It's usually my favorite time of year in Key West: The Annual Hemingway Days Celebration. But this year the spots in and out of Duval Street teem with invisible Hemingways.
COVID-19 has shoved a wrench in the machine of all sorts of Key West festivals. Just a couple of weeks ago the announcement came down that Fantasy Fest was postponed for 2020 as well.
Okay, maybe Fantasy Fest is my favorite time of the year in Key West. Maybe it's something else.
Every day is a holiday when you live at the Southernmost Point of the United States.
In any case, I miss the Hemingways. I miss the Hemingway lookalikes.
Santa Claus on Vacation
Last year I started crossing Truman Ave only to be almost gunned down in a rampant golf cart. The driver wore khaki and looked like Santa Claus. I knew right away the Hemingways were back.
A medal swung around his neck. He leaned his overweight body into the turn.
If you've ever seen Santa wrestling those reindeer as the sleigh ejects into the night sky you know what I mean. This dude defined the word "Careening."
He shouted over his shoulder "Sorry."
What did he have to be sorry for? I was the one standing in the way of a prospective lookalike contestant showing up for registration at Sloppy Joe's.
The Hemingways Descend
The best part of the Hemingways descending is the juxtaposition of history and moment. All of a sudden there isn't just a disproportionate number of gray-bearded stocky dudes wandering around.
They begin to don red berets and wear shiny white outfits. They congregate and laugh and drink too much and tell bad stories.
Have you ever seen 25 Hemingways talking on their cell phones on a busy city street? I have.
Who knows what Hemingway would think of all this. Stories say he got miffed at the Key West tourism experts who pointed out his house as an attraction.
Forget attraction. Hemingway's a spectacle in Key West these days. You wonder if some of these people even ever read one of his books.
The FaceApp Complication
Seeing Hemingways all over Key West is a joy. Or a bizarre surrealist painting.
Last year was even better. Hemingway Lookalikes were all over the internet too.
If you remember, last year around this time, everyone on social media was using FaceApp to make their mugs look old as dirt.
Half my friends on social media looked like a bearded old man. They were Hemingways too!
Hemingway Lookalike Poetry
I have been fortunate enough to participate in readings of Hemingway poetry for the Key West Poetry Guild. Unfortunately, Hemingway wasn't the best poet in the world.
Don't tell his ghost I said that.
Last year after I almost got gunned down in my near-Hemingway experience I decided to go one better than Hemingway Poetry. I'd write Hemingway Lookalike Poetry.
The result was included in Poets Reading the News. You can read 120 After Hemingway at PRN.
Who knew that one year later the City of Key West would only have invisible Hemingways? Happy 121 Birthday, Hem.
Send good thoughts to all of those dejected old men wandering around the four corners of the earth instead of staggering down Duval Street.
Just in case you need some other poems to get you through, you'll find more at my publications page.