Editor's Note: The following is an excerpt from author Marty Beckerman's new guide to life and masculinity based on the works of Ernest Hemingway, "The Heming Way: How to Unleash the Booze-Inhaling, Animal-Slaughtering, War-Glorifying, Hairy-Chested, Retro-Sexual Legend Within... Just Like Papa!" You can buy the book at Amazon.
It’s a myth that Hemingway hated women; he loved women enough to marry four of them, one for each harbinger of the apocalypse....
But he certainly hated bullshit. And women exhale bullshit like men exhale carbon dioxide.
From his overbearing mother (who forced him to wear pink gowns and flowered lace bonnets that matched his sister's) to the WWI nurse who broke his heart—she cured the yellowing of jaundice but caused the bluing of balls—to the unsatisfactory spouses who drove him to other unsatisfactory spouses, the females in Papa’s life each taught him a new lesson in disappointment.
He learned that women aren't made of sugar, spice, and everything nice; more like subterfuge, spite, and everything nightmarish. Your choice isn’t between psycho women and sane women (the latter don’t exist) but instead: how much psycho can you handle? A conversation with a woman is like “moves of a chess game” (A Farewell to Arms) in which you must be “careful not to stare and not to look away.” (For Whom the Bell Tolls) If she’s angry, you can’t tell her to calm down or else she will scream louder; if she’s depressed, you can’t tell her to cheer up or else she will cry harder. If she’s anything besides angry or depressed, you’re not speaking with a woman. (In which case: congratulations.)
“To hell with women, anyway.” —THE SUN ALSO RISES
And if you suggest a solution to whatever inconsequentiality has vexed her now—because you’re capable of logic—she’ll just go crazier, and then neglect to thank you when your brilliant fix works. Because she doesn’t want you to solve her problems; she wants you to validate her invalid emotions. She doesn’t want to hear your voice of reason; she wants to hear her voice complaining, and wants to make it the soundtrack of your life.
Hemingway wouldn’t tolerate such mercurial, soul-deadening hysteria. Divorce was like visiting the dentist for him, because he would schedule it every six months. He could perform in bed until the moment when his mistress became his wife, and then “I could no more make love than Jake Barnes,” he confessed to his friend and biographer A.E. Hotchner. Variety is the spice of life; monogamy is the kiss of death.
“Take off your pants, baby. We’re all friends here.” —A FAREWELL TO ARMS
Without a ball and chain, Hemingway could “do what I want and say what I want.” with marital dead weight, he could no longer go on fishing trips,his hair unkempt,let his drunken friends vomit in his bathroom.was scolded for missing the birth of his son,the fact that he obviously had better things to do with his precious time. Worst of all, his fourth wife nagged: “Papa, you must really stop chasing lions in the middle of the night.”(Why not demand that he must really stop breathing too?)
But like Christ upon the cross, accepting sadistic punishment with love for his tormenters, Hemingway was a perfect husband to his wives. Aside from cheating on them in quick succession. And, uh, slapping one. And forcing one to ride “on a cargo ship laden with dynamite” (in the words of biographer Kenneth Lynn) while he took a comfortable jet to the same destination, chivalrously demanding the lone available seat.
Which raises a question: if women “never got a man anywhere,” did Hemingway bother marrying them?
Wait... that’s a woman?