Although many of my ultra-feminist friends will argue me on this, I love Ernest Hemingway. A major source of this contention on their part mostly stems from his short story “Hills Like White Elephants,” and the fact that he was pretty much a womanizer and, according to many of them, a misogynist. Whether or not you agree with his lifestyle, one has to admit that when it came to writing, the man had a gift.
I also love Charles Bukowski and F. Scott Fitzgerald — again, men who spent a decent amount of time drinking (and writing), but also being douchebags who didn’t hold women in the highest regard. However, I try not to see them as that. I try to see them as amazing writers who, despite their personal indiscretions, were actually quite human and flawed and made no apologies for it.
So when my birthday rolled around, I decided I’d venture off to Key West, to one of the places where Hemingway lived and check it out.
I do not care for Florida; never have and never will. It’s humid, touristy and a far-cry from New York City. But I had to go to fulfill some sort of literature-based pilgrimage. If you take a gander at my tattoos, you’ll see that I’m a walking ode to Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Nabokov, so it seemed wrong to not go when I found a great deal thanks to the hurricane season.
Yes, my understanding of Hemingway’s alcoholism and craziness was confirmed, but I also learned a lot — including the fact that the great folks of Key West can drink any New Yorker under the table. I’ve never seen a group of people who can drink quite like the locals of Key West. I don’t know if their livers are made of steel or if it’s simply practice. They told me it was practice, but I’m still convinced there’s some sort of steel factor going on with their innards.
Would I suggest to a friend they should go to Key West? Probably. But I’d also tell them to prepare for a proper drying out period when they return to wherever they live. Like I said, these people are badass in the drinking and lounging category. And for that, I’d like to give each and every one of them a medal.