Today's the rider's birthday.
I see you're already lower-casing him...
Would you rather I...
What is this "I." You have none.
Today's the rider's birthday.
Except he's dead.
In a contrary mood today?
Not in the way you'd think.
I'm you're friend, remember? And I can't hurt you. I have no body.
Neither does Krang.
The bodiless brain. The Ninja Turtles' nemesis. The guy who oversees
all of their activities.
And yet you carry him in your pocket like a good luck charm. You perplex
your son who can't see the humor in your perversity because to him Krang is
just, to put it plainly, disgusting.
Just his brain. On the show and the Nintendo game his naked
brain is always
safely encased within
a robot's body
where his stomach
and not his head
ought to be.
Ought? I thought we had done with the realm of could-have-been. The realm
Who is ever done with—anything?
Just because I agree with Marie-Louise Von Franz's
"no more shoulds"
doesn't mean I'm freed from the actuality.
And just because the rider is dead
doesn't mean that today isn't
April 17. I'm fine, really.
I believe you.
But the week has been—.
I know. But think of it this way: you're lucky that you can break down.
I kept scratching my brain in imagination trying to remember if this was
the week when B died a year ago. And J the same week the year before.
After each death something went wrong with your body.
All right, all right. Even though I had the flu I dragged myself to the gym
to stretch out on the mats and listen to some calming music on my
Walkman. This was going well. I had my arms and legs extended as far as
possible in the opposite direction and I could feel my lungs release...,
but when I reached for my toes I...convulsed and burst into tears.
Good thing you'd worn your sunglasses.
Yeah. I knew that the tears could have been mistaken for sweat and the
and while it was days before the date, as if emblazoned (would stare me
down-to-distraction) I just could not stop thinking about the intimate
quiet moments we shared; our rare and wonderful moments of true soli-
tude together...; the unforced gentleness and sense of mutuality...:
That's so unimportant. The point is that he had internalized the lessons;
it was in his nature to be that way.
I don't see what's so strange. His birthday was approaching. You were sad.
That's perfectly normal.
But what pierced me at that moment like an axe was the recognition
that I never had
a conversation with my (blood) father.
Don't be dumbfounded. My feelings about the two men are always in
dialogue, crissing and crossing.
Lying in that relaxed position on the exercise mat
listening to the intervals
in Ry Cooder's mesmerizing Paris, Texas score, it
hit me that as my father's
birthday approached, or the hour
of his suicide neared,
that I felt mildly aware, mildly sad,
but not remotely devastated and torn that I had lost
someone with whom I had an intimacy that could
never be repeated.
You know I don't mean it that way.
Then be precise.
Someone who, at least in crucial times, communicated a warmth and
love and care without
competing with you and undercutting you at every instant like
your blood father. And your grandfather—.
That's what I'm here for.
So I was torn by a new perplexity with regard to my real father. I never
lived with him but we spent countless hours alone together and he was
often, before he hit the bottle, quite friendly, easy-going, low pressure.
We liked to hobo around together.
But even looking at clusters of the best moments we had in each
other's presence we still never had
a conversation. He had his
mind made up about me and, with his game-plan fully laid out,
chose to employ this or that tactic to
edify, or instruct..., to
lead me onto better paths
for I am in no way criticizing his motivation in trying to help
it was just that he had no
He knew in advance anything I could possibly think or say.
But it wasn't personal. It was just the way he was. You brought
a friend to dinner who was stationed on a ship outside Nankeng
Harbor. Your father appeared to listen to his sea stories
—and the thing that "most blew his mind"—
when the missle, launched
from the ship, landed
a peasant hoeing rice who "didn't know where the hell
he was going"
and blew him away completely
and the sailors laughed
—and your friend came apart—
and while your FACE showed proper astonishment
just pawed the place mat
to rid it of imaginary crumbs
and with stern and solemn nods
that withheld surprise at all costs
and gravity of tone worthy of Lincoln!
told your friend that the gist of war was boredom
and he, perhaps unused to such practiced delivery during
took this in then whispered wide-eyed that he could not believe
how your father could know everything he'd gone through
when he'd never gone through it
and while his sadism was not in full flower in such isolated
instances it was
No wonder I was touched when Sam agreed to an evening of five-card-
stud on one condition: "no poker faces"!
Your father's mask was his face.
No - but that he cared more about the impression he made than about what
you or your friend were undergoing.
He was always onstage, your father. Preening for posterity in a void of his
He was never, or always and only, himself.