The World According to Garp

I haven’t read this one  in a while but the film adaptation was on tonight; it’s quite good – not totally faithful, but good. John Lithgow as a transgendered football player and Robin Williams when he could still act.

I lived for a time after college in that part of Connecticut where prep school kids are the norm, estates butt up against Tory saltboxes, the local used bookstore has first edition Hawthornes and Coopers and second tier Ivy League graduates are a dime a dozen.

I hung out at The Gunnery with a friend from an Irish bar who was a soccer coach, had tea with Arthur Miller after he did a reading at The Salisbury School, got drunk with a bunch of Daniel O’Connell’s Sons civil engineers and supervisors I worked with, 3 faculty members from Hotchkiss and a couple of summer Yale Conservatory students in New Canaan. We were working for a woman who had studied with Jung in the ’20’s and had Chagall pencil drawings and Rembrandt etchings scattered around. That’s what life was like.

This was after my (then) wife – daughter of a tenured faculty member from old Midwest money -and I had graduated from a decent liberal arts college that actually taught *liberal arts*. I studied formal and symbolic logic and rhetoric in addition to political science ( I was a compsci major going in but evidently I rolled into that during the ‘structured programming is GOD’  phase which didn’t jive with my free-form computer education in high school; also, I was a sucky student). I hung out with people from most of the decent prep schools in the NE – a lot of kids who couldn’t get into the Ivy League despite every advantage and an education that rivaled G.W. Bush’s.

I spent time in the Hamptons. Went to parties in Sag Harbor. Saw REM perform at Toad’s Place in New Haven after leaving the Yale campus. Hung out in Princeton. Went to Sandy Hook to visit an acquaintance who went on to study at the Peabody Institute (and sang the Ave Maria at our wedding).

Anyway – I sorta understand the world John Irving describes. Same with J.D. Salinger, John Knowles, Louis Auchincloss, James Hilton and their ilk. If you want a pop-culture look at this world read “A Swarm of WASPS” by Patricia Falk Feeley.

My life then sucked compared to now. College was…college. We all know how that is. My life in CT was the second worst period of my life (my time living hand to mouth in a small college town working at a pizzeria, partying hard, and waiting for things to change was actually better and there was a worse period but I’ll leave that for now).

My life now, despite whatever issues we have to face (and I miss Hannah, like I’ve never missed anything in my life. I’m still angry about Petey but I miss Hannah more) is good. Very, very good. I love my wife. I love my dog. I love my cats. I like what I do for a living. We have good friends, I own a lot of guns, and I do what I want.

It’s good.


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