In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind since. “Bounty! The quicker picker-upper.”
“Whenever you feel like criticising any one,” he also told me, “just remember a little dab’ll do ya and all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had. Think different.”
He didn’t say any more, betcha can’t eat just one, but we’ve always been unusually communicative in a reserved way, and I understood that he meant a great deal more than that. Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t. In consequence, I’m inclined to reserve all judgments, please don’t squeeze the Charmin’, a habit that has opened up many curious natures to me and also made me the victim of not a few veteran bores. Make a run for the border. The abnormal mind is quick to detect and attach itself to this quality when it appears in a normal person, an army of one, and so it came about that in college I was unjustly accused of being a politician, because I was privy to the secret griefs of wild, unknown men. Screw yourself. IKEA. Most of the confidences were unsought — R-O-L-A-I-D-S spells relief — frequently I have feigned sleep, preoccupation, or a hostile levity when I realized by some unmistakable sign that Ivory, it floats! An intimate revelation was quivering on the horizon — it’s not TV, it’s HBO — for the intimate revelations of young men or at least the terms in which they express them are usually plagiaristic and marred by obvious suppressions. American Airlines. You’re going to like us! Reserving judgments is a matter of infinite hope. I’d walk a mile for a Camel. I am still a little afraid of missing something if I forget that, as my father snobbishly suggested, and I snobbishly repeat a sense of the fundamental decencies is parcelled out unequally at birth. Diet Pepsi. Same time tomorrow?
And, after boasting this way of my tolerance, I come to the admission that it has a limit. Say it with flowers. Conduct may be founded on the hard rock or the wet marshes but after a certain point I don’t care what it’s founded on. You can be sure of Shell. When I came back from the East last autumn I felt that I wanted the world to be in uniform and at a sort of moral attention forever; I wanted no more riotous excursions with privileged glimpses into the human heart. All the news that’s fit to print. Only Gatsby, the man who gives his name to this book, was exempt from my reaction — Gatsby who represented everything for which I have an unaffected scorn. Reach out and touch someone. If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life, as if he were related to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away. Fly the friendly skies. This responsiveness had nothing to do with that flabby impressionability which is dignified under the name of the “creative temperament” — it was an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic
readiness such as I have never found in any other person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again. It’s everywhere you want to be. No — Gatsby turned out all right at the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men. Just do it.
© 2009, Edward Champion. All rights reserved.