Stallone and Schwarzenegger: My Two Dads

This essays discusses my two *honourary* fathers. My biological father, Mr. Antonov, is very much my actual dad.

To say that I was raised on action movies would be a gross understatement. As a child, action movies were oxygen, sustaining this little life-form in a hostile and airless universe. They usually ended well, and reduced death and violence to a kind of big-budget vaudeville. They also parented me.

Rambo taught me that life is essentially one long trip through the bowels of Satan, with no guarantees as to where you will ultimately emerge. We were related to each other through the comradeship of PTSD and head accessories. The fact that he was kinda in the habit of slaughtering entire platoons of Soviets didn’t really stop me from regarding him as a father figure. I granted him artistic license and he granted me the opportunity to not be alone on my journey through the bowels of Satan. We were in it together, outsiders and outlaws until the bitter end.

I didn’t get the chance to watch the first Terminator until I was a big girl, sparing myself the angst of Michael Biehn and moving on straight to the good stuff. No matter how many other movies they make, T2 will remain an institution, an epic crafted from molten metal, blood, and sweat. It features the world’s most inspired robot and the world’s most kick-ass mom. I’ve always thought that the Terminator’s character in this one had a touch of Asimov about it; while the robot was still a finely calibrated murder machine, he could also learn important lessons about life. He found out why we cry, dammit. He found out why we cry.

As for the Terminator’s parenting potential, just check out this quote from Sarah Connor: “Watching John with the machine, it was suddenly so clear. The terminator wouldn’t stop, it would never leave him. It would never hurt him or shout at him or get drunk and hit him or say it was too busy to spend time with him. And it would die to protect him. Of all the would-be fathers that came over the years, this thing, this machine, was the only thing that measured up. In an insane world, it was the sanest choice.”

You simply do not contradict Sarah Connor.

The other great thing about having the Terminator as your honourary dad is that it can be a learning experience for both of you. He can learn the intricacies of slang, and you can learn how to shoot a minigun (the most misleadingly named weapon ever). It’s would be a beautiful symbiotic relationship, and getting Sarah Connor to be an honorary mom would be a plus to an already perfect arrangement.

And it would be especially useful for a literary minded person such as myself, because while saying “no problemo” is certainly feat, I’d have the Terminator quoting Yeats to traffic cops in no time: “The host is rushing ‘twixt night and day, And where is there hope or deed as fair?”

When I was growing up, the idea of being hunted down and killed was never far from my mind. When we first moved into our quiet subdivision in North Carolina, having immigrated from Ukraine, I wailed like a cornered Tasmanian Devil upon discovering that the windows inside our house were NOT BULLETPROOF. One can say that there were some psychological reasons as to why I wanted two action heroes to be my honorary dads. After all, blue-eyed female children with funny accents rarely died in their movies.

Knowing why you like something doesn’t tend to stop you from liking it, but it does create a more meaningful bond between you and the subject at hand. Gentlemen, I love you and salute you because you are a part of psychological make-up and my soul. Doesn’t that just sound even cooler? Of course it does.

Honourary dad is pretty much the highest recognition that I can bestow upon a man, even higher than a place in my harem. It is nevertheless a humble offering, and I don’t expect any thank-you cards. An insane helicopter ride through a jungle, on the other hand….

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