Never go on trips with anyone you do not love. ~Ernest Hemingway
Aaahh . . . one of my favorite Hemingway quotes. You’ve probably heard it before. Heck, I’ve written about it before. But did you know those words were a reaction to a road trip Hemingway took with F. Scott Fitzgerald?
Scott (Hemingway called him Scott, so I think for the sake of consistency . . . ) had some, um, issues with alcohol. The man was perpetually marinating in something. And Scott was a notorious lightweight, which made him a frequent target for Hemingway and the other members of the
Drink Heavy or Go Home Club Lost Generation in Paris.
Hemingway and Scott once took a road trip from Lyon, through the Côte d’Or, and back to Paris. They left from Lyon in Scott’s Renault, which was somehow missing its top. (Apparently, it was damaged on a previous trip and Scott’s wife, Zelda, had the top cut off . . . but never replaced). So off they went in their topless car, fueled by several bottles of white Mâconnais. (Hem & Scott must have missed the Mothers-Against-Drunk-Driving PSA.)
Naturally, it started to rain. And so they made a bunch of stops along the way. And each time they stopped, they drank another bottle of the Mâconnais. Several bottles of wine were nothing to Hemingway. But to Scott? Ooof. Eventually, Scott became quite affected, and convinced himself he was dying of congestion of the lungs, which he insisted was “indigenous to Europe”. Hemingway managed to convince him that Mâcon wine was “almost a specific against the disease”, and they drank another bottle.
The rain never let up, so they finally stopped at a hotel in Châlone-sur-Saône. Scott took immediately to bed. This irritated Hemingway, who snarled, “You haven’t any temperature. How the hell are you going to have congestion of the lungs without any temperature?” So, Scott insisted Hemingway find a waiter to bring him a thermometer so he could prove he was dying.
At this point, Hemingway started thinking about how drinking wine was as healthy and normal as food . . . (insert quote from last week). But, those words continue with this:
Hemingway went on to add, “I could not imagine that harming anyone driving in an open car in the rain.” Right. The open car and the rain were their problems. The five bottles of Mâcon had nothing to do with it.
The thermometer finally arrived and . . . Scott had no fever. And, just like that, he felt swell. He got up, out of bed, and they were on the road back to Paris. Defeated, Hemingway said, “You could not be angry with Scott any more than you could be angry with someone who was crazy.”
Or a raging alcoholic. (Just a thought, Hem.)
After Hemingway finally deposited Scott back at his own apartment in Paris, Hemingway came home to his wife Hadley. She asked if he’d learned anything at all on the trip. His response? Never go on trips with anyone you do not love.
And there you have it.