Yellow teeth

I remember Franny, at about four, sitting on [Seymour’s] lap, facing him, and saying, with immense admiration, ‘Seymour, your teeth are so nice and yellow!’ He literally staggered over to ask if I’d heard what she said.


I was standing at the meat counter, waiting for some rib lamb chops to be cut. A young mother and her little girl were waiting around, too. The little girl was about four, and, to pass the time, she leaned her back against the glass showcase and stared up at my unshaven face. I told her she was about the prettiest little girl I’d seen all day. Which made sense to her; she nodded. I said I’d bet she had a lot of boyfriends. I got the same nod again. I asked her how many boyfriends she had. She held up two fingers. ‘Two!’ I said, ‘That’s a lot of boyfriends. What are their names, sweetheart?’ Said she, in a piercing voice, ‘Bobby and Dorothy’. I grabbed my lamb chops and ran. But that’s exactly what brought on this letter. That, and a haiku-style poem I found in the hotel room where Seymour shot himself. It was written in pencil on the desk blotter: ‘The little girl on the plane / Who turned her doll’s head around / To look at me’.

— J.D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey

One response to “Yellow teeth

  1. I must read more Salinger in 2008. Happy New Year!

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