Monday, June 16, 2014

Mike's Story Part 52 - Rosebud

   Citizen Kane is the story of a newspaper magnate who, while publishing a rag that was the diametric antithesis of FTW, bore some superficial resemblance to Mike.  The film's director, the legendary Orson Welles, said, "Kane was selfish and selfless, an idealist, a scoundrel, a very big man and a very little one.  It depends on who's talking about him."    
   Kane dies uttering the mysterious word, "rosebud."  In the belief that uncovering the meaning of the word will provide an "open sesame" to the man's life, the editor of a news digest sets out to interview former associates of the newspaper giant to see what light they can shed.
   He never learns the significance of the word, but the audience does, by means of a zoom in to a close-up in the last minute of the film:  It was the brand name of Kane's sled when he was a child and taken from his mother to be "adopted" by a bank and groomed for his career.  "Rosebud," then, symbolizes the last time in Kane's life that he was simply happy.
   There is a situation in Mike's life which may perform the same service as Rosebud but it is not a happy memory.
   When I asked Mike about his mother's good qualities, he said something I neglected to include before.
   "She dressed well."
   But that one "good quality," towards which Mike clearly felt ambivalent, (the implication, "frivolous woman" lay not far beneath the surface,) fast devolved into a horrifying one.  "She had tons of clothes, I mean tons of clothes. When she died, it was like a horror movie. The hangers were hooking onto the furniture, onto plants as though they wouldn't let go.  I said, 'Mom, it's OK. You don't need them now. You're dead!'"
   Later came this: 
   "When I was nine, she seduced me. She was in the middle of a breakdown and she molested me. I suppressed that memory for a long time."
   "How did you recover it?"
   "It came up in an AA meeting. X, [Mike's AA sponsor] said, 'Listen to what you say.' I was at the podium talking about how I always stayed one achievement short of perfection but also one achievement ahead of the devil.
   'I was talking and I said, '... and when I was nine my mother had sex with me.'
   'I went to a hypnotist to recover the whole memory."  This was probably the man Mike met while on his UPS route.
   He didn't describe in any detail what the incest consisted of apart from the influence of her purported breakdown.
   Mike used the word "breakdown" loosely.  Certainly - and with good reason - he viewed his own state of mind after the burglary almost until he moved back to California as a breakdown.  But also, when he described his break-up with a former girlfriend who was under pressure to finish her thesis, he said she was having a breakdown.  His employee who sued him for sexual harassment was, in his lexicon, going through a breakdown.  And one evening when the prospect of preparing dinner made me physically ill, I went to bed instead; Mike later described that as, "when you had your breakdown."
   So it's impossible to know what condition his mother was in when she "had sex with" her nine-year-old son.  But it did resurrect my clinical psychologist friend's observation that people may go "crazy" in order to do what they want to do anyway but which the sane mind will not allow.
  There are also clues that some sort of molestation may have occurred earlier.  Mike's dream, relayed in previous posts, of leaving for a business trip while his two children were in the bath, bore the suggestion that he was leaving them naked and helpless to the predations of their mother, (the former employee who was suing him for sexual harassment and whom he viewed as a predator and government agent.  It's worth remembering that both his parents worked for or with government agencies which he pursued his entire adult career and which paid him back in kind.  And once, while referring to the women in his life who'd abused him, he listed his mother, Teddy and the young female employee.  I've wondered if he leapt out of bed when I touched him lightly, saying my approach seemed "insincere," because he suspected me of being an agent.  Agents and young women, as I'd seemed at that moment - fourteen years old, to be exact - were intertwined in his experience and therefore, his mind.)
   He once said, "My mother was destined to be crazy, with all the incest in her family.  That stuff about West Virginia is true. 
   'I don't know why I think so, but I think she was once pregnant by her father."
   The reader may remember earlier in this account where Mike said his mother was crushed by his father's betrayal because he'd saved her from her own father.  Perhaps her pregnancy by her father, if Mike's intuition was correct, was responsible for the two stillbirths she endured after marriage.
   One morning a groan emanated from the bathtub.  "I remember I was eight or nine. [An older boy] sodomized me. But I don't remember if it really happened or not.   
   'When I was five, we were living at [he gave the address] in Pikesville. A neighbor boy, X - I remember his name - and I... We were about five. We had our pants down. You know those hammer and tool sets?  I had an anvil and I touched his rectum with it but I remember thinking, 'You can't put that in there; that hurts.' How did I know that?"

Deadly Nightgown

   My main nocturnal garb that winter was a standard issue flannel nightgown with blue flowers on it, placed at delicate intervals.  A more innocent garment could hardly be imagined. 
   But Mike was terrified of it.
    "There's something about the way we made love that reminded me of [a teenage crush.] When I was nine, we went to visit [his mother's friends.]  They had a son, A, who was a year older than I was and B was eight.  "A" called me upstairs.  There was B with her legs spread and her vagina lubricated.  Her mother walked by while this was going on.  C was there too, about three. She wanted to play too. 
   'Their father called me in that night and said, 'Do you know how to play [a kind of] poker?'  [I didn't catch the name.]
   'He brushed all the cards onto the floor. 'That's what happens when you touch something that isn't yours.'
   'When B was twenty-one, she visited me. She wore a nightgown like the one you had on. She pulled it up; she had nothing on underneath. We made love. We had a torrid affair after that."
   My nightgown also reminded him of the grandmother in that household where he had spent a portion of his youth.
   "You know, teenagers sometimes get so tired in the afternoon, they just fall asleep on the floor.
   'One day I fell asleep by the fire. When I woke up [the grandmother] was standing over me in a nightgown like that. I could see right up to her [obscenity.]"
   I've never been entirely sure the grandmother was aware of what Mike could see.  His hallmark question, "Cui bono?" or, "Who benefits?" helps trace corruption to its source.  But like any valuable way of looking at events, it can be taken too far.  Those who followed Mike closely at FTW or later, Facebook, witnessed how he could lash out against a comment he took to be disinformation generated by an enemy whereas it was more often a guileless observation from a newcomer not versed in Mike's perceptions.
Anyway, perhaps now the reader has a greater understanding of the implications when I did something such as worrying or not having pictures on the wall that reminded Mike of his mother. 

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