer) but there are also some beautiful benefits. I think that Salinger's understanding of love and god are pretty much what I've found to be true in my own path. Although it's crazy for me to step in here as Zooey, he does step in as Seymour, so maybe this "step in"to you is at least set by precedent. Only I am not going to tell you the fat lady is Jesus. Instead, I'm going to imagine Boo Boo talking to Franny and not offering koan so much as social wisdom. (Are you ready for a stranger to hand you a very Salingerian arrangement of his words as though we are Glass siblings and able to accept such missives as a bouquet of flowers?) ((((()))))? You won't find love until you stop searching for it. Love yourself, love words, and love everything you don't know instead of loving the pathos of searching for a mate. Improve what you know and love about yourself so the person who you find and who finds you will find the best you there is. I probably don't have to tell you this, and I think it's incredibly rude of me to pop in here as though I belong...so I'll leave now. Finally, it would also be rude to say goodbye without thanking you for your short basket of fine words identifying with Franny...and so I bid you adieu with a questionable and sincere kiss to the very top of your head... ~*~
"That same thing that poor Franny sought when she muttered to herself incessantly the words of the prayer by a certain former Jew whose name I cannot utter here?" Is that a question or a statement?