Ewing Klipspringer is F.Scott Fitzgerald’s terse statement about what happens, sometimes, to the rich, the powerful, the influential, the handsome, the beautiful and the insecure.
For those of you who do not remember The Great Gatsby or never read it, I will conduct a short review.
The bootlegger Jay Gatsby buys a new-moneyed garish home on West Egg, Long Island in the 1920’s for the express purpose of magnetizing his lost (and married) love, the shallow, hollow, self-consumed Daisy Buchanan.
Daisy lives in an old-moneyed mansion in East Egg, where the truly rich and famous roam, like delicate antelopes springing fashionably across their land. Dressed in breeches and jodhpurs, they play polo, throw parties for invited guests, and name-drop.
Gatsby stares across the sound at the symbolic green light at the end of Daisy’s dock, a color which he misinterprets for Go, instead of Rich, and sets about throwing gala after gala. Surely she will come. People do come and go to his parties, more hangers-on, freeloaders, and lookie loos who dance the nights away, awash in gin, champagne, and trilling with giggles and baubles at what the narrator Nick Carraway calls ” …a place that looks like the world’s fair.”
The ultimate hanger-on at Gatsby’s parties is Ewing Klipspringer, who actually moves into the house, unbeknownst to Gatsby. As Gatsby takes Nick on a tour of the upstairs, they enter a “…chamber where a dishevelled man in pajamas was doing liver exercises on the floor.” It was Klipspringer, the boarder. Throughout the rest of the novel, Klipspringer lives in the house, occasionally playing the piano.
When, at the end of the novel, a common hard-working gas station owner George, guns down Gatsby in a jealous rage, thinking Gatsby was Daisy’s husband Tom, who was having an affair with George’s wife Myrtle, the hangers-on must leave the premises and disappear into the crowd.
Gatsby’s funeral is poorly attended.
Ewing Klipspringer, who does not come to the funeral, calls the narrator Nick on the telephone, wondering if, perhaps, he left his tennis shoes at Gatsby’s house. He’d like them back.
It was a simple as that.