edited: Thursday, July 25, 2002
By J. W. Murphy
Posted: Thursday, July 25, 2002
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If you are or have been a student of Hemingway and Fitzgerald then this will definitely tickle your funny bone. If you haven't read The Great Gatsby and For Whom the Bell Tolls then I'm sorry but this article will make no sense.
Two men meet each other for the first time in the afterlife. Both men's lives were the products of other men's ideas and both died in their prime.
"Hello there, old sport, it's nice to make your acquaintance. Jay Gatsby is the name, and yourself?" Extending a firm but poised hand as he said this, he set the other man at ease with his calm demeanor.
The other man shook his hand, offering: "Salud, I am called Roberto."
"Roberto? May I call you Robert, old sport?"
"Yes, of course, I get caught up in the Spanish rhetoric that my author had me use. Nameís Robert Jordan."
"I believe that I read a book where the main character had the same name some time agoóFor Whom the Bell Tolls I believe it was. What a tragic ending."
"Yes, that would be meóMr. Dynamite. You wouldn't happen to be the same Gatsby that is The Great Gatsby would you?"
"I am one and the same."
"Sorry the way it ended for youóshot by Myrtle's husband thinking that you were her lover, very ironic."
"Thank you. Both our hopes were crushed at the end of our books, old sport."
"At least your author didn't maim you first."
"Well, at least you got the girl, old sport. I waited five years for Daisy and look how it ended!"
"Look at the bright side. You got to think of your true love for five years--I found my true love and only had three days to live an entire lifetime with my little rabbit."
"That is right but you did get the girl."
"Well, you were rich and safe at home and I was out fighting a war."
"But the way in which my author had me earn that money was less than admirable. In fact, everything revolved around Daisyóthe parties, changing my life completely, the involvement in illegal behavior. How realistic is that, really? To think that someone would stoop down to such a level and lose themselves so completely in the pursuit of a woman is completely ridiculous! And to think that I had to be the guinea pig for my authorís romantic fantasy!"
Robert thought that he was just the sort of person for such an endeavor and laughed inside. Vocally he said: "Que va. Love can be a powerful force. My author was going to make me give up being a guerrillero for an office job at the rear for Maria." I would have gladly done it too, he thought.
Robert reached for his wineskin, took it, pulled the plug, and squirted a long, thin stream of the cool liquid into the back of his mouth. "Would you like some?"
"Thanks, old sport. That would be quite all right. I never did like those highballs my author used to make me drink with old Mr. Wolfsheim." He attempted to mimic Robertís squirting a stream to the back of his throat but some of the wine dripped off of his chin, luckily he caught the drip with his left hand before it dripped onto his pink suit.
"Donít worry Gatsby, that was just fine for your first try at the wineskin. Takes a little getting used to." He received it back from him and then took another quick squirt before putting it away.
"Thatís good stuff, old sport."
"It is, itís no wonder that Pablo couldnít keep away from it." What is this old sport business? I wish that he would stop using that phrase so much.
"Sometimes, I wonder if our authors realize how much pain that they put us through in our stories?"
"I agree, old sport."
There he goes again. Now calm down Jordan. "Hemingway has me fall in love and lose it all in three days. During that time I have to sit and wait while Sordoís band is killed not far away, have my bags sabotaged by Pablo, have to rig the dynamite with hand grenades instead and see Anselmo killed in the process, and get my leg crushed by a horse. Then I have to say goodbye to Maria and then wait for the cavalry to come finish me off. Itís too much."
"I understand, old sport, I had to fall in love and go to war and have my Daisy find someone else while I was gone. Then I come back and am so poor that I have to wear my uniform around since I canít afford clothes. He makes me so bent on getting Daisy that he has me get involved with Wolfsheim to make enough money to win back Daisy. Then he has me move to West Egg and hold parties to lure Daisy so that I can see her again and show her how wealthy I am. I have to make a fool of myself before Tom and Daisy and then be killed because Iím mistaken for Daisyís husband. He made my life like a soap opera."
"Yes, it is very sad what we had to go through so that our authors could make money." If he says old sport one more time thatís it.
"Youíre right, old sport."
"What do you mean, old sport."
"Itís bad enough that I had to go through so much while I was alive but now I have to put up with your "old sport" obscenity in the afterlife? Go defile thyself."
Robert Jordan walked away as Gatsby looked on wondering what obscenity and defile meant.
(Even though I didn't directly quote the books involved I used phrases that were used in both books.)
1. Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Scribner,1995.
2. Hemingway, Ernest. For Whom the Bell Tolls. New York: Scribner, 1995.
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