They Just Don't Make Men Like They Used To (And It's A Damn Shame)

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vintage man

I want to have a passionate, tumultuous affair with an artist — a real artist — who's both a gentleman and a little rough around the edges. A real man who's seen things and done things that most men never have and never will.

I want him to drink the hardest alcohol, fight the good fight, then still be able to meet me at the Ritz Paris, dressed to the nines, for martinis.

But those types of men are dead — and it seems a bit unfair, if you ask me.

This was what I realized this morning, as I flipped through the pages of "The Sun Also Rises" by Ernest Hemingway, with the plans to read it yet again this weekend.

Hemingway was such a man. A man with whom one wouldn't dare to trifle.

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He was always looking for a fight, but if you've ever read "A Moveable Feast," you know that he was tender romantic who believed his first marriage would last forever, but a complicated sort who would go on to marry three more times after that.

He hunted (not that I condone such behavior) and fished and traveled to exotic places, and could construct a sentence that was equal parts beautiful and brutally honest, like a punch to the gut. He went to war and survived it.

He was friends with the best of the American literary world in the 1920s in Paris, where all the ex-pats went to write and read and expose themselves to the upper echelon of culture in a city that far surpasses most.

He embodied a fullness; one that, at least through his work, you'd want to eat up if you could — and do so not by the spoonful, but by digging your hands right into the meat of it all, devouring it whole with little regard to manners and grace.

He was the man who liberated the Ritz Paris from the Germans in WWII, a place that was introduced to him by F. Scott Fitzgerald. When he was done, he apparently ran up a tab for 51 martinis, if there's any truth to legend.

As I find myself out of a relationship and single again, I think of this man often. Not just Hemingway the writer, but the man he was.

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I think about the amount of backbone it must have taken to live a life not just to the fullest, but seemingly fearlessly, face-to-face with lions and on the front lines of war.

It wasn't an easy life; it was one riddled with depression and alcohol abuse, in a family where suicide ran rampant — but it was an extraordinary life.

Nor is it an easy life for the non-existent man with whom I'd like to have the aforementioned passionate, tumultuous affair. I know that loving such a man will be hard work, a series of disappointments.

It will be a complicated affair because this man is complicated and I'm complicated, and we're all ridiculously f***ed up when we pull back the surface and see that in the underbelly of each and every one of us, there's a broken something or other in need of mending, if not replacing.

But still I'd like to give it a try with this man.

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I want to spend a summer in Paloma with him, go diving off the coast of South Africa with him. I want to eat the most expensive caviar with him just as frequently as we opt for the one-dollar slice of pizza.

I want to get drunk on too many martinis with him, then stumble home to a flat somewhere on the Left Bank of Paris, knowing that we didn't play by life's rules. Rather, we scripted something that would make for a great novel.

I want to argue with him, maybe even throw a plate or two, then lie beside him at night in our own little world, faraway from everyone else I've ever known.

Then when we wake in the morning, I'll retreat to my room to write, he will retreat to his, then we'll meet again somewhere in the middle and we'll do it all over again.

Am I asking for too much? Probably. Am I living in a novel? Most likely.

But to quote Hemingway, "Isn't it pretty to think so?"

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Amanda Chatel is a writer who divides her time between NYC and Paris. She's a regular contributor to Bustle and Glamour, with bylines at Harper's Bazaar, The Atlantic, Forbes, Livingly, Mic, The Bolde, Huffington Post and others. Follow her on Twitter or Facebook for more.