I took up a conversation with a gorgeous country girl wearing a low-cut cotton blouse that displayed the beautiful sun-tan on her breast tops.
She was dull.
She spoke of evenings in the country making popcorn on the porch. Once this would have gladdened my heart but because her heart was not glad when she said it I knew there was nothing in it but the idea of what one should do.
“And what else do you do for fun?” I tried to bring up boy friends and sex. Her great dark eyes surveyed me with emptiness and a kind of chagrin that reached back generations and generations in her blood from not having done what was crying to be done — whatever it was, and everybody knows what it was.
“What do you want out of life?”
I wanted to take her and wring it out of her.
She didn’t have the slightest idea what she wanted.
She mumbled of jobs, movies, going to her grandmother’s for the summer, wishing she could go to New York and visit the Roxy, what kind of outfit she would wear — something like the one she wore last Easter, white bonnet, roses, rose pumps, and lavender gabardine coat.
“What do you do on Sunday afternoons?” I asked.
She sat on her porch. The boys went by on bicycles and stopped to chat. She read the funny papers, she reclined on the hammock.
“What do you do on a warm summer’s night?”
She sat on the porch, she watched the cars in the road. She and her mother made popcorn.
“What does your father do on a summer’s night?”
He works, he has an all-night shift at the boiler factory, he’s spent his whole life supporting a woman and her outpoppings and no credit or adoration.
“What does your brother do on a summer’s night?”
He rides around on his bicycle, he hangs out in front of the soda fountain.
“What is he aching to do? What are we all aching to do? What do we want?”
She didn’t know. She yawned. She was sleepy. It was too much. Nobody could tell. Nobody would ever tell.
It was all over.
–On the Road by Jack Kerouac