Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Kansas robber would rather go to prison than stay married

A 70-year-old Kansas City man who told police he robbed a bank because he thought he’d prefer prison to marriage will likely get his wish.

I guess Lawrence John Ripple, whose record is otherwise spotless, will refuse lenient house arrest.

It’s an interesting case.

Ripple angrily wrote the terse robbery note — “I have a gun, give me money” — right in front of his wife. He then drove to a bank that was on the same block as the city police HQ. He gave the teller the note, took $2,924 in cash and then sat down on a bench right there in the bank lobby.

When police arrived, he said, “I’m the guy you’re looking for.”

He told police he robbed the bank because he no longer wanted to be married.

I guess he hasn’t heard of Tinder.

If this were a Lifetime movie, his wife would commit a crime of her own, arrange to get in the same cell and these kids would work things out in federal custody, a rare case where the proverbial old ball and chain came with her very own proverbial ball and chain.

I come at this from a very interesting perspective.

In seven days it’ll be 20 years I’ve been married to the same wonderful woman. I’ve been very lucky and only wish I could give her the kind of security she deserves — and I mean maximum, just not in the penal sense.

But I also spent one night in jail with a really great cellmate.

It was wonderful. We laughed, told stories, shared ambitions of the places we’d get drunk together when we got out of stir.

It was like a honeymoon only instead of sex we had hangovers.

It was a night I’ll never forget (first link below).

But it was only one night.

Had we been held for another two or three days, one of us might have made the mistake of bringing up politics. He’s very conservative. I’m not.

I might have had to sleep with one eye open as he sharpened his jail-issue toothbrush into a deadly shiv.

As of next Tuesday, Val and I will have been married for 7,300 nights.

That’s a lot of opportunity to for matrimonial tumult. Besides all the laughter and loving, there’s also been criticism, arguments and words we both wish we’d never said.

A lot of people didn’t think it would last. Remember, she’s a church organist. And she’s an editor. I’m a writer. 

When I thank her for turning my comma into an exclamation point she corrects me.

Then, oh, boy, there was the time many years ago I showed up at church drunk. I danced down the aisle singing, “Just a Closer Walk With Thee.”

And I wasn’t wearing pants.

I think the only thing that saved our marriage was I showed up at the wrong church.

I made that story up. I tell it during my talks because it always gets a big laugh.

I have no idea how long Ripple and his wife were married or if she was so awful that prison is preferable. 

Two weeks ago he posted the above picture of her and the two seem very content. There’s another picture of the two of them standing with a strapping young U.S. Marine. 

Maybe he was having a bad day. Maybe he’s mentally ill.

I’m glad, too, he didn’t hurt her or anyone else in his desperation. Sadly, that’s a common reaction to disappointment — and we can all be thankful we live in a land where people who surrender to that mindset have to go through rigorous screening before being sold a lethal weapon.

But I hope the Ripples find some mutual peace. Really, the judge should consider sentencing him to some intensive marriage counseling. 

Some estimates say it costs about $129.44 a day to incarcerate a convict — and that doesn’t include the mints they put on the pillows.

I’m going to try and follow up on this story to see the resolution.

Ripple may find out prison’s no picnic.

I guess it all depends on who you get for a cellmate.

And having a loving soulmate reduces the chances of you ever needing one.

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