On my first encounter with Robin Williams ..

(originally written 26 Janvier 2010)

See the coincidental part about it all is that I had just recently re-watched Hook; and I had just recently seen his face in the spectator seats as some friends were watching a basketball game on the tube; and I had just recently watched Conan O’Brien’s penultimate episode of The Tonight Show in which Robin Williams went boisterous with high-energy

So then, as I was dusting off action figures on my fourth day working at a comic book shop in San Francisco, Cards & Comics Central, inner Richmond District — I heard a very familiar, distinct voice (Right ? His voice was quite particular) ask if the store carried DMZ, a Vertigo Comics title

When I looked up, I gasped ! (in my head). I double glanced to make sure that underneath all that facial fuzz was Peter Pan and Mork from Mindy and Mrs. Doubtfire and that unstable person from One Hour Photo and all the other iconic characters we’d seen him play in front cameras. It was him ! With my cool collected, I replied and showed him the way, calmly

He was reserved, dressed-down, and un-commanding of his celebrity. His voice was low-volume and his tone was modest. In that moment, I found myself respecting that his Dr-Jekyll-Mr-High-Energy humbleness. I mean, he’s so .. rambunctious in front of a camera; and here was this timid man asking me if we carried a certain comic book. He bought a hundred dollars’ worth of DMZ

And so I just re-watched that Conan episode again right now on Hulu, and he mentioned that in a week he’s going to Australia to do some voice recordings for the Happy Feet sequel. Now I kind of wonder: was he picking up some reading material for the trip ? Ha

And it’s not like I’m in Hollywood: It’s San Francisco, the same city in which I practically grew up, a place not particularly defined for its famous faces. Sure, we know that he lives in the city; but one doesn’t expect to run into the actor. Surely I had never expected to run into thee guy, from one of my favorite kid movies

I would encounter him again a second time, a year later while still working at that same comic book shop, an instance just as bewitching as the first experience, albeit with more composure on my end. (I didn’t mess up his credit card transaction this time, haha)

And so I often wonder what it means to encounter a person in one instance — to never see that person again. Is it just for fun ? Is it pointless ? What do we learn from these one-shot encounters with strangers ? How do we benefit from a random convo with people at dive bars; or from one-minute dialog exchanges with people at the grocery store ? Do we gain a potential network, or simply a dead end ? Will it be advantageous to continue to know this person ? Should we get the person’s name/telephone/email ? Was it casual small talk or something more substantial ? Is the universe trying to nudge us in a particular direction, or not ?

On my train ride home tonight, I’ve been pondering what it meant to encounter Robin Williams. And one conclusion I’ve arrived at is the matter of identity, how we’re different people to different people. To most, Robin Williams was a Hollywood A-Lister, a famous person; a clamorous comedian; a childhood icon. But in that comic book shop, as he stood behind two other customers in line, waiting to buy a pile of printed graphics, he was just a hairy dude in a zippered winter coat, like an IRL Alan Parrish

It certainly made human my fantastic glimpse of a megastar, heh

Copyright© | B.Meddlesome | 11 Août 2014

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