The Ballad of Ernest Hemingway

Cats, Peace Corps / Monday, June 25th, 2012

Ernest Hemingway is a dick. No joke. Oh, I know at first he seems like he’s just a cute little guy braving the world on his own and forging new paths, but once you bring him into your home all you can think about is how to get him to leave. But really, you don’t want him to leave. You want to protect him and give him the things that he can’t have on the outside. With you, he’ll be safe from the world. He’ll never have to wonder when his next meal is coming and he’ll be able to take a nap, in the sun, without being bothered by stray dogs.

Last summer, I came across Ernest Hemingway. He was wandering about, minding his own business and I decided to scoop him up and carry him home. The bus driver let me bring him along for the ride, and I didn’t have to pay a fare for him. I worried about him drawing attention to himself with all the noise he made, but I held him close and assured him it’d be alright. The other passengers just looked and smiled. They didn’t mind him at all.

Back at home I immediately gave Ernest Hemingway a bath. He needed it. He stank and I feared the sort of bugs he’d bring with him into my our home. I dried him off the best I could but he seemed to prefer to take care of it himself while grooming himself at the same time. He settled down in a wet heap on my bed and went to sleep.

While he slept, I went out to find something for Ernest to eat. He couldn’t eat the same food that I did because he is Ernest Hemingway. He deserved food prepared just for him and that’s exactly what he got. I piled a plate high and when he awoke, he devoured the mound of food as though he hadn’t seen a square meal in weeks.

Everything seemed to be fine but then Ernest showed me how big of a dick he could be.

Ernest Hemingway isn’t meant to be cooped up in a small apartment with hardly any place to roam. Ernest Hemingway needs the great outdoors. He needs to sharpen his knives, set traps, and bring down his own meals. He needs to do these things in the open air. If not, he’ll try to sharpen his knives on your landlady’s couches and chairs. He’ll wait by the door and attack whatever walks through, be it an arm or a leg or a face. Ernest Hemingway didn’t want to be fed, he wanted to feed himself.

I’ll admit, it was partly my stupidity bringing Ernest Hemingway into my home and then leaving him alone only a week later. Some things just end up working out that way. Plus, how was I supposed to bring him to camp with me? I couldn’t keep track of him in the forest while I’m trying to teach English and keep track of a bunch of kids at the same time. So I left him at home with food and water to last him a week. I made sure he was safe and left the window open for him to get fresh air. As I stepped out the door, he just looked up at me and questioned me about my choices with his eyes. He knew it then, though I didn’t, that I’d never have him as a guest in my house again.

I returned from camp, excited to see Ernest Hemingway once more. I had tossed and turned all week, afraid I’d made the wrong choice in leaving him alone. My friends reminded me hourly. When I opened the door, I expected to see him waiting in the same spot I last saw him before I left, happy for my return. He wasn’t there.

He also wasn’t in the kitchen or the bathroom or on the bed. He wasn’t anywhere to be found. What’s more, he hadn’t touched any of the food I left for him. I quickly concluded that he had escaped, unhappy with his lodging and abandonment. I should have assured him once more that I’d be back sooner than he thought.

I don’t know how Ernest Hemingway escaped my apartment. He didn’t have a key to any of the doors and the open window was out of his reach. Somehow he did escape. I think that’s part of what makes Ernest Hemingway such a great figure–he can do things not thought possible by anyone else but because he’s Ernest Hemingway he doesn’t give a damn about what’s possible.

A few days after returning from camp to find my apartment empty, I saw Ernest Hemingway running around outside. I didn’t approach him or try to talk to him because I could tell that he seemed happier where he was, without me. I don’t know what I was thinking when I thought I could tame the wild Ernest Hemingway. He just wanted to be free.

Free as he may be, Ernest Hemingway is still a dick. When he left my apartment, he left a parting gift of a flea infestation. It took a month to get rid of the damned things. I know he did it on purpose too, because when I walk by him now I still see a smirk on his face, acknowledging what he did to me.

Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway: The cat, the dick, the legend.



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