Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Visit With the Old Man

On Christmas Eve I read The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway. It had been years since my last reading (in college), but this very short novel lends itself well to a single sitting and to various interpretations.  Me . . . I just like the old man.  He's macho.  A tough SOB. 

Becky, of course, knows I'm a wimp.  I cry during chick flicks.  I weep when my wife spurns my advances.  My daughter will not allow me to officiate at her wedding because she says I will sob uncontrollably like a child.

That's why I like to write about tough characters.  I've got a new science fiction story, for example, about some macho men who tap radiation leaks at nuclear power plants.  I have written many mystery stories about tough cops and even tougher private eyes.  And whenever I write memoirs of my life, I paint myself into a good light by fabricating tales of sewing up my own gaping wounds with catgut or performing abdominal surgeries on myself without the aid of an anesthesia.

In reality, about the toughest thing I do each day is work out at the gym and grit my teeth through my arthritic shoulder pain.  I've been conditioned, through marriage and parenting, to ignore little aches and pains and to shy away from rejection . . . which happens often.  I write in the dark so my wife won't make comments about how old I'm looking these days and so she won't be able to get a decent glimpse of me in my new Christmas underwear.

Come to think of it, The Old Man and the Sea might be a parable about my life.  I always think I've landed something big, but by the time I get home to tell my wife, my good news is usually chewed to pieces. 

So much for Hemingway. 

No comments: