"I'm the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life." Holden opens Chapter Three with this declaration. He gives a short discourse on lying, and then we learn that Holden lives in a dormitory donated by an alumnus named Ossenburger, who made all his money with cheap funeral parlors.
Holden doesn't like the guy (Ossenburger came to Pencey to give a big, "corny speech" about praying to Jesus). In fact, the only good part of the speech was when someone in the audience let one rip. (Or "passed gas," as they say.)
Holden ends up back in his dorm and puts on a red hunting cap – he's partial to the thing and wears it with the peak swung around to the back.
Holden chills out and reads Out of Africa, which he got by mistake from the library.
This brings is to a discourse on books. Holden's brother D.B. is his favorite author (or Ring Lardner, who writes sports-related stories), but mostly Holden just likes books where you can laugh once in a while, books that, after you read them, you wish the author was a friend of yours that you could just call up and talk to. Having read The Return of the Native, he wouldn't mind calling old Thomas Hardy up.
Anyway, a few pages into Out of Africa, this guy Robert Ackley "barges" in. He's a tall guy with dirty teeth and pimples.
Ackley looks around to make sure Holden's roommate, named Stradlater, isn't there. The two don't get along.
Ackley wants to talk and hang out. Holden clearly does not. So Ackley does the next best thing, which is to walk around Holden's room, pick up all his stuff, examine it, and put it back in the wrong place.
One such item is Holden's picture of a girl he "used to go around with" named Sally Hayes. (Relationships were complicated back then; "go around with" was somewhere in between "hanging out" and "together.")
Holden, after reading the same sentence twenty times, gives up and puts his book down. He starts "horsing around," which he admits he does "quite a bit." In this particular case, "horsing around" means pulling a hunting cap over your eyes and pretending to be blind.
Ackley asks about Holden's red hat, informing him that it's a deer-hunting hat.
Holden responds that it's a people-shooting hat.
Ackley proceeds to cut his toenails and leave the clippings all over the floor. Ew.
The boys go back to talking about Stradlater, who is out on a date. Ackley is really not a fan of this guy, but it seems the reason is because Stradlater told him he should really brush his teeth once in a while.
Holden admits that Stradlater is conceited, but defends him. He says if Stradlater was wearing a tie you really liked, he'd just take it off and give it to you.
Speak of the devil, here comes Stradlater – he wants to borrow Holden's hound's-tooth jacket.
Ackley takes off and Holden gives up his jacket, asking Stradlater not to stretch it out with his "godamn shoulders," which are very broad.
Stradlater takes off his shirt and tie so he can have a shave and show off his fantastic body. Meanwhile, his date is waiting in the annex.