Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Nurse the Hate: Hemingway Weekend

Summer is drawing to a close.  I find it odd that a season that took a hundred centuries when you are age ten now takes roughly 26 minutes as an adult.  I can recall with perfect clarity waking up as a child on any random morning in July, filled with expectation and unlimited promise.  Absolutely anything could happen and there was no end in sight to the adventure.  August and the creeping fear of returning to school would never arrive.  Now I wake up and do a quick inventory in my head trying to figure out what day it is to discover it is always later than I think.  I should probably take today off and do something constructive like build a fort, but I am concerned that if an authority figure of some type discovered a middle aged man building a fort by himself in the woods even more authorities would be called.  What I would be building as a simple indulgence would most likely be considered a Unabomber Lair.  I think my fort would be difficult to defend on a Tuesday afternoon.

Obviously something needs to be done.  I feel as if I need to commit to some sort of adventure.  A manly adventure.  Maybe it was the steel cut oatmeal I had this morning.  Perhaps it was the green drink smoothie.  Regardless, it was plain to even a casual observer that I really need to toughen up and embrace something a bit more rugged than a Skinny Vanilla Latte at Starbucks.  It is time to launch a hastily thought out Hemingway Weekend.

My game plan is sort of fluid at this point.  This is due mainly to the fact that I have done absolutely no pre-planning.  However, pulling the trigger compulsively on travel is generally a good idea, especially on a Hemingway Weekend.  The destination has to be Key West.  I have never been there, but I am reasonably sure that Hemingway’s house is still standing (and probably outfitted with a cringe worthy gift shop).   I will obviously have to drink some rum and stumble around in there.  That should be easy enough.  While I hope to have some sort of Moveable Feast, I recognize the possible pitfalls of falling into a horrible Jimmy Buffet tourist trap doomsday spiral.  I will need to be vigilant to stay on point on this thing.  Yet, a visit to this mecca will be paramount.

I have considered the idea of big game fishing.  On the one hand, I have a vision of myself sunburned in a trusty fishing cap yanking on an enormous marlin, my sinewy forearms straining with the effort, huge tackle attached to a bent rod.  My faithful Cuban guide Manuel will pour water on the screaming reel as the powerful fish goes on a run, my shoulders aching as I mutter “He’s a strong god damn fish” or something to that effect.  Hours later as I finally pull the beast to the side of the boat I will look down into his eye, clip the wire lead, and let him go back to his place in the sea.  “Senor Greg!  You released him?”  Yes Manuel.  He was a strong fish.  A noble fish.  He fought with courage.  More courage than any man I have known since the troubles in Catalonia.  Let us drink rum to his spirit.  (Then the boat begins a long graceful cruise back to port with the sun setting dramatically in the background.  Our laughter rises occasionally over the sturdy chug of the engines.)

My fear of course is that I will be on some group charter with some guys from Wisconsin named “Brad” or “Devin”.  They will be yelling across the boat with each sentence beginning with “Bro!”.  Meanwhile I will have gotten horribly seasick and will spend the majority of the charter either barfing over the side or in the cabin below in the fetal position.  As I lie in the fetal position I will hear Brad and Devin laugh it up saying things like “Bro!  Did you see that dude hurl over the side?  He was like Blahhhhhh!!! HAHAHAHAHA!’.  Later towards the end of the trip, the dismissive captain will fetch me from below, hand me a rod after they have hooked a small grouper and I will be told to reel it in like I was a child.  I will meekly pose for photos by the fish on the dock.  This photo will later be sold to me for $40, my day with Brad and Devin immortalized forever with the web address of the charter business prominently across the frame.  This is a real possibility.  I will really need to look into the particulars of big game fishing.  I will have to really open my checkbook on this one.

I feel pretty confident that I can dive some gnarly shipwreck.  There’s some huge Navy ship that was sunk off the coast that offers up plenty of bad ideas for a relative novice diver like myself.  I can see myself sitting on a dive boat running my mouth with shit talk and then getting tangled up deep inside a shipwreck.  I really need to buy some sort of knife.  Not only will it look pretty cool as I strut around the dock with it strapped to my leg, but it will probably be good when I get all tangled up in some wires I didn’t notice in a hallway of a shipwreck.  I really wouldn’t want that picture of me from the doomed fishing charter to be used as my obituary photo.  Diving a shipwreck with a dive knife?  Hopefully I will see a shark I can later claim to have held off with that knife.  Very manly.  I better get that slotted in.  

My concern with Key West is that instead of wise fishermen quietly handling tasks on their weather beaten boats, it is mainly tourists holding chain store coffee cups looking at paintings of seagulls while Jimmy Buffet and Buster Poindexter’s “Hot Hot Hot” blast out of shitty nightclubs.  Florida contains all the silt from the United States that has washed down to the bottom as naturally as sewage.  I don’t want to come into contact with any overweight bleached blondes drinking daiquiris from a yard long plastic cup with wacky souvenir straw.  No, I want to spar on the dock with deckhands with a small circle of fellow pugilists.  We will split each other’s lips and then retire to a small hole-in-the-wall where we have shots and beers with our arms around each other.  When the sun goes down I will have a last drink, pay the bartendress after turning down her offer to return to her funky cottage, and return to my seaside room to write.  My almost empty bottle of scotch next to the typewriter acts as a paperweight on the 40+ pages of searing brilliance I have hammered out.  I shuffle outside into the sunrise to leap into the sea, refreshed, and ready to slowly let the day ease in.


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