Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Moveable Feast

First off, let's be clear that Ernest Hemingway was a shit of a man.  Quite a writer, but a shit.

The Bing Crosby of writers.
Some would say.

As has been noted earlier, I gave a painting lesson to Daughter #2's 4th grade class last Friday.  The kids' ages seemed to range from 8-10, and that's really an excellent time to be alive.  These kids, I'm telling you, were really cute.  Old enough to be almost human but still young enough to just make you want to smile at them for no reason whatsoever.  Of course, I don't have to deal with them on a daily basis.

I was happy to pitch in and help my daughter.  And, having seen her in action in the classroom, I will take the opportunity to say that I'm so proud of her I can barely stand it.  Apparently, my X-Wife (who, for security reasons, will be called Mona Mulholland for the duration of the post) felt the same way.  A few weeks ago, Mona helped as a chaperone for some kind of a field trip.  Good for her.  And during that time the fact that Mona and I are divorced came up.  Don't know how, but kids ask the craziest questions.

Anyway, at the end of my paint class, one little girl came up to me.

"Mr. Raymond?" she asked.
"Yes," I said, beaming at her.
"I just want you to know I hope the divorce is going okay."

This was deeply amusing to me.  I thanked her for her concern and told her it was, she handed me a drawing she'd done during the class, and we went our separate ways.  I guess my divorce is going okay.  It's been fifteen years or so and I'm still alive.

As has also been noted earlier, I'm up to my ass in Paris in the 20s.  It started out as research for Saigon: Too Big To Fail but ended up being its own thing.  So I've read all about Scott and Zelda, Ernest and Hadley, etc.  I've read a couple of Hemingway books and short stories, most recently A Moveable Feast.  I'm currently in the middle of A Farewell To Arms.  Next on my list is Calvin Tompkins' book about Gerald and Sara Murphy, recommended to me by my buddy Eric, titled Living Well is the Best Revenge.  The Murphys were also part of the Paris ex-pat community at the time.  All with the understanding that these books will be put down immediately upon the arrival from the library of The Goldfinch.  Which I'm exhausted just thinking about.

In the fifth paragraph from the end of A Moveable Feast, Hemingway describes a reunion with his wife Hadley.  They had been apart while he had been in New York on book business.  Once he was back in Europe he spent some time in Paris, unbeknownst to Hadley, banging Pauline Pfeiffer, the woman who would become his next wife.  Then he got on the train to Austria.  The paragraph reads ...

"When I saw my wife again standing by the tracks as the train came in by the piled logs at the station, I wished I had died before I ever loved anyone but her.  She was smiling, the sun on her lovely face tanned by the snow and sun, beautifully built, her hair red gold in the sun, grown out all winter awkwardly and beautifully, and Mr. Bumby standing with her, blond and chunky and with winter cheeks looking like a good Vorarlberg boy."

And all I could think of was Bing Crosby singing White Christmas.


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