A magical night of sin

When Lilian Ross, a famous American journalist who won her position in the New Yorker thanks to her relationship with the magazine’s then editor, William Shawn, arrived in Havana to interview Papa Hemingway, she was horrified to discover that the important man was at the Floridita Bar and was very drunk.

By Sir Taki Theodoracopulos

Ross didn’t last long. She had planned to trap Papa into talking about women, hoping he would be exposed, reveal things he shouldn’t and be nosy. But he had no idea. After convincing him to sit at the table with her, she began to ask him “Have you slept with many women, Mr. Hemingway?” The answer was “I slept with every woman I wanted to sleep with and many I didn’t care for.” Ross, a budding feminist, got up and left. Papa went back to the bar and continued drinking. Ross spent the rest of her life talking badly about America’s greatest writer. In 1956, just before Christmas, I paid $20 for a short flight to Havana from Miami, where I played tennis with rich people who didn’t know how to play and made a living while staying for free at the Miami Racquet club. The flight took 40 minutes and I arrived in a voluptuous, sexy atmosphere of prostitutes, gambling and sin, and went to Floridita which was packed with people, but Papa wasn’t there.

Hemingway’s house was located in the Havana suburb of San Francisco de Paula and was a large house with white plaster and a tower where he worked by the pool. He typed standing up on a typewriter that barely fit over the bookcase where he wrote. Such was his fame and influence that when I asked a taxi driver to take me there-a 20-minute ride-the man refused unless I showed him my pass. Papa stayed in Havana even after Castro took it over in 1959, but by then he was sick and undergoing electroshock at the Menninger Clinic in Minnesota.

So, I spent the night in Havana, at the Hotel Nacional, where I had a wonderful dinner, walked the famous Malecon in front of the hotel and then visited a house where for less than 1 dollar a young man’s urges were satisfied for about 15 minutes. Havana was beautiful, a bit run down, but the people seemed happy and carefree. The next day, I took a flight to Miami to play tennis with rich people who didn’t know how to play. I never went back to Cuba after Castro took power, and the Cubans I met while competing in judo tournaments gave you the impression that they were angry at the world, a group of tough athletes who seemed very unsatisfied. I guess that’s what dictatorships do to people. Anyway, I never wanted to go back and relive a magical night of sin when I was no longer 20 years old or poor.

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