A Letter from Holden Caulfield to Sally Hayes

March 15, 2021

December 24, 1951

Dear Sally,  

I hope you’re doing alright.  I know I said I’d come over and help you trim the tree today, but I sort of wasn’t in the mood to come over after our little tiff the other day at the skating rink. I thought it might make things awkward, especially with your parents not liking me very much and all. You know, they might have a point. I know I can come off as unscrupulous, even crass at times. I have to admit it. I’m no gentleman, but what you have to understand is that I’m no phony, either. I say what I mean and I mean what I say. 

That’s why I was so ticked off when you didn’t agree to my plan to drive up to Massachusetts or Vermont. I would have been fine with either, really. Or both. But you had to get all pragmatic on me and call me a lunatic. And I might not have even said anything if you hadn’t been wearing that darn skating skirt. You really had to goad me on, didn’t you? You always have been too good-looking for me, Sally. I can hardly stand it. You’re pretty, gorgeous even, but you might be the most irritating girl I’ve ever met. You use phony words like “grand” and “marvelous”, you chat up these fake blasé guys at the show, and the conversations you have aren’t even real. I tried to have a real conversation with you, but I’m sure you would have rather rambled on about that inane show with the Lunts in it than listen to me. 

Which is why I’m writing you now. You could have tossed this letter already, and I honestly wouldn’t blame you if you did. But I really hope you stuck around, because I wanted to sincerely apologize for calling you a royal pain in the a**. (In case your mother finds this before you do). I didn’t mean it. I don’t know why I said it or why I laughed while you were crying. But I was in sort of  bad shape then. I’d probably drunk too much or smoked too much, and my brain wasn’t clear, but it is now that I’m writing this. I knew from the moment you walked up to the show that I wanted to marry you. You’re a swell girl, Sally, I really mean it. We don’t even have to go to Massachusetts or Vermont. I’ll talk to your parents, maybe try and convince them that I’m not so bad. You can help me, to tell them I mean, and then we can get married and live someplace nice, maybe close to the Natural History Museum or something, and I can take you there on Saturdays and we can go to the park and skate or something. It would be a swell life, I just know it. Just write me back as soon as you get this.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that the address on this envelope isn’t my home address. I’m staying with a few of my friends for Christmas this year. I only met them yesterday, but they’re nice people. They’re almost calming, in a way, and they understand that I hate phonies, even though some of them still talk to me like I’m a clueless kid, just because I don’t have a psychological degree or something. They’re not so bad, though. I almost feel sorry for them, on account of the fact that they’ve invited a lot of people over for Christmas. I don’t know how they did it, but they had a ton of beds set up already when I got here, and a lot of people were already settled in. Nice place. 

Anyway, write me back when you get this. Merry Christmas, Sally. 

Faithfully Yours, Holden Caulfield


P.S. Do you have any tips for scaling down a building? I don’t want to break my neck.

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