Robin Williams is such a mythic figure that I thought I would talk about yesterday, because I will come back across this in a few years and of course I want to know where I was and what I was doing when I heard the news. He is that iconic for me, and in a sense, became everyone’s favorite father figure in plenty of films, my favorite as Daniel/Mrs. Doubtfire.
That’s the kind of man Robin Williams was. You can’t pick “the best thing he did” because the things he did fall into so many different genres it would be comparing Chevrolets to roof repair. I can talk about the things he did for me personally, though.
I was coming out in the same years that movies like The Birdcage and Mrs. Doubtfire were made. Robin Williams normalized gay couples for me- in The Birdcage, he actually played a gay man with sexuality- clearly adoring his husband. In Mrs. Doubtfire, Uncle Frank and Aunt Jack just are. Robin Williams could help bring gay rights to life in a way that few other people could because he could do it apolitically. It is not surprising to have found him as an ally- he was a resident of San Francisco/Marin County most of his life. However, few people were as dedicated to showing equality as well as talking about it. In terms of gay rights, we couldn’t have asked for a better straight man (as it were).
So here it is, my August 11th, 2014
We were in shock at work. Dana, Lindsay, and Matt (wife, sister, brother-in-law, respectively) were in shock at home. After having written both M&M and Under My F#$%ing Skin, I was a giant rageball and trying not to let it out, which I compensated for by being snippy and rude. I’m amazing like that. Anyway, I am in Full Metal Jackass mode and then I find out that Robin Williams has died and he was only 63 years old.
I was, in a sense, waiting for it to happen. I was not shocked in the least. When you’ve had that long a history with drugs and alcohol, spend 20 years sober, and then take a drink, there are three possible things that will kill you. The first is shame. The second is the feeling that it would be better for all involved if you weren’t there to fuck everything up. The third is that in the final stages, you just want the pain to stop, and nothing is working, and you can’t ever see yourself recovering. “Every day is just going to be like this. I will never get any better.”
I don’t know this because I am an addict. I know this because alcoholism and addiction are just two situations that can make you feel so unworthy of love and life. I’ve been through other ones, but it’s the same Truth.
So there I sat, just staring off into space, thinking about how similar we’ve felt in the past, and how differently we both turned out.