Terribly Sad

World According to Garp, The - L 1605

No. Robin, no. Your great body of work will seem sadder now. That was my first thought.

My second thought was of handing you a “Ross Perot for President” coffee mug. “Ah” you said, “The first Ferengi to ever run for president.”

And I saw myself as a young man, lying on the floor listening to A Night at the Met—the final bits about your son, which ended so poignantly and perfectly. At the time I was estranged from my own father, and it made me laugh and cry over and over again.

Then I thought of you alone in that big house, sitting there in the stillness. Deciding. You’re not afraid are ya? Fuck it.

That’s what you said when you pranced around in ridiculous, hairy chest-bearing space suits, shepherding me through my childhood with fool’s wisdom—with the world around us so absurdly dark, you lifted our spirits with absurd light.

On Inside the Actor’s Studio, there was a woman who couldn’t stop laughing. This is “a gift” you said. You were the gift. More than a comedian. Or maybe just perfect, and other comedians something less.

How appropriate, to have you stir so many thoughts at once.

When I was in high school, I’d perform standup, drunk and stoned, and my friends would try to help me get laid by telling girls in the audience I was your son. Some of them believed it—but told me I wasn’t as funny. That was sobering.

I remember you crying when Christopher Reeve rolled onto the stage in his wheelchair at the Academy Awards. I imagine you’re together now. Roommates again. Putting on a show in the clouds. Secretly placing a whoopee cushion on God’s chair.

When you told Jon Stewart, “You’re doing the work that needs to be done” I felt better about what I was doing. But you were always doing the work that needed to be done—I remember standing backstage, watching you hold a bottle of water between your legs, spraying the audience like a cat. “Mine! Mine!” You marked us, and we were yours.

When I was a boy, a child of a single mother, I saw The World According to Garp, and I wept when you said, “I never needed a father.”

What does T.S stand for again? Oh yeah. Terribly Sad. Too Smart. Tremendously Shocking. Terrifically Sacrilegious. Torrentially Slaphappy. Torturously Sober. Truthfully Sentimental. Transformatively Sensational.

 

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