Clark Rockefeller's Strange Journey
It's never really occurred to me to claim a new identity, forge a new me. Even when the moment occurred when I could have gotten me a new last name free and easy, I chose to stick with the last name that brung me.
Not that I haven't had an escape fantasy or two. But they're pretty pedestrian, and tend to involve moving to someplace like Pittsburgh or Omaha; getting a nice little no hassle office job that involves answering the phone and photo-copying; finding a cozy apartment - sort of like Rhoda's on the old Mary Tyler Moore Show; and taking out a library card. Mostly I sit around wrapped in an afghan, sipping tea. It's always winter.
But mostly, like Popeye, like most of us: I am what I am. And that means I am who I am.
Unlike the latest "great imposter:" Clark Rockefeller/Christopher Chichester/Christopher Crowe/Christian Karl Gerharstreiter.
For those who haven't been consumed by this story - and that will pretty much leave out everybody who lives anywhere near Boston - Clark Rockefeller, just a few short weeks ago, was the eccentric scientist millionaire dad who kidnapped his daughter Snooks while on a supervised custody visit.
Fortunately, the child was found unharmed, but the story has gone well beyond even the most extreme parental battle over the kids.
Clark Rockefeller, it seems, is trailing a string of aliases behind him, and the bio details include a childhood in Germany; life as an exchange student in Connecticut; a green card marriage to someone who felt bad for him; tenant of a young California couple that mysteriously disappeared over 20 years ago (and whose truck CR tried to sell post-disappearance); and a brief stint on Wall Street as a bond trader.
Then he moved to Boston and, as Clark Rockefeller, hopped on the gravy train: marriage to a high IQ, highly successful business woman who had a child with him, and set him up - almost right next door to where I live - as Mr. Mom while she pursued her high powered management consulting career.
Somewhere along the line, Sandra Boss smartened up - hey, she is a graduate of the Harvard Business School - and divorced him, giving him $1M walking away money.
Well, other than the years he was a house-husband - and the stunted bond trading career, where, it is said, he made few if any sales - one of the things that has most struck me about this entire saga is how this guy managed to go for so long without having a job.
Does being a fake Rockefeller pay anything?
I would think that by now that, given all the publicity, some woman/women or old geezers would have come out of the woodwork to say that they, too, had been conned into supporting this guy, but it hasn't happened yet.
So, just what did he do to pay his rent, keep himself in preppy clothing, and eat?
My escape fantasies all have to include a crummy job.
What was his secret?
Maybe he was one of those con men you run into on the street who give you some tale of woe and ask for $10.
I will admit that I have on occasion given them the $10, knowing I was being conned on one level, but at least entertained by the story. (I always drew the line when someone tried the same con on me twice within a couple of day period, however.) But cadging $10 at a time seems like mighty hard work, which doesn't seem to be part of Clark Rockefeller's M.O.
I had an uncle who was something of a ne'er do well. Without getting into the full story of Uncle Charlie's career - which included, among other unsavory details, some affiliation with Father Coughlin, the anti-Semitic radio priest of the late 1930's, Charlie had stints in his life when he didn't work. Or didn't work much. Or didn't work hard.
But the price he paid was that he had to live with my grandmother and bum money off her. Or bum money off of my father and my aunt. Or off of his long-suffering, long-standing girlfriend Sue (whom he couldn't marry because, inconveniently, he had a wife he'd been briefly married to). Or off of other relatives. And relatives of relatives. And friends of his. And friends of relatives. And relatives of friends.
(My personal, unauthorized contribution to Charlie's wallet: my father "lent" him the money my parents had earmarked to buy my baby pictures. So, my extremely cute baby pictures, alas, all had the word PROOF stamped over my face in dark purple ink.)
I used to wonder when I was a kid why everyone in the City of Worcester knew my Uncle Charlie.
Mostly it was because he had borrowed a ten-spot from them at some point. (Often to pay for a mythical operation for my grandmother.)
I eagerly await more details on the strange journey Clark Rockefeller/Christian Gerharstreiter.
And what I most want to know is how this bum managed to get around for all those years without working.