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She was having a helluva time tightening her skate. She didn't have any gloves on or anything and her hands were all red and cold. I gave her a hand with it. Boy, I hadn't had a skate key in my hand for years. It didn't feel funny, though. You could put a skate key in my hand fifty years from now and I'd still know what it is. She thanked me and all when I had tightened it for her. She was a very nice, polite little kid. God, I love it when a kid's nice and polite when you tighten their skate for them or something. Most kids are. They really are. I asked her if she'd care to have a hot chocolate or something with me, but she said no, thank you. She said she had to meet her friend. Kids always have to meet their friend. That kills me. (16.23)
Haha. Holden might know what a skate key is, but, uh, we had to ask our parents. (It’s a little key you’d use to tighten or loosen adjustable skates that you could put over your shoes.) In any case, this is like a kid from the ‘90s saying that she’d always recognize a pog—it’s just a part of childhood.
But there was one nice thing. This family that you could tell just came out of some church were walking right in front of me – a father, a mother, and a little kid about six years old. They looked sort of poor. […] The kid was swell. […] He was making out like he was walking a very straight line, the way kids do, and the whole time he kept singing and humming. […] It made me feel better. It made me feel not so depressed anymore. (16.3)
Sometimes, just observing is enough to give Holden a sense of connection; watching the little boy makes him "not so depressed anymore." Careful: it’s a slippery slope to a restraining order.