check out our:
"Boy!" I said. I also say "Boy!" quite a lot. Partly because I have a lousy vocabulary and partly because I act quite young for my age sometimes. I was sixteen then, and I'm seventeen now, and sometimes I act like I'm about thirteen. It's really ironical, because I'm six foot two and a half and I have gray hair. I really do. The one side of my head – the right side – is full of millions of gray hairs. I've had them ever since I was a kid. And yet I still act sometimes like I was only about twelve. Everybody says that, especially my father. It's partly true, too, but it isn't all true. People always think something's all true. I don't give a damn, except that I get bored sometimes when people tell me to act my age. Sometimes I act a lot older than I am – I really do – but people never notice it. People never notice anything. (2.22)
This sets up an interesting question that sticks with us for most of The Catcher in the Rye: is Holden immature, or a precocious and wise kid? The mention of his grey hairs is important, since we're also constantly evaluating Holden in light of his physical appearance, which has a big effect on a person's self-identity.
I ordered a Scotch and soda, and told him not to mix it – I said it fast as hell, because if you hem and haw, they think you're under twenty-one and won't sell you any intoxicating liquor. I had trouble with him anyway, though. "I'm sorry, sir," he said, "but do you have some verification of your age? Your driver's license, perhaps?" I gave him this very cold stare, like he'd insulted the hell out of me, and asked him, "Do I look like I'm under twenty-one?"
"I'm sorry, sir, but we have our –"
"Okay, okay," I say. I figured the hell with it. "Bring me a Coke." He started to go away, but I called him back. "Can'tcha stick a little rum in it or something?" I asked him. I asked him very nicely and all. "I can't sit in a corny place like this cold sober. Can'tcha stick a little rum in it or something?"
"I'm very sorry, sir…" he said, and beat it on me. I didn't hold it against him, though. They lose their jobs if they get caught selling to a minor. I'm a goddam minor. (10.6-10)
Holden obviously has mixed feelings about his age. There are times when he obviously reveres youth, but other times, like this one, where his age becomes a limitation.
It's immaterial to me," she said. "Hey – how old are you, anyhow?"
That annoyed me, for some reason. "Oh, Christ. Don't spoil it," I said. "I'm twelve, for Chrissake. I'm big for my age." 10.39-40
The "some reason" for which Holden is annoyed is that people older than him do not take him seriously. This is yet another limitation placed on him because of his age.