This is a very long, dialogue only conversation between House and his psychiatrist at Mayfield that makes up the entirety of one session. I am splitting it into two parts, because of the length. I will probably add another session to this. But don't hold me to it. There will be another story that is part of this verse. It's almost done, at about 9000 words. But I'm not sure when it will be posted.
Sixty Minutes With Dr. Nolan
"And I'm handicapped…still."
"You have more than enough time to make it to my office, and a number of orderlies who would be happy to push you here in a wheelchair, or anywhere else in the hospital for that matter. They'd probably even carry you, if they had to."
"I'd rather limp."
"You value independence over punctuality."
"Even if means being late?"
"Ten minutes. Big deal. It's not like you're not being compensated."
"It's not a big deal."
"Then why mention it?"
"I was making an observation."
"A pointless one."
"I intentionally schedule your sessions right before my lunch break. So I can go over if I have to."
"Oh aren't you clever."
"Therapy is important to your recovery."
"What exactly am I recovering from, aside from terminal boredom and a diet consisting mostly of preservatives and starch?"
"What do you think you're recovering from?"
"Then why are you here?"
"That's a good question, doc. I'm detoxed. I'm not hallucinating. And yet you guys don't seem to want to send me home."
"I think you have some deeper issues to address."
"And I obviously don't. I signed myself into this joint."
"But you can't sign yourself out. Only I can do that."
"Oh that power, it's so very sweet."
"Yes, that's why I do it. It had nothing to do with wanting you to have a clean bill of mental health."
"Nobody has a clean bill of mental health. Pull any five people off the street and you can diagnose them with some…disorder."
"But you're the one who is sitting in my office."
"If you discharged me, then you could go to lunch early."
"Maybe I value your mental health over my lunch."
"Maybe you should find a new place to eat."
"You don't think you're important?"
"More important than a five dollar foot long? It comes with chips and a cookie, you know."
"What I don't understand Greg, is why you're so resistant. I get that this isn't the most pleasant experience. It seems almost like you'd rather drag it out than just do that which would make it pass more quickly, which is to actively participate."
"What can I say? I'm a masochist."
"You enjoy suffering."
"Definitely possible. But I don't think that applies here. Recovery is hard…I grant that. But you're intentionally making it harder for yourself than it even needs to be, and you're intelligent enough that I find it difficult to believe you aren't aware of that fact."
"I don't want to be here."
"But you are here and you know that you can't leave until I discharge you, and you know that I'm unlikely to discharge you when you continue to be uncooperative. So explain to me why a person as obviously intelligent as yourself would go out of his way to make something more difficult for himself."
"I just told you, I don't want to be here."
"Your behavior suggests that you do. If you really didn't want to be here, you'd be doing whatever you thought might urge me to discharge you faster."
"I wouldn't pretend to know what that is."
"Again, I find that hard to believe. As a doctor, you know exactly what you'd have to do and say to facilitate your own release. And yet here you are, making things harder on yourself by refusing to cooperate."
"From your expression, I'd say you've heard this before."
"You're not the first person to try to assimilate me, if that's what you mean."
"I see. Who else has attempted to assimilate you?"
"Who hasn't tried to assimilate me?"
" That's what I'm trying to find out…teacher, coach, parent?"
"My father, for one."
"Your father told you that you were making things harder on yourself."
"What do you think he was he referring to?"
"I don't know…life?"
"Was your life difficult?"
"Everyone's life is difficult."
"That's probably true. But right now, let's talk about yours."
"It was…life. We moved a lot. Nothing interesting happened. I had normal childhood woes…how many firecrackers will I need to blow up GI Joe…and why did I leave my Tonka truck out in the rain to get rusty?"
"Why did you leave your Tonka truck in the rain to get rusty?"
"Something Oedipal, definitely. The rain was like…my mother. No, the rain represented chaos. And the truck…was my penis. And the rust was…okay the rust was my penis and the truck was like…my self esteem…"
"You don't believe in symbolism?"
"Sure…but since I'm not a character in a Hemingway novel."
"You could be."
"But I'm not."
"So what do you think your dad might have been referring to, if your life was as uneventful as you say?"
"He was a bit of a control freak."
"Meaning he was controlling of you. How?"
"Rules and regulations."
"Two things you seem to openly resent even at this stage of your life. Think there might be a connection?"
"How did your father go about enforcing these rules and regulations?"
"Discipline…was one of his favorite words. You would have liked him."
"Why do you think I would have liked him?"
"Because he would approve of your methods."
"I find it interesting that you'd group me in with your father. Do you consider me to be an authority figure?"
"I can't leave unless you discharge me."
"So the imbalance of power is how you define who has authority over you."
"How do you define it?"
"Some authority is granted. Some people give authority to a god or gods who cannot be seen or heard. An apprentice chooses to obey his master out of respect. Who do you respect enough that you'd choose to obey?"
"No one in this room."
"Did you respect your father?"
"Not by his standards."
"Which implies that perhaps you did respect him, but he was either unable or unwilling to acknowledge it."
"No…I didn't respect him by my own standards either."
"I see. Why not?"
"Did your father's discipline include corporal punishment?"
"Why would you ask me that?"
"A problem with authority figures can almost always be traced back to some form of corporal punishment."
"So…is that a yes or a no?"
"Do you think he was physically abusive?"
"Depends on the person. I've known people who due to their culture, were quite severely whipped as children and claim to be a better person for it. I've known people who never had a hand laid on them and ended up traumatized by mere words. I'm asking if you felt abused. The term implies motive, but not necessarily specific action."
"I don't know."
"You don't know if you felt abused?"
"Explain to me the context of that statement. Your father said you were making things harder on yourself. What things?"
"I don't remember."
"But you remember the statement. Somehow I doubt you'd remember the statement, but not the context. Was it made in reference to some sort of discipline that he was using to enforce his rules and regulations?"
"So…your father thought you were trying to postpone that discipline by stalling, that he was encouraging you to get it over with quickly, and you didn't comply."
"I wouldn't say…encourage."
"So…what would you say? Give me a verb."
"So it was a negative experience."
"You felt criticized for not wanting to readily submit yourself to whatever discipline he might have chosen for you. Perhaps he was attempting to goad you into compliance, appeal to your ego."
"Goad is a good word."
"Did he ever use physical discipline against you for no reason at all?"
"I don't know what you mean."
"Was it usually in response to an actual misdeed, or could it happen unexpectedly and without warning?"
"No…he…I mean I did stuff. It wasn't like he'd just randomly walk up and start beating on me."
"Was it the kind of stuff that warranted discipline? Do you think corporal punishment was an overreaction?"
"He was strict."
"Greg…that's not an answer."
"I don't know what you want me to tell you."
"I'm trying to find out how much of your attitude towards authority figures is a result of your inherently rebellious personality and how much is the result of genuine emotional trauma."
"You think it's my fault?"
"Fault is irrelevant. Conflicts arise not just when there's a conscious disagreement, but when there is a stark contrast between the way two people think and behave. There isn't necessarily a right or wrong party. Did he ever discipline you for no reason at all?"
"I already told you, no."
"Did he ever discipline you for something that it would have been impossible for you to avoid?"
"What I mean is, were you armed with the knowledge that would have given you the ability to avoid being disciplined?"
"I knew what the rules were, if that's what you mean."
"So you knew what they were, but chose to break them. Why?"
"Did he ever physically overpower you in an attempt to carry out the discipline?"
"I don't…not really."
"This is making you uncomfortable."
"Yeah…well, you know. If you're just going to tell me I had it coming, I could probably have saved you the trouble and telephoned my mother instead."
"I didn't say you had it coming. That was your mother's position on the matter?"
"Probably. But it's not like she really knew."
"Really knew what?"
"What he was doing to me."
"What was he doing to you?"
"Do you think it would have changed her opinion if she had known what he was doing?"
"Maybe. Probably not."
"Some people believe it's the father's role to discipline the children. Did she express any opinions about your father's methods?"
"She'd…say he was doing it for my own good."
"Even though she wasn't completely sure what it was he was doing."
"So she must have trusted him completely to tend to those matters, to the point where she didn't think it was necessary for her to be involved."
"And you disagreed with that assessment, that it was for your own good."
"Did you tell her this?"
"Did you make any attempt to inform her about the extent of your father's methods?"
"I just didn't."
"Were you afraid she might not believe you?"
"I don't know."
"Were you afraid your father might exact some sort of revenge?"
"I don't know."
"Did he ever threaten to?"
"No…I don't know."
"So…is that a maybe?"
"No. It's an I don't know."
"Were you afraid of your father?"
"Everyone was afraid of my father."
"So that included you."
"And how long did you continue to experience this fear?"
"Pretty much up until earlier this year."
"Ah…and what changed earlier this year?"
"So…you were afraid of him even throughout your entire adulthood and the only thing that quelled that fear was his death."
"I was kidding. Can you not detect the sarcasm?"
"I detect the sarcasm, which you seem to use only when you're attempting to deflect. Which is why I don't think you're kidding."
"Everyone was afraid of him. He was an intimidating guy."
"Some might make the same observation about you."
"I'm not intimidating."
"Why would you say that?"
"I'm…just not. Trust me. I walk with a cane, for God's sake."
"So you think handicapped people can't be intimidating. You think that physical strength and agility are the only means of intimidation?"
"That's not what I meant."
"Then what did you mean?"
"I just meant…it's not like I'm much of a threat."
"So someone has to be physically threatening, in order to be intimidating."
"That's what intimidating means."
"It can mean lots of other things. You're basing that definition solely on your interactions with your father. In your mind, your failure to succeed in a power struggle with your father constitutes a failure to be intimidating."
"I'm not basing anything on my father."
"Then why bring him up?"
"Technically, you did."
"Because you….whatever. I'm not basing anything I'm doing now on him."
"Most men do, even the emotionally healthy ones."
"Yeah, and what if they had no fathers?"
"They…substitute that role with another male or perhaps a dominant female. Even primates do this. The moment at which the male realizes he is physically or intellectually capable of overthrowing his father is a very important one…the ceremonial passing of the torch. It's an experience that requires mutual interest and participation. In simple terms, the father has to be willing to lose that battle, because he knows that the alternative is losing the relationship."
"My dad was not willing to lose anything."
"And so he forfeited any chance of gaining your respect or affections, and sentenced you to self doubt and an inability to derive meaning from your life."
"Well, now I can't say that he never gave me anything."
"Do you feel like he contributed to your life in any positive way?"
"Were you were a difficult child?"
"All children are difficult."
"Must you always speak in generalities? I'm asking if you feel that you were especially difficult."
"I guess I wasn't exactly every parent's dream."
"You were a disappointment."
"Was that a question?"
"No, it was a statement. You implied that your parents are or were dissatisfied with you at some point. When did that start?"
"Why do you think they might have been disappointed with you?"
"Were you a planned child?"
"No. I was the result of an affair that my mother refuses to acknowledge took place."
"I see. Did your father know about the affair?"
"I don't know for sure."
"How did you figure this out, since it sounds like neither your mother or father would have volunteered it."
"I noticed some obvious biological differences."
"But you never conducted any sort of definitive tests?"
"I did actually…at his funeral. I took a DNA sample."
"And your lifelong suspicion was finally confirmed."
"How did that feel after all that time, having your suspicion confirmed?"
"Sounds like it was dissatisfying."
"No balloons and confetti fell from the sky, if that's what you mean."
"Were you hoping they would?"
"What were you hoping would result from that knowledge?"
"Did you confront your mother with this information?"
"What do you think would happen if you did?"
"She'd…cry and then accuse me of being petty. He's dead now, see. So whatever shitty things he did when he was alive are null and void and now we can only remember the good things about him, as if there were any."
"Was you mother emotionally manipulative?"
"Give me an example."
"She'd claim to hate conflict. She'd…say she didn't want us to fight. But then she'd run to him with every little thing."
"So you feel like she betrayed you."
"Do you think at least some of the discipline you received was a result of your mother's…like you said, crying to your father about every little thing?"
"Sure…probably some. I mean some things he'd never have known about. She didn't have to tell him."
"Why do you think she did?"
"She couldn't handle anything by herself. She could hardly handle changing a light bulb, without someone there to hold her hand. She's the last person you'd want around in an emergency."
"It sounds like you hold her at least partially responsible for the animosity between you and your father."
"You think that might be connected to the fact that your mom had an affair, which she refuses to acknowledge and therefore put you in a position to be raised by a man who was not your real father?"
"Oh I think there might be a connection."
"Did your perception that your dad was not your real dad have any impact on your reluctance to accept discipline from him? Or did that realization come later."
"I was about twelve when I figured it out."
"Ah. So I assume there wasn't much in the way of discipline past that point."
"How old were you when he stopped utilizing corporal punishment?"
"That's…kind of old."
"Would you describe it as excessive?"
"The reason I ask is that's traditionally a punishment for younger children, one that can often be humiliating and emotionally confusing, if there's no real communication going on. To continue utilizing it even after puberty is generally not effective. If you were out of control, breaking laws…that might explain why your father felt desperate enough to employ such methods. But if you were well behaved, then those methods could be labeled excessive."
"I…wasn't well behaved."
"I see. Were you badly behaved?"
"I don't know."
"You don't know? You were either badly behaved or you weren't."
"I don't feel qualified to say."
"Because I'm biased."
"Were you ever in trouble with the law?"
"A few times."
"What did you do?"
"Just…you know, stuff."
"One night when my parents went to bed, I waited until they turned out their light and…I borrowed my dad's car."
"Where were you going?"
"And you were arrested?"
"For driving without a license."
"How old were you when this happened?"
"Right…not old enough to drive and I imagine there was also a curfew of some sort. Was that your only offense, or just the most noteworthy?"
"That was…I mean, there were other things. But nothing quite like that."
"Did you serve time for this?"
"Sort of. The charges were dropped."
"Because of your age?"
"No because…it was on a military base and the car was my father's and…he was friends with the guys who arrested me."
"I see. So your father smoothed that over for you?"
"Did he do that a lot, smooth things over when you got into trouble?"
"A few times."
"Give me another example."
"He talked to the principal once, to keep me from being suspended."
"What did you do to warrant suspension?"
"I had a…disagreement with a teacher."
"Ah…physical or verbal?"
"A little of each."
"And did your father discipline you for that offense?"
"I was a senior in high school when that happened."
"That doesn't answer my question."
"He…ignored me for a few days."
"What purpose was that meant to serve?"
"I don't know."
"What purpose do you think it was meant to serve?"
"Clearly, I wasn't worthy of his very valuable attention."
"So you think he was shunning you?"
"Do you think it might have been related to his own feelings of frustration? Was he perhaps going out of his way not to interact with you, because he knew he was angry and might do or say something he would regret?"
"I don't think he had any regrets."
"You don't think your father regretted anything."
"Aside from me, of course."
"You think he regretted your existence?"
"It would explain a lot."
"But if you were the result of an affair your mother had, then he's technically not responsible for your existence. So he can't very well regret it. Do you mean that he regretted being your father? Because that was a choice he made. The other was not."
"He didn't choose anything."
"So your mom just…thrust you at him and said here, have a kid and he was powerless to stop it.
"She got pregnant when he was overseas."
"So he came back and discovered this?"
"But he's probably intelligent enough to realize that based on your date of birth, you'd been conceived while he was away."
"So…he must have made a choice. At some point, he must have said to himself okay this isn't my biological child. But I'm going to be his dad anyway."
"And I'm sure he regretted it."
"If that were so, wouldn't it have been easier to leave? He could have divorced your mother, instead of lugging you both around the globe like that. You said they were married for fifty years."
"He wasn't going to leave her over me."
"So he chose to stay for her."
"Okay…tell me about being arrested? How did your parents find out?"
"It was…late, around midnight. I had a fake ID that I was going to show at the guard station. But I never made it off the base. The MP recognized me and took me in. I assume he called my parents at home to let them know I'd been detained."
"And they came to get you."
"No…my dad told them he'd come in the morning."
"He wanted you to spend the night there in the cell?"
"How did you feel about that?"
"I wasn't surprised."
"What happened when he picked you up?"
"He came the next day…early. I'd slept in the cell. They…woke me up and dragged me to this room…"
"My dad and a couple of other men."
"What kind of room?"
"It was like…a conference room or an interrogation room. It was empty except for the table and chairs and a coat closet. And I was still half asleep at first. They didn't even say anything to me."
"Did you ask what was going on?"
"As soon as we got in there, two guys…they each grabbed one of my shoulders and forced me face down over this table."
"Your feet were still on the floor?"
"So you were just kind of hunched over it."
"Yes. So no one was saying anything and this other officer came up behind me and just…started undoing my pants."
"To do what?"
"I thought…maybe my dad had told them to strip search me. Except that didn't make sense, since I was being released and I heard one of the other men say that there weren't going to be any charges."
"Why do you think your father would want them to do that?"
"To complete the whole jail experience."
"You were basing that on the fact that he'd opted to leave you there overnight. You think he wanted to humiliate you."
"Where was your father when this was happening?"
"He was standing there…behind me."
"So how many other men were there besides him?"
"Four. One was just standing by the door. Two were holding me down and the other was yanking on my pants."
"And your underwear as well?"
"That must have been embarrassing."
"It all happened kind of fast."
"Meaning…you didn't have time to process it emotionally at the time. But it was thirty-five years ago. I'm asking you now whether it embarrassing."
"Okay, then what?"
"I heard someone opening the coat closet and I looked over my shoulder and my dad had one of those…you know those things teachers used to use before they came out with laser pointers?"
"Like…a long stick?"
"Yeah. I guess they use them on cadets."
"Use them…you mean for disciplinary purposes?"
"Huh…I didn't know they could do that."
"In the military, they can do anything they want to you. You're like property."
"But you weren't in the military."
"Right. What did you do when you saw it?"
"I…kind of freaked out."
"I'll bet. You must have been terrified."
"It didn't do a whole lot of good. I mean I was a bean pole and these guys were…"
"Military personnel. So they were in good shape."
"Yeah. So one of them started talking to me, saying stuff like just cooperate and it will go a whole lot faster and it will be over soon. I think he was implying that he'd been in my situation before, not that it was very comforting at the moment."
"Did you cooperate?"
"Okay…explain in what way you struggled."
"I tried to get away and I kicked and…the other guy came over and got down on the ground and…grabbed my ankles."
"So you couldn't move?"
"You were outnumbered. Why did you struggle, if you knew it wouldn't do any good?"
"Were you afraid?"
"What do you think?"
"I'm asking you."
"Your father say anything when this was going on?"
"Just…I don't know, the same old shit. He was disappointed. The least I could do was take it like a man, show some dignity."
"How did you feel about those words?"
"I don't remember."
"How do you feel now about them?"
"He…I don't know. I thought he was an asshole."
"Okay, that's not quite a feeling."
"It is for me."
"Did he hit you with the stick?"
"Eventually. But it seemed like a long time before…I mean, it was probably only a couple of minutes."
"Time is relative. What happened when he hit you?"
"Did you cry?"
"I don't remember."
"You can remember how many men were in the room and what your father said to you, but you can't remember if you cried."
"I probably did."
"You either cried or you didn't."
"Why does it matter?"
"Why can't you answer the question?"
"Fine…about how many times did he hit you?"
"I didn't count. It seemed like a lot."
"How many is a lot?"
"What happened when he was done?"
"The guy who'd been holding my legs let go and went to the coat closet for a first aid kit."
"Were you injured?"
"I don't think so. He just…sprayed some disinfectant on me. But also, I threw up."
"Why do you think you threw up?"
"Physical response to pain?"
"What happened then?"
"The other two men let go of me. One kept a hand on my back while the other guy was spraying me."
"Trying to comfort you."
"Was it a comfort?"
"What was your dad doing at this point?"
"He put the stick back in the closet…he wanted to go. He yelled at me for throwing up, said I was a disgrace. The officer whose hand was on my back…I remember him telling my dad to just hold on and let me catch my breath."
"What did he say exactly?"
"Something like he's had enough, John. He's been punished and he's sorry. Why don't you go take a walk and give us a minute?"
"How did your dad react to having someone else tell him what to do?"
"He looked pissed. Thing is…he was a first sergeant."
"He was enlisted. My father outranked him."
"But he called your father by his first name?"
"I think they might have known each other prior to being in the military."
"Why would you think that?"
"My dad…had a very distinct accent."
"Where was he from?"
"And this man spoke that way also?"
"I find it interesting that you would pick up on something like that, even in a high stress situation. What did your dad do then?"
"First he said that I wasn't sorry, that I'd never been sorry in my life. Then he left the room."
"So he complied, to some extent. How do you feel about that statement, that you've never been sorry?"
"I don't know."
"I think it's interesting that you remember that statement. It was obviously significant to you. Have you ever been sorry? Were you sorry at the time?"
"How do you communicate that to people? When you hurt someone…a friend or a coworker…when you hurt their feelings or make a mistake, how do you communicate that you're sorry…words?"
"Words are useless."
"Apparently not, if this anecdote is any indication. Can you think of any logical reason why your dad would make that observation about your character?"
"If you did something wrong and were caught and punished, how likely was that particular event to repeat itself?"
"Depends on what it was."
"So these events did repeat themselves."
"So do you think your father's belief that you'd never been sorry might have stemmed from your apparent inability to learn from your mistakes?"
"I don't know."
"Okay…we'll come back to that. What happened after your dad left the room?"
"The guy who had his hand on my back told me to pull up my pants. Then he put his arm around my shoulders and started talking about all the trouble he got into as a kid."
"Trying to relate to you, make you feel better."
"Yeah, I guess."
"Did it make you feel better?"
"How did you respond?"
"I don't know…I didn't care. I mean, I was like that's nice. You guys just held me down so my dad could beat me."
"You said that?"
"What did you say?"
"Nothing. I just…he was like Greg, we're just trying to help you be a better man. In a few years you'll be on your own and you'll appreciate this discipline. I know your dad is hard on you…but it's for your own good…blah blah blah."
"Ah…there's that phrase again. It's for your own good. Probably you'd have been a bit more receptive had you not spent the past few minutes getting your tail whipped."
"Probably. He walked me back out. But when we got to the lobby he told me to stay put, so he could talk to my dad."
"What did they talk about?"
"I don't know. My dad didn't look happy, not that he ever did. Seemed like they were arguing for a few minutes. Then the other guy looked at me and smiled and waved me towards my dad's car."
"Did your dad say anything?"
"No. He was quiet the whole way home."
"Was that common…the silent treatment? You said before that he'd ignore you."
"How long did he ignore you that time?"
"The usual…about a week."
"Did he ever bring it up again?"
"No. Which was weird, because usually he would. Things I did, I would never hear the end of it. This he never brought it up again, even when there was a wide open opportunity in the conversation."
"Why do you think this was different?"
"I don't know."
"Do you think it had something to do with the offense itself or the intervention of the...sergeant major?"
"I honestly don't know. We moved a few months after that and I never saw any of those men again."
"Did you ever take your dad's car without asking again?"
"So…you learned from that mistake?"
"So…the punishment was effective."
"Yeah…well you beat anyone enough and they'll eventually surrender."
"Did you surrender?"
"Sure, that time."
"But in general. Did you surrender your will to your father's authority, or would you say it was more like a constant struggle?"
"Did your dad ever spank you again after that?"
"He threatened to once. But he never did…not after that."
"Why did he threaten you?"
"I don't remember."
"Try really hard."
"We were fighting."
"About which college you should attend or just college in general?"
"About me not wanting to enlist. It escalated and I got…belligerent."
"From your tone I assume that it was he who applied that term to your behavior."
"Do you think you were belligerent?"
"I don't know."
"Greg…enough with the I don't know. You have thoughts and opinions and you know what they are. Yes or no. Do you think you were belligerent?"
"Okay, then. And how did he phrase that particular threat?"
"He said…I had a lot of nerve speaking to him that way and he threatened to take off his belt."
"And what did you do?"
"So I take it he didn't follow through."
"No. But I was like…seventeen by then. I was like two inches taller him. He must have realized I was too old."
"And he didn't really have any other way to exercise control over you, besides the threat of violence. I imagine that must have made him feel quite powerless."
"He was anything but powerless. He yelled plenty."
"But did that deter you? Did you listen? Could you be reasoned with?"
"I don't know. Depended on the situation."
"So you respected his authority. You did what you were told, while living in his home, without having to be threatened with violence."
"Can I ask how you would feel if you got a phone call in the middle of the night and discovered that your son had taken your car and had been arrested?"
"I don't know."
"Would you be angry?"
"Would you be humiliated?"
"I don't know. That's why I didn't have kids."
"Because…that kind of stuff is inevitable. Kids are idiots."
"So you are on some level acknowledging that it may not have been anymore pleasant to be in your father's position?"
"I'm sure my position was slightly more unpleasant."
"I was the kid."
"You don't think adults have feelings?"
"Adults are not helpless."
"Some are. A few minutes ago, you implied that your mother was helpless."
"Well he wasn't."
"Imagine that you had this child to raise, that you weren't one hundred percent sure was even yours, but you were expected to care for him and teach him right from wrong…and he seemed reluctant to listen or behave."
"Yeah…boo hoo. Forgive my lack of sympathy."
"Ah, but I don't think you lack sympathy. I think you are in fact, quite sympathetic. If you genuinely didn't care at all, we wouldn't be sitting here."
"I don't feel sorry for him."
"That doesn't mean you don't acknowledge his suffering."
"Trust me, I was the one doing most of the suffering in that scenario."
"I imagine if you resented authority and were reluctant to learn from your mistakes, that you were suffering quite a bit."
"Yeah…and I imagine we could get my mom on speaker phone to say the same thing. You guys can tag team."
"You feel like I'm against you."
"My job is address all sides of the situation, even those which you would prefer to ignore. I'm merely pointing out that your dad was a human being, meaning that he wasn't perfect and he may have made mistakes for reasons that you have not considered."
"My dad never made any mistakes."
"He perceived himself to be incapable of error?"
"He was reluctant to admit fault or accept responsibility for anything."
"And who does that sound like to you?"
"Go to hell."
"Why react so strongly to that question?"
"Seriously, go to hell."
"Again…why react so strongly?"
"Because it's bullshit. I never claimed to be perfect."
"But you are quick to blame things on others. Even your feelings you blame on other people. That's a learned behavior."
"I'm nothing like him."
"Why would you say that?"
"Because it's true. He's not even my real father."
"That doesn't mean he didn't have influence over you."
"We were nothing alike."
"You're basing that on the logic that, if you had been more like him, perhaps he would have been more accepting of you, been more forthcoming with validation and approval?"
"You know it tends to be our own faults that we find most frustrating in others."
"Yeah? So what do you find most frustrating in others?"
"It would help you to know that I have faults?"
"No. But it might be interesting."
"Okay…I have a difficult time with procrastination, especially when it comes to household projects. So I am often frustrated when I see that same behavior in my children, in regards to their schoolwork."
"Because I don't want them to experience the difficulties that are associated with that particular shortcoming."
"Huh. No, I guess it wasn't that interesting."
"Do you think it's possible that might apply to you and your father?"
"He was frustrated by pretty much everything."
"That's an unfortunate way to go through life."
"Can you think of anything in particular that he was especially frustrated by?"
"He didn't like being late."
"And now you deliberately go out of your way to be late. Is it possible those two things are connected?"
"What else was he frustrated by?"
"He…didn't like being questioned."
"If I asked why, he'd say…because I said so and that's the only explanation you're going to get."
"So he didn't think it was important for you to understand why you were doing something."
"Do you think that might have stemmed from his military training?"
"I'm sure it did."
"And you clearly don't enjoy answering questions yourself, especially those of the why persuasion."
"Not the same kind of questions."
"What kind of questions would you ask, that your father would react adversely to?"
"Like…whenever we moved, I'd ask about where we were going, why we were going there, how long we were going to stay…"
"Do think it's possible that maybe he didn't know the answers to all of those questions and that was actually the source of his frustration?"
"He must have known something, or we wouldn't be moving."
"Not necessarily. Military personnel are often expected to follow orders without explanation. It's possible that he was just doing what he was told and he was every bit as frustrated about having to move as you were."
"If he hated it so much, there were plenty of civilian jobs available to him. He could have been a commercial pilot."
"Maybe that's not what he wanted to do. Maybe he thought what he was doing was important enough to make sacrifices for."
"That's fine, except he wasn't alone."
"You were also expected to make sacrifices, and you didn't get a say in what happened."
"Did you ever see your father receive orders from a superior?"
"Not really…once or twice."
"And did he appear frustrated?"
"I don't remember."
"What about people giving him advice about something. How did he react to that?"
"Depends on what it was."
"Can you give me an example?"
"Like…he was working on his car one day and this neighbor of ours tried to tell him something. I don't remember the finer details, because I was like four at the time. I just remember him yelling that if he could fix an airplane, he could fix a car. He spent the next few days ranting about what an idiot that guy was."
"Could your dad fix a car?"
"I'm sure he could. But I usually stayed the hell away from him if I saw the hood popped open."
"What about something about which he had absolutely no expertise?"
"He didn't like being corrected. Even if it was something he didn't know anything about."
"He was smart. But he wasn't…educated. He'd say things…that were historically or scientifically inaccurate and he didn't like being corrected."
"I take it you discovered that by attempting to correct him. How did you come across such a wealth of knowledge so early in life?"
"I read a lot of books."
"And which do you think your father placed more value on, education or experience?"
"What about the man at the police station…the sergeant. You said he corrected your father."
"Not really corrected…more like made a suggestion."
"But you said he reacted adversely."
"Well I think he was kind of already pissed off."
"Perhaps that was why the suggestion was being made."
"And the conversation they had while you were waiting in the lobby…if you had to speculate, what do you think they were talking about?"
"I don't know."
"He was probably reminding my dad that if he murdered me, he wouldn't be able to claim me as a dependent on his income tax return."