So I called up my buddy Robin Williams, to congratulate him on the series premier of his new show, which I thought was extremely well done, but all he wanted to talk about was The Good Old Days In Rehab. Because that’s, of course, where we met. And I’m like “Robin, are you freaking serious? Rehab was NOT the Good Old Days, rehab was the closest you can come to hell while breathing on this planet.”
Robin didn’t want anyone to know about his little side trip, at the time, so he snuck into a state-sponsored rehab center in the middle of absolutely nowhere Kentucky. Since I was poor at the time, and had no insurance, I got Assigned there, where a staff of very few would make due with very little and pretty much look the other way as the various drunks snuck off to buy booze or had it smuggled in. The staff went through the motions, but they knew they were fighting a losing battle. It was mostly young guys sent there by court order because they were only in their 20’s and had already had far too many run-ins with the law, or old farts whose wives and families had sent them to dry out for 30 days so they could come home and slowly build back up to their former status of nearly but not quite dead from rot-gut. It was not a pretty place. It was, in fact, an Awful place. And for me, it worked, because all I had to do was look around the room to see exactly what I had become and exactly what I was going to become if I didn’t get my shit together fast.
Robin didn’t even look like Robin, he was so messed up. Of course, he’d been playing with the whole encyclopedia of addictive substances, so by the time he made it to nowhere Kentucky, he was pretty much NOT the Robin Williams everybody knows and loves from Mork and Mindy and the zillion movies he’s made. He was just another burned out bum. But we smoked the same brand of cigarettes, so we bonded over menthol, and I didn’t even know who he was until near the end, when glimpses of his normal self started peeking through.
But the dude always had a warped sense of humor, and I guess the only way he can deal with that particular time of his life is to turn the negatives into positives, which is actually not a bad coping mechanism for dealing with the entire world. I prefer to keep my memories of that time real, and scary, and horrible, because that’s what keeps me from ever going back.