The comb-over

I‘ve been boning up on Hemingway recently.  Just finished a great bio published in September titled Hemingway’s Boat.

In the last few years I’ve read Farewell to Arms, The Sun Also Rises and For Whom the Bell Tolls, my favorite.  I tried to read Islands in the Stream, but I bogged down.

Islands was released posthumously, nailed together from notes by Ernie’s widow and publisher.

I also read Death in the Afternoon, which is sloppily written and seems to have skipped the editing process.  It’s fantastic, however, for its detailed information on bullfighting if you like that sort of thing.  I surely do.

At the moment I’m reading a book by one of Ernie’s daughters-in-law, an Irish woman named Valerie who, in 2005, published Running with the Bulls: My Years with the Hemingways.

Ernie had the hots for Valerie  in the late 1950s when she worked for him as a secretary, but he never got lucky.  She was 19.

Valerie later married Ernie’s youngest son, Gregory/Gloria, a cross-dresser and then transsexual who died of a heart attack in a Miami jail at age 69.

He was nutty as a fruitcake, a sad sack.

The only Hemingway books I had read before I turned 60 were The Old Man and the Sea and A Moveable Feast, both relatively short, which is why I read them.

I’m going to read them again.

Now let’s get to the subject at hand, the purpose of this post.  First off, Ernie was boorish, jealous, selfish and vain. Not romantically jealous, mind you, but of other successful writers.

He was a first-class jerk.

There is no worse manifestation of vanity on a man than the comb-over, the silly and painfully obvious attempt to cover a balding skull.

Ernie’s comb-over was more of a comb-forward.  Click the photo.

The hair lack became moot when Ernie removed the top of his head with a Boss 12-gauge shotgun in the entrance foyer of his home in Ketchum, Idaho, in 1961, leaving an ungodly mess for his fourth wife, Mary.

But it was one less comb-over in the world and, by God, that’s a good thing.

15 thoughts on “The comb-over”

  1. A funny sort of thing I saw in Ketchum: the crosswalks have little stands with the little red roadworker flags stuck in them that you are required to carry across the road as you cross. You then deposit the flag in the stand across the street having avoided being run down by the locals. If you get flattened crossing without a flag, it’s no harm no foul.


  2. I wore my hair long till I made my first trip to Mexico (a monthlong drive through the back country in a VW bug), had it cut police style for the low profile look I try to pull off when I’m out of my bailiwick. I wear it short but own a few hats for when the sun is out — not too common here along Erie.


  3. The worst “comb over” is Donald Trump. Hope he reads your post. Bald headed men are sexy, I think. Why don’t men stop worrying about those kind of things? Wow, I bet I just opened a whole can of worms with this comment!


    1. Babs: The Donald is indeed the poster boy for stupid comb-overs. I bet Yul Brynner got far more hootchy-kootchie than the Donald gets.

      Another silly hairstyle is ponytails on old men. It yells: I never got outta the ’60s!


  4. And here I was ready to compliment you on “The Cabin” by saying it reminded me much of Hemingway’s writing…I guess I can still say that…but even without having met you in person I know by your exceptional writing that you are certainly not boorish or selfish…vain I’m not so sure about…I’ll have to ask the Lady Zapata if I ever have the pleasure of meeting her! Regarding the hair thing…comb-overs are the worst…especially in a strong wind! But I feel that hair styles (pony tails or whatever), like abortions. should be a personal choice…I have wondered at times what the Donald must look like first thing in the morning…not sure there’s enough money in the world to have to experience that on a daily basis! Saludos amigo…


    1. Billie: Funny you should mention The Paris Wife. Before opting for Valerie Hemingway’s book, I was toying with the possibility of reading the Hadley book, and I may read it as soon as I finish the one I am reading.


    1. Jack: You are quite right. Strut your stuff! Or lack thereof. As Ms. Babs confirmed above, women get hot at the sight of a smooth dome.

      If I were bald it would be in the wide open too.

      But, ahem! . . . I am not.


  5. Make sure you read some of Papa’s short stories, amigo. I personally think the short form was his strong-suit. If you haven’t read it, try a collection called “The Nick Adams Stories.”

    I try to keep the hair on my balding knob cut short–don’t even want the temptation…


    1. Ray: I’ll do that. I found The Old Man and the Sea, used paperback in English, for sale in a restaurant downtown here a couple days ago. It was half the Kindle price, so I bought it and am reading it. Yesterday, I ordered a paperback of The Moveable Feast from Amazon because there are two versions, and the first version is not available on Kindle, just the newer version. I wanted the older one. You can almost classify The Old Man as a short story. It’s just 100 pages long.

      And it heartens me to know you’ll not be doing a comb-over.


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