By Stanley Dyrector
I’m somebody who finds it difficult to get on a bandwagon. Monday August 11th – was a very stressful day for me. Earlier, I had an important meeting with an important person who shall remain nameless. The meeting was not so good, because what I had expected to happen did not happen.
As I was driving home from Santa Monica that afternoon, I was befuddled by the illogic of the meeting’s outcome, but my antennae heard something about Robin Williams. It was only when I got home to mope that I learned that Robin Williams had died. Sixty-two years old, the media said. Yes, it was big news!
He was a young man - age being relative, since I’m an older man. I’m older now than he was by over a decade.
When I had met Robin Williams, he was an even younger man, just as I was a younger man. I was married and an actor/writer, but nobody was breaking down my door to give me jobs in a business I loved and had fantasized about being a part of since childhood, when I’d attended the Loew’s Pitkin in Brownsville Brooklyn New York City, wearing brown corduroy knickers. I was as unknown then as I am now.
What all my own jabberwocky leads up to is back in the day – the ‘80s and early ‘90s – I was driving a limousine and I was given an order by my dispatcher to go to a bowling alley on Pico Boulevard, near the ocean in Santa Monica, to pick up Robin Williams. Robin was already a big star, so what was he doing in a bowling alley? Why wasn’t he, in, say, a ritzy French restaurant, like L’Orange? The latter was the watering hole of choice for celebs and rich people. I once took Glenn Ford there, and another time, I saw Elton John hanging around.
I pulled into the bowling alley parking lot, locked my company limousine and went into the bowling alley, which was pretty busy. I spotted Robin with a couple of people, a guy and a gal, — although there may have been one or two others. Funny, as I think back to that night, there was a dryness to my meeting with him; nothing at all colorful or memorable to stick in my mind except the ordinariness of the situation. Did Robin’s eyes flash or sparkle? I do not recall. Mine, for some reason, did not either. Robin struck me as a quiet, gentle introverted person, instead of the outgoing clown he was always hyped to portray by publicity and performances. I introduced myself. He may have grinned a moment, obviously preoccupied by his company. But he was cordial in those few moments. Once I had a view of the landscape, bowling balls thundering down alleys like thunder, the aroma of beer curling up my nostrils from the peopled aisles, my anxieties calmed. I surmised, as Sherlock Holmes would, that perhaps Robin Williams had been bowling with his friends, or perhaps he stopped off at the bowling alley for a social visit, before I had arrived. I was probably puzzled and in the dark.
I returned to the limousine and waited for a short time. Then, when I saw Robin through the windshield exiting the bowling alley, I got out and tried to assist him, which is what my job was all about – customer-to-client service. I did play the role of Jeeves rather well, you know. I tried to help with the luggage, but he didn’t need any help with his attache case or small suitcase. I opened the passenger door and he hopped in. He asked me if it was okay to pay with an American Express card. I told him it was. And there he was in the back seat, filling out the things you had to, while I had the company’s portable AX gizmo. I noticed how careful and serious he was in doing something that I’d seen my customers do many many times before. No, there was nothing funny or memorable about it, my encounter with a younger Robin Williams…but then again, I was the driver, and this was the world we lived in…He coulda been anyone…even me.