|"Avocados for Breakfast" Art. Truth. Beauty.|
I was once hired to write a brochure for an English painter named Patricia Townsend who moonlighted as a tour guide at the Hemingway House. I invited her over for dinner, at which time I hoped to get to know her better.
"Can you come at six?" I asked.
"Yes, if the damned tourists don't keep me late asking ridiculous questions about the great Hemingway," she said scornfully.
"What kinds of questions?" I asked.
"Obnoxious ones. They want to know: 'Is this where he shot himself?' and 'Is this where he went to the bathroom?' They're disgusting! "
"So we'll see you around six?" I asked.
"Yes. All right. But tell me, what do you eat? No meat, I hope."
"No," I assured her. "No meat. I'll fix pasta."
"With tomato sauce?" she asked. (She pronounced it toe-maaa-toe.)
"Yes, and lots of garlic," I said. "We love garlic. It discourages the mosquitoes."
"Oh, I can't have garlic! It will carry on my breath when I give tours to the Hemingway fans," she said.
"Fine. No garlic," I said.
"You don't have any animals do you?" she asked.
"No." I said.
"Because I hate the way you Americans go on about your house pets. People go mad for those mangy Hemingway cats. They pick them up and kiss their little faces! I find it utterly appalling!"
"No animals," I said. "But we do have a little boy. Do you like children?"
"Ab-hooooooor them," she said, turning her head as if avoiding a bad smell.
|Waiting for Hemingway.|
In fact, I never did write that brochure. And Townsend, who'd hoped to find happiness and artistic success in Key West, was ultimately very disappointed. Her next move was to Indiana, and that's where she died.
|The avocado tree next door.|
The heavy bough of a particularly productive avocado tree hangs in our neighbor's yard. We imagine there was a time when Hemingway noshed on these beauties. Of course we do, too.
At avocado time, which is now, we eat lots of avocados. We cut them in half. Remove the seed. Fill with oil and vinegar salad dressing. The Cubans make a salad with avocado chunks, onion slices, and oil and vinegar. Yum. And when we eat our avocados, we prop up Townsend's painting, which we love, on the table, before us. We display it in the kitchen, always, and in the 25 years it has been with us, I'm afraid it has suffered through more than a few splatters of one thing or another. Nonetheless, we feel it belongs in the kitchen.
I'm sure Townsend would ab-hooooor that.