I was privileged enough to speak with Robin Williams a few times.
I was a huge fan of the man when I was a child. I had the cassette tapes for his comedy performance “A Night At The Met,” and the “Good Morning Vietnam” soundtrack which featured the audio of a great deal of his performance in the movie. And I played those two tapes constantly, until I had them memorized. Every word, every breath, every pause of silence, every crazy voice… I have all these memories of me just walking around the school yard, my headphones on, his manic voice in my ears.
Then one day, as an adult, I was walking down the street, with a friend, when she suddenly turned to me and said, “I think Robin Williams just checked out my tits!” I spun around on the street, only to see what must’ve been him, walking away. I bantered with my friend for a block or so about the idea of talking to him, before I suddenly frozen, and then bolted back the way we’d come from. I ran until I was next to him, and then I just walked side-by-side with the man, until he turned and saw me. I blushed, and told him what a fan I was, and asked if there was any truth to the rumour that he wanted to be in a Transmetropolitan movie. He was very earnest, and kind to me.
We ran into each other a few times after that, always in the comic shop I worked in. He’d come in, sometimes dressed very sillily, often with sunglasses on, as though to hide the fact that he’d just gotten really stoned on our Vancouver weed.
He was also cool to me. He called me “boss”, like he respected me for some reason, and he was always happy to talk about art. He loved learning about new comics, new artists… anything that separated itself from the old, regular world, and started to transgress into the realms of the new and unusual.
I didn’t expect to be so heart-broken by his passage, but I am. I recognize now that he was one of my heroes… And more than that. He was an inspiration, and when I was just a lonely little boy in the woods, he was something of a father-surrogate. He was somebody I could look up to. Somebody who showed me how much potential there was for weirdness and merriment in this life. He made me feel like there were others in the world like myself. Jokers. Comedians. Dadaists.
I am terribly saddened by the great man’s passage out of this realm. His life was gift for all of us to enjoy.
You were a wonderful human being, Mister Williams.
And I miss you.