Chapter 12 and 13
In the cab to the piano bar, Holden asks this second cabbie about the ducks in the Central Park lagoon as well. The cabbie points out that the fish probably have it even worse, because they can't go anywhere. Holden eventually lets the topic drop because the cabbie is becoming quite irritable about the subject. Holden also invites this cabbie to have a drink with him as well, and he also declines.
At the piano bar, Holden takes an immediate dislike to the music, pronouncing it phony and hating the false humility of the showman, Ernie. Holden doesn't like the crowd, either. The table to his left is occupied by an awkward, unattractive couple, prompting Holden to pity unattractive girls: "Real ugly girls have it tough. I feel so sorry for them sometimes." The table to the right he finds even worse, at which a "Joe Yale-looking guy" is telling a beautiful girl about his roommate's suicide attempt to play off her feelings of sympathy, while at the same time feeling her up under the table.
A former girlfriend of D.B.'s spots Holden, and chats with him and invites him to join her and her date at their table. Holden declines, claiming he is just leaving to meet a friend. After giving this excuse, he feels compelled to leave, even though he was having a good time: "People are always ruining things for you."
Holden walks the forty-one blocks back to his hotel. His hands are cold, and he wishes he knew who at Pencey had stolen his gloves. He knows he wouldn't have done anything about, though, even if he had known - he considers himself "yellow." Riding the hotel elevator up to his room, the elevator operator offers to set up Holden with a prostitute for five dollars, and Holden accepts.
Back in his room, Holden prepares for the prostitute's arrival by brushing his teeth and changing into a clean shirt. Holden admits to us that he's feeling nervous, and that he's a virgin. Not for lack of opportunities, we are assured, but because he stops when a girl tells him to stop: "You never know whether they really want you to stop, or whether they're just as scared as hell, or whether they're just telling you to stop so that if you do go through with it, the blame'll be on you, not them."
The prostitute arrives, and Holden thinks he is being "suave as hell" until she abruptly takes off her dress. This makes him quite nervous, and he tries to get her to talk. He asks her where she's from, and she says Hollywood. He then hangs her dress up on a hanger, which makes him feel "sort of sad": "I thought of her going into a store and buying it, and nobody in the store knowing she was a prostitute and all.... It made me feel sad as hell - I don't know why exactly." The girl (she is a girl, only Holden's age) tries to get him into bed, but Holden no longer wants to, saying he just had a very serious operation and offers to give her the five dollars anyway. She says it costs ten, but takes the five, gets dressed, and leaves.
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Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Chapter 4 and 5
Chapter 6 and 7
Chapter 8 and 9
Chapter 10 and 11
Chapter 12 and 13
Chapter 14 and 15
Chapter 17 and 18
Chapter 19 and 20
Chapter 21 and 22
Chapter 23 and 24