All I needed was less than a paragraph to slam the book down on the table.
“Uh oh, Doodie doesn’t like that book!” Leo closed the fridge door smiling at me.
He calls me Doodie. Shut up – it has nothing to do with poop, it’s a female Dude and it fits me to a T. Especially when he dresses it up and turns me into a Super Doodie, or a Double Doodie, or a Heavy Doodie. You get the picture, but I could go on – I just wanted you to know…
“Don’t you just hate it when people over-use the verb ‘had’ when they write?” He gave me an odd look which I took as an invitation to go on. He pulled a slab of meat out of a zip-lock and slapped it down on the cutting board.
To make a point I read the 2nd sentence from the book:
“I had never expected to be allowed to return to the country that I loved more than any other except my own and would not return so long as any of my friends were in jail. blah blah blah if I did not recant anything that I had written blah blah blah…”
Incredulously he looked at me, put the knife down “I can’t believe you want to edit Ernest Hemingway!”
“I never said I wanted to edit him, I just can’t believe how many times he uses the word ‘had’ it’s kind of annoying.” I looked at the book and picked it back up, I randomly flipped through the pages. “That had never gone away.” I shot him a glance and threw more examples “blah blah by what we had seen and felt blah blah blah we had driven that day blah blah blah Luis Miguel had fought that day blah blah and I was glad he had not seen what Antonio had done that day. Three! Three had’s in one single sentence!”
Leo finished a clean cut across the piece of meat. He put the knife down again. “This is Hemingway we’re talking about. Hemingway! One of THE most famous writers in American history.” Holding the book in my hand I waved it towards his face “I know, but… I don’t get it”
He shook his head and cut another long strip of meat. He took great care in preparing our carne asada. Skirt steak is great but it’s tougher to eat than a baseball glove if it isn’t cut right. “Marie, you read the Paris Wife and now what? You think you’re an expert on Hemingway?”
I laughed at his silly remark. “The Paris Wife has NOTHING to do with this. I’m sure Hemingway was a great writer, but I’d hate him as a husband.” This time he was the one to laugh at me “That was just a book. A romantic rendition of what may have been. Remember the difference between fiction and NON fiction? You do know that The Paris Wife is fiction right?”
Once I was done reading the book, I became obsessed with Ernest, and the kind of man he was or may have been. We talked about how in relationships one often sacrifices their dreams because the couple can’t support two great people, that and the fact that one’s destiny may be obviously set in stone whereas the other one plays more of a supportive role.
“OK, I get it. I know that. But what I don’t get is the first thing I was ever told in my writing was to reduce how many times I use the word had. Most times, it’s not even needed!”
“Marie, remember that movie we saw about Capote? How his editor told him his book was so good it was going to change how people write? THAT is the influence Hemingway has had on the American literature world”
“I think in that instance you could simply say the influence he had on literature.”
“Wait a minute, how many books of his did you read? What was it again? Oh yeah, I remember: NONE! I’ve read many of his books, trust me they are works of art.” He put the pieces of meat back in the bag and in the fridge. He rinsed out the knife, wiped it down and put it away. I knew he was getting tired of this argument because he was putting the knife away. Leo hates arguments, he was probably afraid of what may happen if the butcher knife was too close. Well, not that he’d ever do anything, but I was fascinated by the fact he put the knife down every time he answered me.
He ended the argument by simply stating “There is not a writer in America who hasn’t dreamed of being as talented and respected as Hemingway” and walked out.
I put the book back on the shelf.
Friends came over for cocktails later that night. At one point in the evening, Jewels who’d had a few told us about her dog: “And then, once he had finished his bowl he looked for more food, but I told him he had eaten enough and of course I knew he had understood when he nudged his nose on the cabinet door with the way he had looked at me with his sad puppy eyes!”
I moaned. Leo looked at me and said “Doooon’t!” as if ordering a puppy not to beg. Jewels looked at the two of us “What’s THAT all about?” Simultaneously we both smiled and answered “Don’t ask!”
This is a Studio 30+ writing prompt based on two simple words: Don’t ask. It took me foerever to come up with something. I also wanted to write a dialogue. I am intrigued by them.
And no, to this day I still haven’t read any of Hemingway’s books. The quotes are from The Dangerous Summer – which I most definitely plan on reading even if there are too many had’s – an abundance of had’s.
This is somewhat of a fictional story. I did have a conversation with Leo about this, but Jewels never joined us for cocktails. I don’t remember what he was doing in the kitchen, but I’m sure if he was there, it’s because he was either mixing a cocktail or preparing some carne asade.
p.s. Jewels – tag you’re it!