It became a regular thing. I would get off work, go next door and try to secure a booth in the back. That's where I would hang out with my DJ friend and one of the actors from a popular TV show that was filmed at Paramount Studios. Since Fridays were pretty busy, I would continue my "runner" duties and go get drinks for my friends. They in turn would buy my drinks for me as I had to fight my way to the bar––which meant they also got their drinks faster. We usually only hung around for an hour or so as it frequently ended with me driving my friend home––I was not and still am not a big drinker––parking his car and walking to my house a mile away.
Now I grew up in "Hollywood." I lived there for a few years until my family settled into a neighborhood right outside of Hollywood. Which meant we knew people "in the business" from all walks of life––actors, TV news people, prop masters, set designers, caterers, you get the picture––so it wasn't unusual for me to be around celebrities. And working at the radio/TV station, one of my jobs was to greet people in the lobby and lead them to make-up for the local morning TV show. So I would meet tons of "celebs".
Back to the bar. It had to be a little after 6pm because my DJ buddy was already here as well as "Arnold" in the booth in the back that I had successfully secured that night. I had finally made my way to the bar rail and was waiting. And waiting. (The stars were there and they got served first most of the time). Finally the bartender looks my way and as I start to voice my order, he skips my eyes and asks the person next to me "what'll you have?". As I'm about to get vocal I hear a familiar voice––"I'll have a vodka gimlet but get this gentleman's order first because he was here before me."
I look to my right to say "thank you" when I see it's Robin Williams. He was starring in a show called "Mork and Mindy" and was now about as close as you can get to someone without being romantically involved. "Thank you, appreciate that", I said to Mr. Williams. He said, " well it's only fair, you were here first. Wow, you drinking all that?" I said, "if I did, I don't think I'll walk outta here tonight. I'm getting drinks for my friends. They buy, I fly." As I point to the booth, he says, "oh you know Pat?. And who is that sitting with him?" Me: "yes I do. And that's Bobby Ocean, a DJ next from the radio station next door. That's where I work." Mr. Williams: "I work next door. Robin, nice to meet you." "I'm Greg, nice to meet you. And thanks again for helping me out here." He says, "My pleasure. And let me pick-up the tab for these." Before I could say "no, that's OK, those Dudes are paying" he drops some cash on the bar, tells the bartender to keep the change and shakes my hand. "Nice to meet you, Greg. Good luck with everything."
I was a fan of his already. I had seen him on Happy Days and thought he was crazy funny. And now I find out he's real good dude. So I became an even bigger fan. And I have to admit, I kept going back to the bar to see if I could run into him again. But it never happened.
Needless to say when I heard of his passing, I was stunned. I still am, which is why it's taken me a few days to get this post out of my head. And I'm not going to talk about how he died or any other stuff––I know addiction and depression pretty well and I'll leave it at that. But when I hear his name from now on, I'll smile upon that one Friday night and tell anyone who wants to listen this story.