I never met Robin Williams, but our lives intersected on occasion. For a while we both had the same hair stylist in San Anselmo, California and we had our haircut on the same schedule. I would be in the chair having my hair cut and I would see him walk in and sit down behind me. The last time I saw him at the salon I remember noticing how fit he looked. He had on jeans and a tee shirt and he looked the way I wanted to look in jeans and a tee shirt, but I had a few thousand more sit ups to go before I reached that goal.
I also saw him from time to time riding his bicycle in that same neighborhood. I would also see him and his wife on occasion at one of my favorite restaurants in Mill Valley, De Angelo’s.
Like everyone else in the world, the quality of my life had been immeasurably enhanced by his presence on this planet. I remember seeing him early on in his career as a stand-up comic in San Francisco. I never missed Mork and Mindy. I guess I saw all of his films. I saw him on a number of talk shows and comedy specials and and was always astounded at how uniquely hilarious he was.
Because he was one of my favorite entertainers in the world and I had been uplifted so many times by his comic genius, I demonstrated my appreciation for the joy he brought into my life by never saying a word to him or asking to have my picture taken with him or bothering him in any way. Not everyone shared my philosophy.
The last time I saw him and his wife they were walking into De Angelo’s in Mill Valley. I was sitting at a table by the front window and I could see them posing for pictures with some people who had noticed him. He was very kind and polite and stopped to pose for the photos with some of his adoring fans like he had so graciously done thousands of times before.
As he and his wife walked right in front of me I saw he looked a bit tense. I thought he was just hoping to have a quiet dinner with his wife without being bothered by anyone. Happily no one else approached him that evening and he and his wife were able to have a nice quiet dinner alone. I would imagine that was an extremely rare occasion for Robin Williams. He was instantly recognizable to millions of people around the world. Because of that he did not have the freedom to come and go as he pleased without being approached by people who no doubt loved him, but did not realize they were not necessarily enhancing the quality of his life.
I think it must have been very difficult to be Robin Williams. The kind of fame he enjoyed must have been difficult to handle at times. His notoriety must have had a significant downside. I would imagine it would make life difficult to not be able to move through life without being stopped by fans and feeling the obligation to be nice and accommodating to them.
I think Robin Williams was incredibly courageous to deal with the addictions he was cursed with and still entertain us for so many years with the incredible talent he was blessed with. I am deeply saddened by his passing, but like millions of people around the planet, when I think of Robin Williams I will always smile.