Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Indiana Jones and the crusade for paternal approval

Harrison Ford is my favorite actor of all times. He also reminds me of my father in a round-about way. And it is only partially a coincidence that I'm publishing this post on Harrison's 69th birthday.

Harrison creates characters of immense appeal - Han Solo? No brainer. Jack Ryan? Right up there (Alec who?). The list goes on and on. But they all pale in comparison to Indiana Jones. Rugged, handsome, adventurous, charming, and often clueless, Indy is a man that women love and men admire. It doesn't get any better than that!

My father took me to see Raiders of the Lost Ark several times in the theatre. Now, thirty years after that movie's release, I've seen Raiders more times than I can count. Probably more times than I've seen The Matrix, the 2009 version of Star Trek, and Twilight combined (and if you know me at all, you know that's a LOT!). When I see Raiders on TV, I usually call or text Dad to let him know it's on, and he often does the same. It's just one of our "things."

I was one of those "good" kids growing up - I never got in trouble at school or at home, and rarely caused my parents vexation of any kind. I recognized a long time ago that although I am self-motivated, my "good" behavior was due in large part to a desire to meet my father's approval. No, that's not accurate - it was due in a large part to a desire to avoid my father's disapproval. He had this look - you probably know what I'm talking about - that conveyed disappointment, disapproval or even anger without having to speak a word. As a child, I made every possible effort to conduct myself in a way that avoided that look. Actually, I think I still do! But it's not out of fear - I've never feared my father. It's more about an awareness of his expectations, and knowing that if I meet those expectations, I will succeed at anything I try, whether it is parenting my children, running my law practice, or writing my novels.

When I first published Relentless Hartt, I was hit with an onslaught of inquiries about my relationship with my father. Lexi Hartt has what I would call a complicated relationship with her father, competitive and sometimes tense. For some reason, many of my readers projected that relationship onto me and my own father. I assured them then, just as I assure everyone now, I am not Lexi Hartt, and Dad is not James A. Hartt, Jr.

He's much more like Indiana Jones! :)

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Happy birthday, Harrison!