A Friend Like You

The death of Robin Williams has made me very sad. I never knew him, but he had a profound impact on my childhood. I know millions of other folks feel the same way.

The news was shocking. Of course, none of us know why he’d take his own life. Mental illness is such a powerful force. I’ve seen it rip apart my own family in recent years. We’re repeatedly left asking the question “why?”. There is no answer.

Robin Williams has left an incredible legacy of laughter. However, I hope his greatest legacy will be the awareness his passing brings to mental health issues. There are millions of people out there who desperately need help. My brother is one of them.

Rather than do a disservice to mental health issues, which I know little about, I want to write about a few fun and silly ways Robin Williams impacted my life over the years:

1. I don’t care what the experts say, “Aladdin” is the best Disney movie of all time (“The Lizzie McGuire Movie” is a close second). The music in “Aladdin” is amazing, the story is great, Abu is my dude, and Jafar is an epic villain. However, that movie is legendary because of Robin Williams. His Genie character was fantastic. He also improvised most of it. Genius. I loved “Aladdin” so much, I would watch the cartoon show every single day after school in sixth grade. I was a hardcore middle schooler.

Friend Like You

2. “Hook.” It was my first favorite movie. It was also my first job. I loved that movie so much in second grade that I would sit in class and doodle pictures from the movie. Of course, I then put them in the front of my Trapper Keepers. Other kids saw them. Other kids wanted them. I wasn’t about go give my masterpieces away for free, so I charged a dollar for each drawing. I made $4. I was rich.

“Hook” has continued to play a significant role in my life, 20+ years later. A few weeks before the babies were born, we watched “Hook.” It was still such a great movie. However, I had a bit of an identity crisis. It seemed like only a few heartbeats ago that I was a little kid watching that movie and swindling classmates out of their money to buy my terrible drawings. As a little boy watching the movie, I identified with Peter’s kids and the Lost Boys. Now, all of a sudden, I had become the dad in the film. Much like Peter, I had grown up. However, just like Peter, and just like Robin, I’m still a kid at heart (and I’ll still draw you a picture from the movie for a $1).

Hook

3. All kids like to push their bedtime to the limit. Our kids hate sleeping. As soon as we put them down to bed, they start laughing and hollering to keep themselves awake and to try to convince us that we should let them stay up later and play with them instead. I remember once in elementary school I stayed up past my bedtime. No one said anything. So I stayed up longer. I ended up watching “The Tonight Show” by myself. That joint came on at like 11pm, so I was living on the edge. Robin Williams was a guest on the show. I probably didn’t understand all the jokes and references, but I laughed so hard. He told a story about throwing sandwiches from a hot air balloon. I thought it was the greatest thing ever.

4. I saw “Jumanji” in seventh grade. I was terrified. I had legitimate concerns that a herd of rhinos would come storming through my bedroom. I was in the seventh grade. That’s proof that Robin Williams was not just a hilarious comedian, but a phenomenal actor (and that I’m a wimp).

Thanks for the laughs, Robin. You will be missed.