1. In modern war…you will die like a dog for no good reason.
2. Man is not made for defeat.
I regret not going into Hemingway’s house when I was in Key West. Instead I stood out on the sidewalk, by the pretty brick wall, a gazing idiot in her little sundress and flipflops. I felt shy, as if he was alive and in the house, disgusted by me ogling the arching windows and shade scattering palms. I was in shock that he had lived in the cheerful tropics. The manly man, safari man, war hero prolific in a precious city infested with twinkle lights and laughter? I had a drink in Captain Tony’s/Sloppy Joe’s (not a Teacher’s and soda or a Papa Dobles, another regret)–of course I did–searching, as any Hemingway fanatic will when visiting ‘his’ town. I brooded over my Amstel Light, irked by the happy people everywhere I looked. Why the hell didn’t I go in the house? I thought, wanting things. I vowed to return to 907 Whitehead Street, even though snooping through the homes of famous dead people I admire gives me not answers, not insight into idols and legends, but the creeps.
But then I was overcome by the white beaches and fantastic snorkeling, bewitched by the sunsets viewed from the bricks of Mallory Square. I laughed, even under water. I ate conch fritters with a huge smile on my sunburned face. I had one of the best meals of my life at Louie’s Backyard. I purchased twinkle lights and packed them reverently in my suitcase. I did not return to the Hemingway Home And Museum. I got it. Key West is magical, or as Papa himself said: “It’s the best place I’ve ever been anytime, anywhere, flowers, tamarind trees, guava trees, coconut palms…Got tight last night on absinthe and did knife tricks.”