MHA day and I really needed me a little Rope-a-Dope illustration to get me in the right frame of mind.
It’s a beautiful thing.
I decided that I’d post a slightly fuller picture for the record; and for the many who have no idea what “rope-a-dope” is.
This is Ali “losing” all but the last 7 seconds of 8 rounds.
That’s the fucking rope-a-dope, folks.
For some, it was hard to square his loud-mouthed, profane humanity with his genius.
That, for me, was never the problem.
We were so much alike that I certainly told him to go to hell with all the brilliant cussing skills I had learned so well from him and, I think, bested him at.
I remember the first time I told him to go to hell, in fact.
It stood out, because at that point I didn’t cuss.
I was very young and very “good;” only six years old at the time, in fact.
I remember – and can gauge my age – because we still lived on Palm Drive in Beverly Hills. (We lived there less than a year before moving to Stanley where we stayed through splitting our time between his Park Ave apartment in New York and our small stint in Upper Saddle River before the well ran dry again and we finally had to pack up all the places and I, at ten years old, became the only adult in the family.)
Anyway, we were wiring a “chandelier” of some kind over the big table in the huge dining room, me running the last wire through the ceiling with my “spidey sense perfection” as he called it, up on his shoulders, was almost through the drilled hole above when he lit a cigarette, made me lose the end of the little red plastic bump I had so carefully threaded through the wall up through the ceiling above, only to have him snap at me for him screwing the whole operation up.
Using his big head of wavy red hair like the horn on a saddle and his shoulders as a spring board I vaulted right off him onto the table, looked him in the eye and said,
“Go to hell.”
Then turned on one toe, hopped off the huge wooden table and started off, head high, when I heard him slap the table hard with his big hand – the way everyone who knew him remembers he did in his constant, big-ness that encompassed all sight, movement, and certainly sound –
and laughed his ass off.
“Come back here, you little monkey,” he beamed, arms open wide for me to jump back up into, which I did, whispering the response he so loved into his ear in the middle of our bear hug, “No, daddy, I sloth.”
I had had a “chinning bar” from the age of toddler until I went off to college and we were still at “Number 5” when the “monkey”/”sloth” thing started, so I couldn’t have been older than 3 years, and was almost surely 2. Mom and I walked to the library every weekday and we had gotten some book on Strange Animals. I remember the Lemmings especially; the picture of them all jumping off the side of a cliff. Except I remember it as Lemons jumping off the side of a cliff. You know, Lemons.
Jumping off a cliff. Anyway, the book also had Sloths in it, and although I have no specific memory of them at all, I know I would just hang by my little legs upside down on the bar a lot, and one night Dad called me a “little Monkey” to which I responded, “No, Daddy. I Sloth!”
Anyone who knew him would understand how he would eat something like that up, and especially how he would hang onto it as one of many little back-and-forth type lines he loved to collect with friends. If you were close to Dad very long there was probably at least one little inside joke that also served as short performance art between you. One of his closest, longest, and truest friends and Dad had a pretty good little 5-line joke they readily did for friends on whether God was black or white.
(Of course Joe won. Dad would have never continued it if the underdog position didn’t win. God was black. “Hell, it’s only fair,” Dad said when he told me about the little routine they had worked out. He was so pleased with it that he, of course, had to tell me before he and Joe were able to show me.)
“You’re a Monkey!”/”No, Daddy, I Sloth!” was, till the very end, something we said to each other almost every time we saw each other for the next 30 years.
That was my damn daddy.
And I want to wish the man who loved me, annoyed me, and raised me in the oddest way imaginable, a happy birthday!
We loved each other, and my mother – all three of us so interconnected that no force, even ourselves – could ever break that bond. Mother left the cussing to me, but although she shunned it herself, I discovered quickly that she also approved of my minimally applied directed cussing at my father.
It filled a much needed void which was not her forte.
(My mother rarely cussed, the closest thing to an actual cuss word she used even semi-regularly – the only one that wouldn’t turn everyone’s head with shock – was “bloody.” She and Dad had spent about a year in England, staying mainly outside London in a beautiful old country house where she was bored out of her wits, as her journals attest, and other than her diaries and a few pictures, the only souvenir she brought back to the states was the co-option of “bloody” into her vocabulary. The perfect non-curse word, curse word. She occasionally said “damn,” which usually elicited some shock, I’m sure she said “shit” a few times in her life, but that was rare enough that I can’t remember a specific, and if she ever said “fuck” I would have died of shock on the spot.)
Dad said “fuck” every other word. He also played up the Okie Colloquialisms in California, and it was smart. He was, when he wasn’t too full of himself, a genius at self promotion.
Love you Daddy, and happy birthday.
“He may win two or three rounds. Or the first five.
But after the first five he will just be
And this is better than me jumping and dancing
wasting a lot of time
all this moving, trying to keep from getting hit
and he really
can’t hurt me”
“WATCH this thing careful tonight.
You will notice how I will just completely wind this man down.
You’ll notice, when the bell rings,
I’ll walk right out and take his shots.
I’ll offer him a deal he can’t refuse.“
Who is the dope?
“Anyone who chases me into the rope”
DO YOU SEE IT?
it’s been there all along
I’ve been there all
all you have to do
Let me tell you how this story ends. Well, not how, exactly; that will follow.
It’s called the rope-a-dope. It’s called “SAY MY NAME!”
Sometimes you have to play dead. Sometimes, that’s the only play.
Sometimes you have to wander in the desert. But it is true that all who wander are not lost. (SO- J.R.R. Tolkien)
And sometimes, just sometimes, they leave behind clues. Sometimes, sometimes, they bury treasure.
If they’re writers, if they can’t help but write all the time, all the time, all the time –
If they’re mothers, maybe they want to leave tracks. If they love their children more than anything in the whole world, maybe all they care about is that their children are okay. Maybe it tears them to pieces every single day that they cannot protect them from the evil that holds their Onlies hostage. Maybe, maybe– maybe they even went so far as getting murdered refusing to back down from protecting those children that they love more than anything.
Maybe, though, that murderer fucked up. Maybe that murderer fucked up big time.
Then what does he do? Does he get a “friend of a friend” ATF agent to hunt that mother down wherever she goes?
That bitch won’t die.
That bitch won’t die.
She can’t. She won’t. She has a job. She has always had a job.
But just in case, maybe, just maybe, that mother does things that make sure that no matter what – and I do mean NO MATTER WHAT – live, die, or otherwise, the seeds are planted. The evidence is there. The love is undeniable. The children, in the end, regardless of what happens to Mama Bear, regardless: there can be no doubt of that love. Because she WRITES. And she buries. And she entrusts. She ensures – that love, that evidence, that proof, that TRUTH – can never be wiped from history. Can never be doubted. Can never be erased.
Then, she does the hard part.
The hardest part of all. Not the having to look neutralized so that things can come full circle. So the bastard will finally get married. So that the “friend” – (Rusty, btw, yeah, you’re fucked, too,) – feels safe and secure while he self-destructs for real. Because that mother knows that she underestimated – went off half-cocked, and a million other things that, regardless of all the truly unjust and wrong things that she couldn’t help – there were things that she could have done. That she didn’t do.
That mother knows she has to learn.
That mother knows she has to be as patient and as persistent and as dedicated as her adversary. Then, that mother has to be more patient and more persistent and more dedicated than her adversary.
And she is.
Because whatever prize he wants, whatever “win” he’s looking for, that cannot distract her. She must remain totally focused on one thing and one thing, only. The only win for her is her Onlies. And she knows that it is likely that she may not make it. And worse, she also knows that to make it will require her to appear – not only neutralized, that’s not so hard – but that during that time, her only chance of making sure that when it is all said and done, regardless of the outcome for her, that there is a system set in place, in stone, ensuring that the evidence she left buried all over this country will, in fact, be found when the time comes. She can’t keep looking like she’s fighting.
She has to let the lie stand.
Because the fighting for that love is only hurting the ones she’s fighting for. The more she fights the worse it is for them. She has to look like she’s stopped.
She has to… God. It kills her. It kills her every day. But then, then she works harder. For every day she cannot actually reach out, she works harder. She writes. Letter after letter after letter. There are novels worth of love letters that survive. There can be no doubt.
By the way, as an aside, The Brazilian is dead. I did not kill him. But Cassidy, Candice: he is dead. Mal; my little angel, he is dead. He cannot hurt you.
For the record, I don’t want ATN to kill himself. I want him to live. I want him to live with the truth. Who knows, maybe he’ll find some scrap of humanity left in him and spend the rest of his life trying to make up to my Onlies for what he has done. I think that would be better for them than his suicide. I just don’t want them to hurt anymore.
The trick now, and what we are working hard on, is ensuring that we – and by we, for the record, that includes no men; but a few very capable women – we want to make sure that when the Scavenger Hunt begins that the RIGHT people will be able to get to those “x‘s” on the Treasure Map before the wrong people can get there and destroy 10 years of love letters and other trinkets.
Candicane, btw, I haven’t been able to check and make sure, but it’s possible that your American Girl doll is still recoverable. One thing about Kitchen Mesa, ain’t no fat boys climbing that bitch. Right, my love?
The Rope-a -Dope.
Why I never write right.
We’re almost home, little ones. And if something should happen to me, I don’t need a dead man’s switch. We got real, live, ABLE people working for good. Working for you. People who already love you and already know everything about you a thousand times over. Justice comes either way. Love comes either way.
We’re almost home, my babies.