Monday, March 31, 2008

Papa and Mexican Fishermen...Doing So Much With So Little

Today Catherine and I sat on the porch, well fed, rested, looking west at the great Sea of Cortez and talking of literature and booze and travel and love and sex. She is a woman whom for 25 years has traveled east to Spain to watch the running of the bulls in unrelenting tradition of excess that has been around for decades longer than us. It was Spain that Papa, Earnest Hemingway, wrote about in his novel The Sun Also Rises. I tried to recall a quote I had committed to memory so long ago....about living as though our actions had no consequence....Papa drinking Absinth and eating and drinking and not sleeping and waxing philosophically and whatnot for days on end. Catherine knows, at least more specifically in this instance, of what he speaks....and so Papa came into focus.
Catherine then shared a story about how Hemingway was once asked in a bar...or should I say he was challenged in a bar to write a short story in 6 words or less. His response, with his usual laconic and economical brilliance was:

For sale, baby shoes, never worn.

We got to talking about how, despite his brilliance he was rumored to be an arrogant womanizing prick...and I had recently read how, although she adored him, he was cruel to Dorothy Parker, that great modern, unrepentant self-possessed femme smartass. But as usual, I digress....

For it is the doing so much with so little that moved me to recall again how every time I see Mexican fishermen in their sparse pangas working the sea I am reminded that so many do so much with so little. Yesterday we passed a small fish camp on a remote shore of the Sea of Cortez where the men sat sewing, repairing their nets, sitting next to their meek shelters made of driftwood and tarps....we passed on our hearty quads noisy and powerful offering smiles and a buenas tardes. They work without the proverbial net....taking to the sea with little but their wits and a few resources and old outboards whose parts they know better than their wives bodies. They work the sea and cook fish-head soups at night on the beach and drink when it's available and talk of the return when sex and a bit more comfort will be theirs.

Later that night I sat in an austere restaurant in old Kino...where the locals go. It presents the aesthetic of an old cafeteria....with tile floors, cheap paintings, horrible lighting, the irony of a huge flat-screen TV blaring Mexican pop music. And the proprietor greets us with a handshake and the warmth of a family member and we make our order in Spanish and drink a Bohemia and talk of the day while in the back they prepare for us in a simple kitchen the fruits of those humble fisherman. We munch on chips and guacamole and wait in the grease saturated time we sit before our longosta and camarons presented on hearty old plates with an iceberg lettuce garnish and carrots and onions and cucumbers. We eat. We fill ourselves. We linger and talk of the things that educated gringas talk about. We are languid and lazy and we leave a generous tip and shake hands and smile and wish buenas noches and head back through town to sit on the porch and nurse another Bohemia under the temperate Mexican night....and later, I think about those fishermen on the beach....and the cook in the back of that modest restaurant preparing our fare....doing so much with so little.

Some men do it with nets and muscle....and some men do it with words. And I appreciate the skill and temerity of both.


Alas, today, we challenged ourselves....Catherine suggesting we write out six words as a biography. We sat and played with the language for a spell...and then we landed, for now, on the following:

Catherine's are:

Growing up was never an option.

Grad from Stanford, went to bulls.


A kind broody nut we love.

Butch, brave, kind, and slightly neurotic.

....and so it is.

...and one for the road:

Mescal and lime, a perfect marriage.

Care to take the challenge?


Peripet said...

Don't you mean "A kind nutty brood we love?" That was brood, not broad. Okay, I'm gonna do it--I'm tagging myself! Lovelovelove

Lisa said...

Here's mine:
Cabin pressure, breast implants, bad combo.