Mother’s Drunk But The Band Is Good

My junior year at Chapel Hill I took American literature with Dr. King who was notorious for two things: giving A’s generously and wearing his whale tie on the day on the day we kicked off Moby Dick. Dr. King’s class was wildly popular and my friends and I always staked out front row seats in his auditorium lectures.

As we were wrapping up the final lesson on Moby Dick, he prepared us that we would start studying Hemingway in the next class. He went on to cite examples of how deeply passionate people are about Hemingway, including stories of people who traveled to his grave to pay homage, spent hard-earned money on first edition Hemingway books, read all of his stories and the saw the movies they turned into.

Pshaw! That was nothing! Teach me something I don’t know Dr. King.

hemingway1 My father is a big Hemingway fan. I mean huge. We had just spent the previous Christmas holiday in Sun Valley and went to see Hemingway’s grave on Christmas morning. But that was nothing. Oh no, I had the Hemingway fan story to beat them all, and after class I marched to the front of the auditorium and told Dr. King about it.

You see, one time my dad was leisurely reading a biography about Hemingway but started to grow extraordinarily frustrated with countless inaccuracies on the author’s part.  Frustration mounted and turned into outright rage at the moron who had written this egregious load of crap. So what is a true Hemingway fan to do? Well, my dad took the big clunky hardback book into our backyard, propped it on the family picnic table and shot it.

Oh you heard me correctly. He shot it. It lives in infamy on the family bookshelf to this day (somewhere near the picture of Frank Smethurst) with a bullet lodged in it.

Needless to say Dr. King was completely bemused by this anecdote and insisted on seeing the book. My dad fedexed it to me and a few days later Dr. King held it up in front of the entire class the day we kicked off Hemingway. I got an A plus in American lit.

A few months later my mother and I took a trip to Key West. I don’t remember why we went or why my dad couldn’t join us, but we were sure to hit all of Hemingway’s haunts. We toured his home with all those crazy cats, we went to a bookstore and found a rare copy of an old Hemingway book for my dad, and one night after dinner we made a pit-stop at Sloppy Joe’s, Hemingway’s favorite bar.

I guess I felt bad that my dad couldn’t be with us on this trip and being such a sweet daughter, I scribbled him a little note on the back of a coaster.  All these years later he found that coaster just the other day….



17 Responses to “Mother’s Drunk But The Band Is Good”
  1. Papa says:

    Funny about your dad shooting the book….

    i’ve done the Hemingway tours….but one of my favorite Hemingway rants was after the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane when there was much controversy about the WWI vetrans who were killed there working on the Overseas Highway.

    Hemingway was at his utmost worst though when he was a war corespondent.

    Here is my blog on the 1935 Hurricane Memorial in Islamorada

  2. Murdock says:

    Best post title ever. The world would be a better place if more of us shot (inanimate) things that brought us displeasure.

  3. Mark says:

    Six-toed cats….

  4. Wally says:

    Your dad’s got a gonzo streak. I wonder what Papa would of thought of Hunter S.
    BTW, very nice penmanship.

  5. Dash says:

    Awesome post. Sounds like the makings of the perfect country song.

  6. You have got to get your Dad on the next flight to Cuba so he can drink in El Floridita and La Bodegita de Medio, and then check out Finca Vigia. Plus there’s sick fishing.

  7. Jonathan says:

    “that’s all we do, isn’t it—look at things and try new drinks?”

    I enjoy your blog!

  8. Harry says:


    You have had some great posts, but this is got to be the best.

  9. topper says:

    Wonderful, just wonderful.
    Thanks for sharing.

  10. Rodster says:

    Kudos! I own everything Mr. Hemingway put pen on paper to. The greatest opening line in any American novel every written will always be, “He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish.” I also made A’s in American Lit. Thought it was an easy credit since I already knew how to read and write, but ended loving it and still do. Best fishes, Rod

  11. Tosh says:

    I just paid $12 for a burger in the Cancun airport just so I could get Bubba Gump’s WIFI password and get online. This post just made that the best $12 I’ve ever spent. Way to go Chick!

  12. James Ewing says:

    Just wanted to let you know I am following you on twitter and I am putting a link to your site on my blogroll.

  13. Thanks James. And thanks EVERYBODY for the kind feedback!! Crazy family stories really just seem write themselves to tell you the truth

    After more than just a few emails from family friends laughing hysterically at the coaster note, I feel obliged to reveal the true irony of it….my mother doesn’t even drink. I really have no clue why I wrote that. just stirring the pot I guess!

  14. trout boy says:

    remember chick, there will be a time when little chick starts to tell stories on her mother. I am now suffering from that same thing with our little troutness and her younger but hipper brother.


  15. Harry Morgan says:

    Really enjoyed that post. I’ve buried myself in Hemingway in the last two months after getting back from a Keys fishing trip. On the trip, I realized that I was more intrigued by Hemingway himself than the fictional stories he wrote so I’ve read two biographies on him since. He’s life is beyond interesting and I can’t seem to learn enough about him right now. In fact, I asked Mom stop by a couple of his bars/restaurants he’d frequent while she was in Paris last week.


  16. Jim Wilson says:

    As a writer and associate editor of a magazine, I read lots of stories every day. This one is truly very nice. Love the title, love the story, love the way you wrote the story. I also went to Chapel Hill and knew Dr. King, one of the great teachers at UNC. Also like your dad’s approach to the Hemingway book. There are a number of books that could do with being shot.

  17. Jersey says:

    Hemingway was at his utmost worst though when he was a war corespondent.

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