Robin Williams was my first love. I never met the man, nor saw him perform live, but he is the first person I ever had a proper crush on. I always used to describe how I stood out from other kids in my class because while their walls were adorned with posters of Bros and A-Ha, I had Robin Williams. Not a poster, because you don’t really get pin-ups of comedians even today, so I’d cut a picture or an article out of a magazine and blu-tack it up there.
You never forget your first love. He set the template for all that followed and, looking back, I had damn good taste in men to choose him as the ideal. Over the last traumatic week we’ve heard tale after tale of how kind, generous, sweet and giving Robin Williams was. I sensed it all from just those interviews where I first saw him.
That open-mouthed giggle that would erupt from the back of his throat when he found something genuinely funny. The way when talking about himself seriously his voice became so soft and quiet, his sparkling blue eyes darting around the room to anywhere except the interviewer’s gaze. With the characters and manic voices, he’d look you in the eyes then. His response of ‘Yessir’ or ‘Yes Ma’am’ to questions. And hell, to this day I find hairy forearms sexy.
For decades, even recently, I had this recurring thought I’d love to win a lunch with Robin Williams as part of some competition. He’d come in, start doing his usual manic shtick until I assured him he didn’t need to. I wanted to talk to him, not get a performance. That’s why I gave this blog that title, because for all the great movies he made, I was always happier seeing Robin as himself. I wore down video tapes of his stand-up and interviews, but not so much the films. To this day I’ll always prefer a rehearsal to a finished performance, out-takes to the perfectly-edited scene.
When I heard in a recent round of interviews he was chugging Red Bull, I got worried. He was forcing it out of himself. It must’ve been exhausting to keep that level of intensity up around interviewers and complete strangers, but he clearly thought that was what people expected of him and he seemed to have a terror of letting people down.
I also suffer from depression, so I know it can make you feel horrifically guilty for just about anything, even the most irrational situations. Hearing he had died, not by illness or even accidentally blowing himself up, but by suicide, was like a stab to my heart. I keep feeling guilty, like I or anyone could’ve done something, could’ve made him feel less… lost.
I have the desperate urge to hug people who need it, even if they don’t want my hugs. I sent a tweet cuddling Jim Carrey, who always reminded me of Robin Williams a great deal. They had that same desperate desire to please, fear of letting people down and let through only glimpses of that oh so vulnerable person inside behind the mania. Now I’m more worried for him than ever.
Robin Williams was my first love. Funny, sweet, kind, thoroughly mischievous, but above all a genuinely good man. Yeah, 12-year-old me was right, that’s the definition of an ideal man.