Hemingway, S’mores & A Dearth of Tenderness
As with all good things, eventually they end, or die, or you die. Ok, there are dozens of possibilities – but for the purposes of this story, something needs to die. Not for any particular reason other than it really ratchets up the drama level.
Years ago when I was ghost writing for Hemingway, he said something that I never really understood. That happened a lot, he was drunk a good portion of his finally years and I remember thinking, hmm – I wonder if what he just said was at all important? I never forgot those incoherent messages and the way he used to sit in front of the fire and make s’mores. Which, although sounding like an idyllic existence, was actually yet another way in which he would punish himself, you see instead of simple milk or dark chocolate he would force himself to use the bittersweet chocolate usually reserved for baking. Believe me you didn’t want any piece of a Hemingway s’more. Actually that reminds me of a funny story…
…I’m not going to tell you I was just mentioning that it reminded me of a funny story.
It was a bloody struggle getting the sun also rises finished, he had this mad idea where he wanted to keep injecting clowns into it. “Ernie, it makes little sense for the clowns to enter the stadium at the same time as the bulls” I said, and he countered with his standard “oops you’ve dropped your tampon again mother” – he knew this infuriated me to no end and as usual it would end with one of us stabbing the other one and then in a fit of drunken remorse we would sing british naval shanties long into the night as our wounds healed.
Mind you our flesh repaired itself far easier than our emotional wounds and often times the scars of our delicate psyches had only just begun the very barest of repairs before a hurtful word would tear asunder the still red and angry hurt. I say to you thus, I’ve felt the sting of sticks and stones and the children’s rhyme is a lie. Words can hurt you.
Don’t forget something is going to die before the end of the story. See there, that flush you feel is adrenaline – with the mere mention of death, the story climbs yet a rung higher and your anticipation grows.
He preferred I wrote longhand, he said the clickety-clack of the underwood made angry fire ants crawl through his hung over brain. And so I did, as the words struggled and tumbled out onto the page, faster and faster, the story coming together, my hands warped and cramped with fatigue, my eyes bleary and begging for slight respite.
Finally at the end of the second day when I had completed the book, we lay in front of the fire, spent, covered in bittersweet chocolate he had left strewn about and it was then that death made visit upon us, and it was then whence my innocence died…. and we should ask not for whom the bell tolls… it tolls for thee.
Thank you for joining me upon my journey through nonsense theatre.
Have a Great Day.