shine them for the fat lady

Salinger (b. 1-1-19) is a writer that has endured as a favorite of mine. I have read Catcher in the Rye every year for 20 years. There is something relatable about his Holden. Also his Franny, Zooey; they find a neurotic exasperation with the inadequacies of all those around them (and with the problems of the world in general). As I have aged I relate less to Holden (though he still is entertaining), rather the sentiment in Zooey's comments to Franny about his sister's inability to accept the frailties of others rings true:
"I mean you don't just despise what they represent -- you despise them. It's too damn personal, Franny, I mean it.  You get a real homicidal glint in your eye when you talk about this Tupper {her professor}, for instance. All this business about his going into the men's room to muss his hair before he comes into class.  All that he does--it goes with everything else you've told me about him. I'm not saying it doesn't. But it's none of your business, buddy, what he does with his hair. It would be all right, in a way, if you thought his personal affectations were sort of funny. Or if you felt a tiny bit sorry for him for being insecure enough to give himself a little pathetic goddam glamour, but when you tell me about it --and I'm not fooling, now--you tell me about it as though his hair was a goddam personal enemy of yours. That is not right--and you know it. If you're going to go to war against the System, just do your shooting like a nice, intelligent girl -- because the enemy's there, and not because you don't like his hairdo or his goddam necktie."

Zooey then recounts some advice their older brother, Seymour, had told him when he was about to go on a radio program and did not want to shine his shoes, "I was furious. The studio audience were all morons, the announcer was a moron, the sponsors were morons, and I just damn well wasn't going to shine my shoes for them, I told Seymour. I said they couldn't see them anyway, where we sat. He said to shine them anyway. He said to shine them for the Fat Lady. I didn't know what he was talking about but he had a very Seymour look on his face, and I did it. He never did tell me who the Fat Lady was, but I shined my shoes for the Fat Lady every time I ever went on the air again...I'll tell you a terrible secret -- are you listening to me? There isn't anyone out there who isn't Seymour's Fat Lady. That includes your Professor Tupper, buddy. And all his goddam cousins by the dozens. There isn't anyone anywhere that isn't Seymour's Fat Lady. Don't you know that? Don't you know the goddam secret yet? And don't you know --listen to me, now--don't you know what that Fat Lady really is? ...Ah, buddy. Ah, buddy. It's Christ Himself. Christ Himself, buddy."

We are not catchers in the rye; not even for our children. Why am I writing this down? This has become a venue I don't enjoy at the moment, but looking back over the years I enjoy seeing little things I wrote down about my kids that my mind has lost touch with. For the past 19 years most of the choices I have made regarding my own life has been to benefit Charly (then the boys as they came along). My identity and being have been defined by the love I feel for her (then the boys). This past year with Charly has been a time for me to learn to shoot like a nice, intelligent girl. This guy she is with, the choices she has made, her current MO leaves me with a homicidal feeling. It is personal only because of how much I adore and am woven with Charly, however, it really is not personal. I can feel some worry for her and her goddam glamour. I can feel some sorrow for some opportunities she has lost and the opportunities she has embraced. Her moron boyfriend is not my personal enemy. What to do then? Polish life for the audience, that ubiquitous Fat Lady (Christ, God, whatever power is out there that keeps this existence going).
New Year's Eve 2016 Charly performing for an actual audience


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