Tuesday, August 11, 2015

We're Going To Fight Fire With Marshmallows

This is all off the top of my head, so bare with me please. I have no idea where this is going.

At best memory pushing my mind to my earliest thought of Robin Williams, my first exposure to him was Happy Days where he played an alien in Fonzie's bad dream. Yes, it was a dream so anything could happen (an alien - why not?), but Robin shone so bright, I found myself following him through every scene. It felt like he wasn't following a script, he was just playing pretend like my brother and I used to do (and still do) when we were kids sharing a bedroom. I never thought about what people might think or who would understand. My brother and I just played make-believe letting our imaginations fly.

Like Robin seemed to do.

I loved his vibe, his free-spirit. Sure, I was a kid then - maybe 2 years old - but he left an impression on me (and still does). From that point on, there were TV shows and movie and stand-up routines as well as Comic Relief, but overall, he became a person that always made me smile and brought me joy that I never knew I was lacking or just building on the joy that was already there.

I followed him as much as I could - being a child, my fandom could only physically travel so far - from small screen to big, and I loved him in everything - from the hilarious, laugh 'til your body aches and piss yourself funny to the holy crap, dramatic and dark, cry your eyes out dramatic. It was early on that I found comedic entertainers were simply amazing in a drama, but there were times in m life when I would watch something just knowing Robin would be in it, and not realizing the man I saw was him - not because he wasn't being "funny" but because it was a side of him that I had never seen before.

First role that comes to mind would be when he was on the series Homicide: Life on the Street playing a man held up at gunpoint and lost his wife. Or Dead Again when he played a shrink that lost his license for sleeping with his patients. Other not-so-humorous roles were Being Human, Jakob the Liar, Bicentennial Man, House of D, August Rush, World's Greatest Dad... and who can forget One Hour Photo.

My favorite stand-out roles of his will always be Good Will Hunting, The Fisher King, Good Morning Vietnam, Dead Poet's Society, and of course at the top of the list Aladdin. (Only to name
a few.)

I'm finding it difficult to think/write since I have no idea what this all is. For the past few days, I saw the trending link on the right side of my Facebook page staring the anniversary of Robin's death was coming up, and even though I am a huge fan, I pushed it to the side and ignored it.

I wasn't ready. It's been a year, and I'm still as damaged now as I was when I heard the news last year. I was at my friends' Kevan & Greg's place in Sacramento celebrating Kevan's birthday. I stayed an extra day, and while we were about to watch some shows, Kevan's friend texts him to say Robin was gone. I refused to believe it. I immediately thought of all the hoaxes and false reports I'd heard over the years, and to hear that someone possibly passed away via text? I was holding out for actual announcements, confirmations.

And sure enough they came,

The mood was quite low after that.

As time went on, and the year progressed, I couldn't blink, turn my head, take a breath without people talking about, seeing news clips online, people coming up to me "Did you hear?" knowing he was a favorite of mine. I managed to watch a few interviews here and there, but the collective clips that
people put together - like Ellen Degeneres and Jimmy Fallon - killed me. I was balling like a baby, my eyes filled with tears, squinted shut unable to watch anymore. A lump that was quite possibly my heart jumped into my throat and stayed there making it difficult to breath. I was so overcome with emotion that I had no control over my limbs, my mind, anything.

After some months had passed, I started to cope. A man that I loved from afar, having never personally met or friended, was gone. Admittedly it cut me deep, but like with many other fans, I tried to mend.

Then there were the articles about legalities with his wife and children, what was wrong with him, etc, and it all just pissed me off. That's not entertainment news. A man has died. Let his family deal with their issues. Let the autopsy go. Just respect that a lovely man is now gone from this world, and leave the conspiracy theories, nay-saying, and douchebaggery out of it.

I mean, the fact that Zelda Williams left media from being spammed with hate and disrespect? You have no idea how much I wanted to punch the world - aka the people being assholes - in the face.

It wasn't until tonight that I clicked the Facebook link that had been trending about Robin. It came up five wonderful Williams performances - the first of which is the famous park bench scene from Good Will Hunting after Will (Matt Damon) tries to rile up Sean (Williams) by analyzing a painting on his window and making some comment about his wife. (I loved that part, Sean takes his glasses off, whistles a warning, grabs Will by the throat and says, "You disrespect my wife again, and I will end you.") Sean's had some time to think, they meet at the bench the next day, and in an extremely awesome way verbally rips Will a new one ending with "Your move, Chief."

So good!

And I lost it. Barely through the first few sentences, and I'm bawling. Partly because I know the scene, partly because it's done so well, and partly because his voice alone reminds me he's gone.

The next one was The Fisher King where Jack and Perry are in the park, and Perry tells him the story of The Fisher King. I was reciting the lines right along with him. Well, mouthing them really since my throat was cried shut leaving me with nothing but panto.

I watched one of the videos in YouTube instead of the article. When it ended, another video was suggested. It said "A Robin Williams Tribute Montage from YouTube". Yup more tears.

The interview with Bobcat Goldthwait at the end of the "five performances" article was nice, too. Really sweet.

In my mind, I always thought he and I would be friends. I'd imagine us being... "us" together, riffing
off each other, being gross and funny and cracking up everyone around him. But where he can be ON, I think in reality, I would be too intimidated to go toe-to-toe with the Cassius Clay of comedy.

I only got to physically see Robin twice.

Once was during and after a show at "The Filmore" in San Francisco, CA when Whoopi Goldberg (another favorite of mine) was touring some years back. I think I was still working at the bookstore, and my friend/co-worker Sara went with me. I remember sitting in the center of the floor-seats at a table. We had our cocktails and decided to order some appetizers to snack on during the show. Being a people watcher - you know all y'all do it - I checked out the crowd as people got situated before the show started. I remember looking up to the left and seeing a small profile of someone that I thought I recognized and thought, "That can't be Robin." But we were in his city. I remember hearing him in interviews say he likes living in SF since he blends in.

There was a lady near me who had binoculars - doing a little more people watching than me - and I had asked to borrow her specs for a sec. She told me no, and I left it at that. Sometime later, she tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I still wanted to use them. I took them from her thankfully and looked up at all the balcony seats. When I turned to where I thought Robin (and another figure that looked like his wife Marcia at the time) were sitting, the Robin figure turned and seemingly looked in my direction. I brought the specs down and looked away. A few minutes later, I gave them back to the woman, thanking her again for letting me use them, and Sara and I watched the show.

At the end of the show, we realized we never got our food so Sara said she'd get the refund while I waited outside. They were handing out first-come-first-serve posters on the way out, and Sara knew I wanted one. I grabbed one then stood near the curb away from the mass exodus stampede from the theatre. That's when I noticed the giant black town car and the giant black man in a suit with a security earpiece. We smiled at each other, and I turned back to the door wondering what was taking Sara so long - all the while thinking, "This is Robin's car! Holy frak!"

My view on celebrity is this: they are just like the rest of us... just with better, higher-paying (and higher profile) jobs. I could never understand in videos when people cried when they saw The Beatles or Michael Jackson in concert. Yes, I loved their music, but they're just people - awesome, talented people, but still people.

Calm down.

Also having gone to various book events and conventions, I always felt like I was annoying celebrities if I asked for a picture or an autograph or drawing so most of the time I just stood nearby and appreciated just being near them. Yes, I have some signed books and some pics and sketches, but they were quite nervously acquired.

Shifting my weight from foot to foot still waiting for Sara, I saw a woman get stopped on her way out of the theatre - "Don't forget your poster, ma'am!" - and being the fan I am, I watched as the woman turned around to thank the other woman for the poster, and I thought "Holy crap! That's Marcia!" and before I knew what was happening, there was Robin walking outside right after his wife. Immediately happiness filled my body. (Yeah, just seeing him - especially in the flesh - cheered me to no end.) He walked past me, opened the door for his wife. He talked with the black guard near me. There was another tall man with him that could have been his eldest son, but I didn't want to stare. I just stood there, basking in the awesome.

Then Sara came out.

"Girrrrrrrl!" she hollered at me, arm stretched out in that lemmetellyouwhathappened way. Apparently on the way up the stairwell to the office to retrieve our refund, she passed Robin on his way down. I can't remember if she grabbed his arm (though I wouldn't put it past her), but she did that whole, "OMG! DO YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE?" at him. I believe he took it in stride. All the while I kept saying "Sara" out of the corner of my mouth while pointing to my right with my eyes (trying to be subtle, ya know) In my periphery view, I was also checking if Robin had heard or not (because I care if we were annoying him), and eventually she said, "WHAT?!" I made solid eye contact with her before jerking my head slightly to my right. She turned her head, saw Robin (who was getting everyone situated in the car) and screamed "FUCK!"

Classy. I know.

The second time was when I saw him perform LIVE at Bimbo's in SF. I was in Moss Beach at my friend Miles' birthday party. A group of us were sleeping in the living room when I woke up (thanks alarm) at the ass-crack of dawn to drive in the middle of the dark from Moss Beach to SF to wait in lines for the box office to open to get tickets for the show. I had heard on the radio that he was testing out new material in local clubs first before going on tour, and the tickets were first-come-first-serve. My immediate thought was "I'm SO frakking there!" My friend Chris went with me to the show. I remember sitting to the right of the stage and both me and Chris nearly pissing ourselves we were laughing so hard.

I remember one guy screaming out "MORK!" to which Robin replied with "Nanoo nanoo, fuck you!" or something like that.

Many years later when I was still doing renaissance faires, one of my friends' family lived nearby so we went to the house and hung out, had BBQ, drinks, chatted... one of my friends (I believe it was RJ) pointed out to me that there was a picture Emi (Miles' sister - it was his family's house we were at) with Robin on the wall in the living room. I went to check it out and sure enough, there they were. From the outfit alone, I thought he was dressed like Jack from the movie of the same name. I asked Emi about it, and sure enough, she was an extra in the film.

So jealous.

I kind of identified with Robin in a lot of ways.

From an entertainer standpoint, I've always liked making people happy. Whenever I'd see a frown or
a pout, even if I didn't know the person, I'd try to make them laugh, and if I managed to even get a smile from them, I chalked that up as a point for the HAPPY team. I don't like seeing sadness, ever. I know it exists, and I do my part to help out, but the least I can do is make someone smile. That's within everyone's power - to make someone else smile. I try to spread happy whenever I can.

As I grew older and more comfortable with myself - there was a point where I really gave a shit what people thought of me... but then I got over it (for the most part) - I did or said whatever came to mind. If someone was truly offended, I apologized since that's never my intention, but overall, I didn't care how silly I looked. In all honesty, it never comes to mind. I just register that the person smiled or laughed or just didn't look sad anymore.

I'm not truly aware of my humor. I consider myself a boring person. The humor just comes out like tourette's. I don't make the conscious effort to do it - it just happens.

I've had people ask me about it, and I don't really know what to say. I'm an entertainment nerd and have a lot of pop culture as well as literary, music and theatre knowledge up in my ol' noggin which comes out in my jokes or comments, etc. But people have asked me "Remember when you said-?" or "What was that thing-?" - and I honestly can't remember. I have vague recollections but most of the time, it's just a state of being, like a stream of consciousness for that moment in life.

And I can also be a little on the filthy side. Again... it just comes out.

Once in an interview, I heard Robin say the same thing. When he's performing, he's on, but when he's off, and people ask "Do you remember when you said-?" and he honestly says "no".

What's also odd (in a nice way) is that I pretty much came to the realization that I'm a healthy schizophrenic. What I mean by that is I talk to myself, like we all do from time to time whether under our breath our out loud for the world to hear. But I thought about it, and essentially we all have these facets of ourselves, these parts that become more prominent depending on the situation.

For example...

When a friend is sick or hurt, I immediately go into "Mother" mode and want to take care of them. "What do you need? Meds? A pillow? Can I make you a cup of tea?"

When someone verbally attacks me, the logical part of me will come to the forefront and try to reason with the person.

When someone attacks those I love (or me, physically), the bitch in me comes out and is ready to rumble.

And so on and so on.

So whereas I have my "healthy schizophrenic" take on things, Robin had "legalized insanity." He spoke of it when he was on Inside the Actor's Studio. (Mike Myers refers to his version as "Silly" and Oliver Sacks has referred to is at "voluntary tourette's.")

My philosophy in life in its basic form is to be a good person. If you look at my Facebook profile under religion and politics, I put I just want to be a good person. Whenever anyone questions it, I ask them if they don't believe in being a good person. That usually gets them to quiet down some. Very rarely does anyone say "Frak that! I want to be an asshole!"

It's taken me a long time to babble all this out, and I'm not even sure it makes any sense. How can I feel like this about someone I've never really met? I think it's because his soul shines through so even though I never knew him, you could tell he wasn't putting on an act. He was really like that. Sure he had his demons, but he tried working through them. You yourself are constantly a work in progress. No one's perfect regardless of fame or money.

He has a few films still left to be released. After he passed, the movie Night at the Museum 3: Secret of the Tomb came out. I think there was also The Angriest Man In Brooklyn. All that's left is A Merry Friggin' Christmas, Absolutely Anything, and Boulevard. (Really can't wait to see Boulevard.)

Still I miss him terribly and wish he was still around, but I know he's at peace and at a much better place. I think of his wonderful guest appearance on the series Inside the Actor's Studio at the end when asked "If heaven exist, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?"

His answer(s)?

"There's seating at the front."

"The concert begins at five. It'll be Mozart, Elvis and one of your choosing."

His final answer.

"If heaven exist, to know there's laughter, that would be a great thing." (pause) "Just to hear God go Two Jews walk into a bar..."

Okay, I'll stop now before I start crying again. As it is, my sinuses and eyeballs are dry from sobbing through the videos I've seen already. Sheesh.

Later my lovelies. (Love & miss you, Robin.) xoxoxo

Have Goodness!

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