You’d be surprised how good crying feels sometimes.
We have this notion that men don’t cry and that they need to “man up” and bottle that shit, but that’s the thing that kills you in the end.
Being a man has nothing to do with crying or not crying. Being a man means being there for your family and friends when they call.
You can’t be a man if you’re not here.
It’s ok to be depressed. It’s ok to be sad. It’s ok to cry.
Just…stay here with us.
Suicides go up every time a celebrity commits. If you’re thinking of committing, or even self harming yourself, please give these sites a look and numbers a call. We’ll feel for you, how we feel for them.
I write this in full knowledge that in a week, a month or whatever, these words will be forgotten, added to a pile of memorials that others have written, by some more, and some less, eloquent than me. But in spite of that, my heart wishes to write, and write I must.
I would imagine that my first exposure to Robin Williams, the comedian/actor, would probably be Happy Days. I was an absolute nut for Happy Days as a kid. Happy Days was probably the center of my universe, as I used to be able to know the day of the week because I knew Happy Days was on Tuesday. I was a Fonzie devotee. Probably as much, or more, than most Italian kids my age. And because of my…predilection for comics and sci fi, I didn’t find it odd that Milwaukee was visited by an alien that said funny words. I laughed, as that was the intention.
Next, maybe, I saw him on Carson. Johnny Carson, for more than a generation of people, was an institution, but also…he was the indicator for whether or not you stayed up late on a school night. If you saw Carson, you were cool, a rebel. And I remember Johnny losing his mind over this frantic, non-sequitur spouting, hairy knuckled comedian. It could very well be that I’m mixing these first two incidents, but they happened so close to each other, that it’s really not much of a difference.
And then Mork appeared again on Happy Days and spun off into his own show. I loved that show. I had the suspenders. I bought Mork and Mindy trading cards. I vaguely remember having a Mork action figure (from Mego, I think).
And then Hook. There was a point there where he got corny, where he got serious (while I watched Good Morning Vietnam later, it comes before Hook) and I just wasn’t interested, but Hook appealed to me. At the time, I was just starting to reintroduce myself to my younger sister (she was 9 years younger than I am…still is…and lived in NY while I was in PA), and while it escapes me at the moment, something about that movie just made me think of my sister. Still does. Maybe it’s the power of imagination. Or the idea that youth is fleeting and we all eventually get a job and grow up. I don’t know. But for all the bad mouthing it gets, I love that movie.
The Fisher King nearly broke me. I remember watching it Freshman year of college, at Pitt, at Alan Sweatt’s apartment. And I remember being moved to tears. I remember years later, when listening to Groucho Marx sing “Lydia the Tattooed Lady,” thinking, “Wait, Robin Williams didn’t invent that song?”
Aladdin. Mrs. Doubtfire. The Birdcage. Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet (boy, seeing him in there shocked me), and Good Will Hunting.
It dawns on me now that I grew up with him.
The stories of the rampant cocaine use. The disheveled appearance. All of it irrelevant because as soon as you see him, right there on TV or in a film, with that Robin smile…
…what else is there?
And that’s the part that hurts. That smile hid so much, SO MUCH, that there was a man, who was suffering. His smile hid so much pain. And that’s the part that hurts. Because if we knew, and if we could, who would deny helping him? I mean, I grew up with him on the other side of a cathode ray tube. I was closer to my TV than I was to any classmate.
He was a Robin, so of course I wanted to be his friend. Just like Dick Grayson. Just like Burt Ward.
Last year, around the holidays, I gave my Kickstarter backers my phone number, telling them that if they needed someone to talk to during the holidays, which are typically difficult, I would be there for them. And I got a few calls, a few texts, and you know, I never really thought it through…what if EVERYONE called me? What was I going to do?
And I’ll still listen. Because at some point, someone listened to me.