September 28, 2010

why yes, i a.m. in the radio

By this time I was wishing I had not stopped into Chicote's but had gone straight on home where you could change your clothes and be dry and have a drink in comfort on the bed with your feet up, and I was tired of looking at both of these young people. Life was very short and ugly women are very long and sitting there at the table I decided that even though I was a writer and supposed to have an insatiable curiosity about all sorts of people, I did not really care to know whether these two were married, or what they saw in each other, or what their politics were, or whether he had a little money, or she had a little money, or anything about them. I decided they must be in the radio. Any time you saw really strange looking civilians in Madrid they were always in the radio. So to say something I raised my voice above the noise and asked, "You in the radio?"
"We are," the girl said. So that was that. They were in the radio.
--"The Butterfly and the Tank," Ernest Hemingway
Slowly making one's way through H's Complete Short Stories has its perks. You are reminded of some pretty funny (and spot-on) truths about life. For instance, if you're a would-be writer, you probably are curious about "all sorts of people," but it's not always easy — sometimes people just feel like they're going to be boring. Another thing that is (or appears to be) true is, you don't need to be attractive to work in radio.

Here's a thought. Next time you meet someone who seems boring, try asking, "You in the radio?" If they catch your drift, things may get interesting. And if you end up taking a liking to the person, just explain that it's nothing personal...you were just quoting Hemingway. You do that when you're nervous, sometimes.

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