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Ernest Hemingway’s Dead Cat Letter Meets my Dead Dog Text

April 3, 2012
Ernest Hemingway on safari, Kenya, 1954

Ernest Hemingway on safari, Kenya, 1954 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I realized today that Ernest Hemingway and I have something in common.  It’s not that we both write.  Ernest Hemingway wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea, and a bunch of stuff that actually got published and read by millions of people, and I write a blog, so the two aren’t really comparable. 

Last week some of Ernest Hemingway’s old letters to friends were released to the public, and the news stories and commentaries focused on Hemingway crying when he had to kill his injured cat.  That’s not news.  Nobody wants to kill their pets.  Even tough guys get misty-eyed when their pets die; it’s even worse if you have to do it yourself. 

It’s not the revelation about Ernest Hemingway’s cat in his letters that I find interesting; it’s a statement where he admits that he didn’t write very good letters. 

I don’t write very good letters either.  I’m guessing Ernest Hemingway’s letters are better than mine, but I don’t write letters anymore, and I’m not going to read his, so I guess I’ll never know for sure. 

I write to communicate, but I don’t write to be social, which is why I don’t write letters.  I don’t have a Facebook or Twitter account.  I only email or text when I need to tell people something but I don’t feel like talking to them.  I don’t post pictures of myself, my family, and our vacations.  I don’t care if others do it, but it’s not for me. 

Letters are kind of personal, and I don’t like writing about personal stuff either.  I’d much rather write dirty jokes about politicians and celebrities doing stupid stuff in public (while I hope nobody notices the stupid stuff I do every day).

From what I understand, Ernest Hemingway thought he didn’t write very good letters because he wrote a lot of other things first every day, and by the time he got around to writing his letters, he was already written out .  His reason for not writing good letters is way better than my reason.


Last summer, my 15 year old dog died.  He had been sick for a few months, and we knew the day was coming, but it was still rough, and I didn’t want to talk about it to anyone. 

On the day my dog was put to sleep, I texted a couple people to let them know, but other than that, I didn’t write about it.  Instead, I wrote a dirty joke about Anthony Weiner’s package for Dysfunctional Literacy.  It was actually a pretty good joke.  Bill Clinton, Brett Favre, and Anthony Weiner were at the post office comparing their packages when… okay, that’s not the point. 

I probably should have at least dedicated the joke to my dead dog, but he got me back.  That night I stepped into his final gift in our back yard.  And my family thought that was way funnier than my Anthony Weiner package joke.

I’m probably not going to write any letters about my dead dog, but I still think about him a lot.  He was a cool dog.

One Comment
  1. My dog died too. No reason to get too sentimental, tho she was a real good dog. On my blog yesterday I put up a picture of her together with a song I sung called Ol’ Shep, which is about a dog. Ya see Ol’ Shep gets old and Hemingway, no, it was Red Foley the country singer, has to shoot him. But couldn’t, etc, etc. It’s a cute song. Unlike Hemingway, who was never cute and who I understand had a thing for cats.

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