Monday, April 21, 2014
Mike's Story Part 3: Dad
By Jenna Orkin
"My dad had a great life," Mike said one day. "War hero in two wars. Fought in one; was a [I didn't catch the term] in the other. Made money. Died taking a shit, which he loved. So do I," he added, with a defiant smile. "But what did he do to make the world better? Paid his taxes; took care of [his second wife.] He just kept the system going."
On another occasion: "My dad was so in control, even after he had a cerebral hemorrhage while taking a shit, he managed to get himself to his favorite chair."
A major reason Mike worked so fiendishly to finish Crossing the Rubicon in 2004 was that he wanted to present it to his father before he died. (The other reason was that he hoped to sway the 2004 election.)
He succeeded with the first goal and got the satisfaction of watching his father's entrenched Republican views transform into an acceptance of Mike's. And he got to bask in the pride his father felt about his achievement.
"He did love me, though," he reflected.
"When I was five, I had my first eye operation. When I woke up, I had a patch on my eye. And next to me on the pillow was a teddy bear with a patch on his eye. I think the doctor put the patch on.
'My father did do some things when I was very young. We went to a Baltimore Orioles game. He took the cub scouts to something.
'That lasted 'til I was ten. He abandoned me to my mother. He was never there; he couldn't stand it. He was always traveling. I thought if I was just good enough, he might come and get me." His father only showed up, he said, when Mike had won something and Dad could preen.
One night at a party, Dad gave Mike, who was in his teens at the time, a drink. Under the influence, Mike told an anecdote which ended, "And then Dad beat the shit out of me."
His father was furious.
"He gave me a drink, then got mad when I acted the way people act when they've had a drink."
From the diary I kept during the period Mike stayed in my apartment:
January 21, 2007 This morning, he awoke with a start from a nightmare that black-clad guys in jackboots were coming to get him. This had followed two other dreams in which his father was beyond reach.
In a fourth dream, Mike was going on a trip, leaving his wife, [he gave the name], with their two daughters, ages five and nine, who were in the bath. He had chosen that moment to leave so the children wouldn't make a fuss.
In discussing the dream, he said that his father used to leave that way when he went away on business, without saying good-bye, and leaving defenseless ("naked") Mike in the hands of his mother.
Long time Ruppert aficionados may remember [the name of his wife] as the plaintiff in a sexual harassment suit against Mike which she would eventually win. However, she was never able to collect. More on this (though it's not worth much time) later.
"He was a war hero; he worked hard, made a lot of money. But he didn't do his duty by me."
"Not only that," I added. "He left you to do his duty." (In many ways, some of them unhealthy, Mike took over his father's role in the household.)
"Son of a bitch." He looked towards the ceiling. "Dad, you're fired. That son of a bitch. I used to have a shrine to him in my office in Ashland, with all his war medals. It's time we execute my Dad."