The Broom of the System - By David Foster Wallace Page 0,1

the state fair the time she’d had her purse stolen, and her blond hair flooding all over the shirt, and her eyes very blue right now; Sue Shaw with her red hair and a green sweater and green tartan skirt and fat white legs with a bright red pimple just over one knee, legs crossed with one foot jiggling one of those boat shoes, with the sick white soles-Lenore dislikes that kind of shoe a lot.

Clarice after a quiet bit lets out a long sigh and says, in whispers, “Cat ... is ... God,” giggling a little at the end. The other two giggle too.

“God? How can Cat be God? Cat exists.” Mindy’s eyes are all red.

“That’s offensive and completely blaphemous,” says Sue Shaw, eyes wide and puffed and indignant.

“Blaphemous?” Clarice dies, looks at Lenore. “Blasphemous,” she says. Her eyes aren’t all that bad, really, just unusually cheerful, as if she’s got a joke she’s not telling.

“Blissphemous,” says Mindy.







“Barney Rubble.”

“Baba Yaga. ”



They’re dying, doubled over, and Lenore’s laughing that weird sympathetic laugh you laugh when everybody else is laughing so hard they make you laugh too. The noise of the big party downstairs is coming through the floor and vibrating in Lenore’s black sneakers and the arms of the chair. Now Mindy slides out of her desk chair all limp and shlomps down on Lenore’s sleeping bag on the floor next to Clarice’s pretend-Persian ruglet from Mooradian’s in Cleveland, and Mindy modestly covers her crotch with a comer of her robe, but Lenore still can’t help but see the way her breasts swell up into the worn pink towel cloth of the robe, all full and stuff, even lying down on her back, there, on the floor. Lenore uncon siously looks down a little at her own chest, under her flannel shirt.

“Hunger,” Sue Shaw says after a minute. “Massive, immense, uncontrollable, consuming, uncontrollable, hunger.”

“This is so,” says Mindy.

“We will wait”—Clarice looks at her watch on the underside of her wrist—“one, that is one hour, before eating anything what soentirelyever.”

“No we can’t possibly possibly do that.”

“But do it we shall. As per room discussions of not one week ago, when we explicitly agreed that we shall not gorge when utterly flapped, lest we get fat and repulsive, like Mindy, over there, you poor midge.”

“Fart-blossom,” Mindy says absently, she’s not fat and she knows it, Lenore knows it, they all know it.

“A lady at all times, that Metalman,” Clarice says. Then, after a minute, “Speaking of which, you might just maybe either fix your robe or get dressed or get up off your back in Lenore’s stuff, I’m not really all up for giving you a gynecological exam, which is sort of what you’re making us do, here, O Lesbia of Thebes.”

“Stuff and bother,” says Mindy, or rather, “Stuth and bozzer”; and she gets up swaying and reaching for solid things, goes over to the door that goes into her little single bedroom off the bathroom. She got there first in September and took it, Clarice had said in a letter, this Playboy-Playmatish JAP from Scarsdale, and she’s shedding what’s left of her bathrobe, battered into submission, leaving it all wet in Lenore’s lap in the chair by the door, and going through the door with her long legs, deliberate steps. Shuts the door.

Clarice looks after her when she’s gone and shakes her head a tiny bit and looks over at Lenore and smiles. There are sounds of laughter downstairs, and cattle-herd sounds of lots of people dancing. Lenore just loves to dance.

Sue Shaw takes a big noisy drink of water out of a big plastic Jetsons glass on her desk up by the front door. “Speaking of which, you didn’t by any chance happen to see Splittstoesser this morning?” she says.

“Nuh-uh,” says Clarice.

“She was with Proctor.”


“At seven o‘clock? Both in nighties, all sleepy and googly, coming out of her room, together? Holding hands?”


“Now if anybody ever told me that Spiittstoesser ...”

“I thought she was engaged to some guy.”

“She is.”

They both laugh like hell.


“Who’s Splittstoesser?” Lenore asks.

“Nancy Splittstoesser, at dinner? The girl in the red V-neck, with the earrings that were really little fists?”

“Oh. But what about her?”

Clarice and Sue look at each other and start to laugh again. Mindy Metalman comes back in, in gym shorts and an inside-out sweatshirt with the arms cut off. Lenore looks at her and smiles at the floor.

“What?” Mindy knows something’s up right away.

“Splittstoesser and Proctor,” Sue gets out.

“I meant to ask you.” Mindy’s eyes