Ernest, the Little Lion

Last night I watched the Thanksgiving episode of Gilmore Girls, where Lorelai and Rory run into Kirk on his way out of the cat store and proclaim, “He’s always been a cat person, he just never had a cat.”

That’s me. Except now I have a cat.

My roommate wanted a kitten and when she met her new best friend, roommate’s mom made me hold the kitten’s brother and BAM, I came home with a kitten and named him Ernest. Actually, I let someone else hold him and he reached out for me and I yelled, “Shut. Up. Gimme the paperwork.”

He runs at me when I get home, he chirps at me when he enters a room, he headbutts me when it is snuggle time. He sits on my feet while I read. He nuzzles me when I’m upset.

* * *

A year ago I had a rough time. Depression, ~sad girl daze~, whatever. I couldn’t focus on anything and couldn’t read a book. Ernest Hemingway’s books were the only ones I could read. He brought me out of the darkness.

I know, I know. He was a drunk, misogynistic a-hole and his books aren’t exactly the peppiest. But the staccato finality of his writing felt like the only static thing in my life.


By coincidence or not, I now live in the town next to Hemingway’s birthplace. I took a walk to the house on his birthday to say hello. A group of people behind me on the sidewalk let me have my moment, then walked up to the house as I left.

A few weeks later I went on a tour of the house and met a sassy woman who works in the gift shop of the museum. They sell the usual Out of Print T-shirts, one with a most excellent Hemingway beard on it, and one that says “Hemingway’s Fifth Wife.” She told me I should get that one. Then asked if she could tell me a funny/dirty story.


“This little old lady came in not too long ago. She asked if we had any XXL shirts. I said to her, ‘You must have quite a big man in your life!’ She looked me dead in the eye and said, ‘No, I wear ’em to sleep in, and I’ve always wanted to sleep with Hemingway.'”

So there’s that.

The ridiculous idea of naming my cat Ernest was to ward off the darkness. Hemingway saved me a year ago; maybe this little lion can save me year-round. So far, he’s doing a good job. I love him.

If not, he can at least keep my feet warm while I plow my way through the rest of Hemingway’s novels. This winter feels like a time for For Whom the Bell Tolls.