Credit: public domain/Dos Equis
When Dos Equis recently invited Guy Code Blog's editors to meet The Most Interesting Man in the World at its New York City masquerade a couple weeks ago, I was torn. On the one hand, I never turn down an opportunity to drink free beer. On the other hand, I felt guilty for accepting the company's nectar when I'd soon blast its famous spokesman in print.
Yesterday marked the release of my guide to masculinity based on the life and works of Ernest Hemingway, "The Heming Way: How to Unleash the Booze-Inhaling, Animal-Slaughtering, War-Glorifying, Hairy-Chested, Retro-Sexual Legend Within, Just Like Papa!" And in the book, I hammer The Most Interesting Man as a pale imitation:
The khaki-sporting, world-weary globetrotter sports an iconic white beard. He loves women, and women love him. A multilingual expert on topics ranging from big cats ("Running in place will never get you the same results as running from a lion") to boxing to art to sharks, he personifies a rugged-yet-sophisticated masculinity that no longer exists. No, it's not Ernest Hemingway; it's The Most Interesting Man in the World, a corporate mascot and cheap knockoff...
Unlike the cowardly Dos Equis shill, Papa would never run "from a lion"; he courageously ran towards lions, and would feed The Most Interesting Man in the World to a pack of them before suing the unorginal bastard's mauled cadaver for copyright infringement. Stay thirsty, my friends. Hungry, too.
And then there's a photograph of a lion eating a bloody slab of meat. So, you can see why I'd feel slightly awkward meeting Jonathan Goldsmith--the actor who portrays The Most Interesting Man--but the experience was shockingly positive.
After entering the Grand Lodge of Free & Accepted Masons (the first time in a century non-Masons were allowed inside), I received an "Eyes Wide Shut"-style mask, as did 2,000 other guests. The atmosphere was orgiastic enough for Kubrick, thanks in large part to the naked models in body paint...
Credit: Dos Equis
Oh yeah, the appetizers were grasshoppers and scorpions--which I didn't eat, because apparently I'm not as courageous as I'd like to believe--plus you could hold an owl and a hawk, which unfortunately weren't appetizers.
Credit: Dos Equis
In the VIP room, which featured a giant Yeti statue for some reason, a publicist led me to The Most Interesting Man. I felt like a total jerk shaking the guy's hand, considering what I'd written. Nevertheless, I asked him whether Hemingway was his primary influence.
"I think he was marvelous," said Goldsmith, in his character's trademark Spanish accent. "Every sentence was so tight. He was the Picasso of words."
Just as Hemingway could tell whether a bullfighter had true afición, I suddenly knew that Goldsmith is a hardcore Hemingway fan. I had prejudged him, and I had judged wrongly.
If you talk to Elvis performers in Vegas, they'll tell you that they prefer the word "tribute" to "impersonator," because they're honoring the King, not simply mimicking him. The Most Interesting Man certainly isn't Hemingway--he's not a writer, or technically a real person--but if he inspires even one person to pick up classic novels such as "The Sun Also Rises," "A Farewell to Arms" or "For Whom the Bell Tolls," then he's justified his existence.
"Nice beard," I told Goldsmith as I walked away. "Papa would approve."