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Sterling Cooper’s Heroes: Ernest Hemingway

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Here’s a classic riddle for you. If a tree falls in the forest, do any frat guys give a shit? The typical answer would be: I’ve already spent too much time listening to some idiot talk about trees. But there is a corollary. Yes, a fraternity man should care if a tree falls in the forest if that tree goes on to make paper used to print an Ernest Hemingway novel. Why? I’ll tell you why…because that’s my job.

“They say the seeds of what we will do are in all of us, but it always seemed to me that in those who make jokes in life the seeds are covered with better soil and with a higher grade of manure.”

Hemingway was your standard issue four-sport high school student. Back in those days, boxing was a high school sport, which has sadly been lost due to the increased influence of PTAs and video games…and fat ass kids. He probably could have gone to any number of great schools after graduating (and would have pledged for sure, right?), but instead decided to go straight into journalism, which lasted a grand total of one year before he volunteered to serve in World War One. He was an ambulance driver, which ordinarily wouldn’t sound all that impressive, except he was seriously wounded while delivering cigarettes to the men at the front line and still managed to carry an Italian officer back to safety. He earned a medal of bravery from the Italian government for this act (which I’m pretty sure is just a big bottle of wine with a ribbon on it). So next time one of your brothers complains about having to stop on the way to the bar to get cigarettes, tell him “if it’s good enough for Hemingway, it’s good enough for you to shut the fuck up.”

“You know it makes one feel rather good deciding not to be a bitch.” (Is there any better quote for pledging?)

Hemingway was known as a member of the “Lost Generation” of writers, who contributed some pretty cool stuff to the world. He used to booze heavy with James Joyce and F. Scott Fitzgerald, who both admitted that there were many nights that they couldn’t keep up with Hemingway. This is especially awesome because Joyce was Irish and Fitzgerald fucking died from drinking. Lots of famous people have certain drinks that are associated with him. Hemingway really doesn’t. Why? Because he’s associated with all the booze. Seriously, start typing, “what did Hemingway…” into Google, and the first response is “what did Hemingway drink.” Which is cool in and of itself, but that makes “what did Hemingway write” number two. So yes, he’s known more for his drinking than his writing, and since he’s considered one of the greatest American writers of all time, what do you think that says about his drinking?

“A man does not exist until he is drunk.”

“I have drunk since I was fifteen and few things have given me more pleasure. When you work hard all day with your head and know you must work again the next day what else can change your ideas and make them run on a different plane like whisky? When you are cold and wet what else can warm you? Before an attack who can say anything that gives you the momentary well-being that rum does?… The only time it isn’t good for you is when you write or when you fight. You have to do that cold. But it always helps my shooting.”

One thing that separated Hemingway from his fellow writers however, was that instead of sitting around in cafes all day whining about whatever those café sort of people whine about, he was also sort of an outdoorsman. Actually he was sort of an outdoorsman in the same way that Muhammad Ali was sort of good with his hands. He faced down a charging water buffalo during a hunt and always returned to fish whenever he was troubled. And he also wrote the best book about fishing since the fucking Bible.

“Somebody just back of you while you are fishing is as bad as someone looking over your shoulder while you write a letter to your girl.”

“To me a heaven would be a big bull ring with me holding two barrera seats and a trout stream outside that no one else was allowed to fish in and two lovely houses in the town; one where I would have my wife and children and be monogamous and love them truly and well and the other where I would have my nine beautiful mistresses on 9 different floors.”

I could make this column exceedingly long very easily. I’m leaving out his WWII service, his altering of his fishing boat to attack German submarines, his various outdoor adventures, and the fact that he led a band of resistance fighters in the liberation of Paris even though he was only supposed to be a fucking magazine correspondent. Hell, I could have just made an entire column using only Hemingway quotes (and it probably would have been way better). Do yourself a favor. Read up on some of his adventures. And more importantly, read some of his work. Or all of it. And grow a badass beard. In fact, just try to be Ernest Hemingway. If you can’t, it’s ok. Neither can anyone else.

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Sterling Cooper

Sterling Cooper is a contributing writer for Total Frat Move and Post Grad Problems. He has never understood why people like sand, and has been in a bitter ten year rivalry with Muggsy Bogues, for reasons neither of them choose to reveal.

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