Today I was going to blog about a tricycle I found in a trash heap. I sat down to the computer, and as I compulsively do, checked my usual websites before starting; Gmail followed by Facebook then The Daily Beast, Cracked, and YouTube. I’d made it as far as Facebook.
When I first read that Robin Williams was dead, several images flashed – car accident, heart attack, relapse and overdose – but suicide wasn’t one of them. I can’t imagine what must have been troubling the man so much as he seemed to have it all, really. Despite his aging features, he was a decent looking guy, he was rich, he was funny, he had a great looking wife and a fantastic home… But then the same could be said for so many other people, I guess. Mental illness doesn’t care how rich and successful you are.
I am still literally sick to my stomach.
I hadn’t thought about the guy probably in at least a year. Can’t remember the last time I saw one of his movies, although I love many of them. I know there’s an autograph from him in a cheesesteak restaurant on Divisadero Street. I know he used to live in the ritzy part of the city before moving to Marin. I know a few people who’ve met him and have said he was a very nice guy.
I encountered him at a fundraiser for Menlo Schools some years back, when I was dating a teacher there. We were all instructed not to approach “Mr. Williams”. We were also instructed not to approach some other movie star that was there, but honestly I can’t remember who that was, and I haven’t remembered in years, but Robin Williams stuck in my head.
Of course I broke the rule. I took a photo for one of my then-girlfriend’s coworkers. That was before cell phone cameras were a useful thing, and the photo was on a small point and shoot camera, I have no idea what became of it. I remember him seeming so “regular Joe” at the time. He didn’t even seem to be as polished and haughty as even many of the students’ non-famous parents.
In 1979, I was Mork for Halloween. I had the red suit with the triangle, the silver helmet and gloves, and was blessed genetically with similar hair. I’d made my dad’s second wife hand-fashion the costume (she also made my brother’s elephant suit). I was the spitting image of “Little Kid Mork”. I went to a costume show at the mall and everyone thought I was a motorcycle stuntman. Fucking idiots.
That same year, my dad bought “Reality, What a Concept” on vinyl. I begged him to let me borrow it so I could tape it, which I did. I listened to it over and over and over, really not understanding probably half of it as I was only twelve. I still laughed. The bit about the hamster in the microwave, the kid giving his mommy’s meds to the fish to “watch them swim sideways”, the old man in the future. It’s an excellent album. I’m probably going to listen again tonight.
I wish I’d made a bigger effort to break the rules that night at Menlo Schools. I wish I’d spoken to the guy.
I’m agnostic. Who knows where we go when we die? Well, maybe Robin Williams knows. If there is something beyond this life, I hope he’s in a better situation. I hope whatever troubled him is a nonissue now.
Photo is public domain as a work of the US Federal Government, US Air Force