Rudyard Kipling

Today is Father’s Day. This is the first Father’s Day since my father passed away in September.

Tomorrow is also my father’s birthday.

I’m hoping he’s celebrating Father’s Day and his birthday up in heaven. In fact, this is what I imagine is happening up there:

My father is in a Jewish deli in heaven, having a corned beef sandwich and Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray soda. He is at a table talking with four of his new friends — Cary Grant, Victor Mclaglen, Douglas Fairbanks Jr, and Sam Jaffe — the cast of his favorite movie, Gunga Din (1939). My father loves hearing the inside stories about the film’s production.

“Arthur, my dear friend,” says Cary Grant., dressed in the same casual white suit he would have worn to the Cocoanut Grove nightclub in 1940. “Did you know that Howard Hawks was the original director until he worked with me on “Bringing Up Baby.” It was such a box-office disaster, that RKO brought in poor Georgie Stevens!”

“RKO back then was run by a bunch of pussies!” insists Douglas Fairbanks Jr.

“F**k ’em all!” screams the drunk Victor Mclaglen.

“Hey, Vic, didn’t you say the same thing when we brought back those hot-to-trot “Wizard of Oz” Munchkins to our hotel that night?” jokes Sam Jaffe, the former Yiddish child actor who played Gunga Din, and was later blacklisted. “We certainly f**ked them all!”

Victor Mclaglen lets out a hearty laugh, and offers my father a beer — but my father is not much of a drinker. My father sticks with his Cel-Ray soda.

Douglas Fairbanks looks in the Arts section of the Heaven Times.

“Hey, Arthur, look at this. Citizen of the Month happens to be the new #1 blog in Heaven, having just knocked “Dooce” down to #2.”

“That’s my boy,” says my father.

“When’s he going to do another talking penis post?” asks Cary Grant. “Those are hilarious.”

“Do you think he and Sophia will ever get back together?” asks Sam Jaffe, using his Gunga Din voice for effect.

My father sighs.

“I remember telling him that he should marry an easy-going woman like Elaine, but did he listen?”

“Children never listen. I know mine never did,” adds Douglas Fairbanks.

“But I love that Sophia,” my father adds.  “She always takes care of my boy.”

Yes, this is what I imagine.

My father having a great time — celebrating with his new friends. But as a big movie fan, my father knows that every story needs a good villain… and some action…

So, into the deli walks the villain —

— British poet Rudyard Kipling, the original writer of Gunga Din. Everyone in Heaven hates Rudyard Kipling. He is the town grouch.

He ambles over to my father’s table and laughs at the sight of the actors.

“So, if it isn’t the four stooges of Hollywood, still talking about that inane Hollywood misinterpretation of my masterpiece.”

“Mr. Kipling, I’d appreciate it if you’d just leave us alone,” says Cary Grant. “We don’t need any of your negativity.”

“What is the matter with you bloody degenerates?” asks Kipling. “Don’t you realize we are all DEAD? Who care about we did on Earth? It was all one big waste of our energy.”

“Rudyard, you’re a real shmuck,” says Sam Jaffe. “You used to be such an inspirational writer. Now all you do is kvetch.”

“Shut up Sam.” seethes Kipling. “Or isn’t your real name Shalom? How in the world did they pick a Yid like you to play the 19th Century Indian Gunga Din?”

“Mr. Kipling, I’m a big fan of your work, but could you please watch your language,” says my father, a bit meekly.

“And who are you?!”

“My name is Arthur Kramer.”

“And why should I care about the opinion of you?”

Cary Grant taps Kipling’s shoulder.

“Arthur’s son, Neil, writes the blog “Citizen of the Month.”

“Am I supposed to be impressed? I’ve read that nonsense.” says Kipling. “The talking penis guy.”

Victor Mclaglen stands, angry at Kipling.

“Rudyard, don’t be a jerk.”

“I’m very proud of him.” says my father.

“Proud of him for what?” asks Kipling. “He’s a talentless piece of shit. The Jungle Book, Kim — what I wrote is pure genius. Your son is a lowly blogger who doesn’t deserve to kiss my shoes.”

“Oh, yeah?” says my father, furious. “Maybe you can kiss my shoes, Mr. Kipling, when you’re lying flat on the floor!”

My father gives Rudyard Kipling a wallop that sends him flying into a passing waiter carrying a tray of food. A bowl of matzoh ball soup falls on Kipling’s head and he is OUT COLD.

The entire deli stands up and cheers for my father. Not only did Rudyard Kipling get what he deserved, but my father showed everyone how much he loves his son.

Of course in real life, my father would never do that. I don’t think he ever hit anyone in his life. But he always loves his son. And I love him.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

Happy Birthday, Dad!