Thursday, March 24, 2011

THE PAIN OF FADING FAME

HEROES WHO WEAR THEIR HONORS OUT. Of course this strange vehicle attracts my attention.
Towing this! Can you see the racing motorcycle also? What is street racing? And why are the Datona Police involved? I will stand outside photographing till I attract the driver's attention and draw him outside---I want the story!
Meet Big Willie Robinson--- He understands--he emerges--with part of the story in hand.
We introduce and for the next hour he walks me through his life---showing me many photos of his beloved/deceased wife Tomico. He weeps when describing her though she's been gone some years. I flashed on the song Bo Jangles where the man still grieves 20 years after his little dog died.
He's the first and only president of Street Racers International--said he was enroute to California for a meet. I sensed that his club had peaked long ago---but occasional offers still come---and some towns still provide gas money for him to come and organize an event.
I wanted to see inside---without asking!! So I listened politely --- evinced my good will---interest---harmlessness (necessary skills to us travelers who are perpetual strangers) and sure enough he invited me inside. I have something valuable to offer----my attention--that is what I will pay for the story. He's 6 foot 6 inches or so and has to stoop a bit. I expected a bad smell but was pleasantoly surprised. This gentle giant sat beside me on his couch showing me his trophies of newspaper fame. They were extensive.
Looking forward at the console--he said was modeled after that of an airliner.
looking rearward----a giant TV--model race cars. He likes the look of spoilers--so he made a large one for his rig. Did you notice it? The rig seemed well lived in---it was perhaps 30 years old. We sat down and I paid attention while he showed me picts of himself with various notables (e.g. the Mayor of LA) some movie stars--Paul Newman--etc. He seemingly needed a fame "fix". My attention provided it and in return he gave me 3 autographed cd's telling his full bio.

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES: I came away sad and a bit exhausted. Ego on display is tiring. (I let myself be warned) Perhaps a single -themed Life such as his-- leads to a starving ego ---so that exchanges like this one amount to energy theft. Old folks I meet---having lived too narrow a life -- are often unbearably boring. Multi-dimentional--multi-faceted folks are sure to be more interesting---and more giving.











11 comments:

Rustedgranny said...

Sad, a little lonely, maybe missing past fame. But unlike his more famous counterparts (hollywood and music) he has not burned himself out with drugs or alcohol. He looks healthy, and is still doing what he likes. Your right - a lesson to be learned - don't focus too hard on just one interest..expand your passions.

john patrick said...

Thanks, Randy.

Seems that when life becomes too complicated, people jump off and maintain what they know best.

Jim said...

==========
My coming-of-age son was exposed to many other kids his age who were in various flavors of rehab, AA, etc. He said they were always FAR more interesting and fun to hang out with than the *good* kids who thought they had it all under control.
==========
His observation certainly parallels my own experiences growing up. We moved so often that my senior year in HS was the first year I went to the same school for the whole year. Those groups of kids who had known each other since birth are extremely tough circles to break into, but the hell raisers were open to all comers. I'd help 'em with their school work and they'd adopt me as one of their own. It seemed a fair trade at the time.
==========
sail4free
==========

Paxie said...

Enjoyed the story, but was a little saddened by your philosophy.

You seem to imply his world was not right compared to yours.

You don't know how he was when his wife was living.

I tend to over empathize :)

Boonie said...

I sometimes wish that the "Randy Philosophizes" section, at the end of the post, was longer. But maybe I should be praising your restraint in holding off to the end of the post, while emphasizing the empirical observations at the beginning of the post.

Randy said...

Yes Paxie: I'm judgemental about old people who are boring---If I had my way---boring old people would be horse whipped---till they quit stealing others' attention/energy. To be boring in old age is proof positive of a badly spent life. I get enraged at anyone who speaks in long paragraphs----does not practice give and take conversation. I've written a fierce poem on the subject-----will unleash it on the public sometime.

john patrick said...

(I get enraged at anyone who speaks in long paragraphs----does not practice give and take conversation.)

I used to be polite, sit there and listen. Now, I just get up and leave at the first sign of a monologue instead of dialogue.

I think that as age sets in, some prefer to stay where the copper is hardwired instead of engaging the creative/living part of the brain.

What's really bad is when two of these types are talking to each other and neither one is following the other.

It's best to just say, "I gotta' take a poop." And leave quickly!

Anonymous said...

Randy, got a question.

Have you met any travelers with kids in tow? Do you think it's do-able? Are many of those you met trying to avoid kids?

Thanks

Randy said...

Anonymous: Yes I've seen several and seriously engaged two sets of them---one was a conspiracy nut father but otherwise a nice guy with wife and 3 teen daughters. Even with his skewed thinking the family unit seemed happy. I sensed that the daughters wanted and needed a settled circumstance but were developing a useful adaptiveness. The 2nd was a religious family of 5 kids in a bus that I camped beside in Flagstaff for a time. They were lively and fun and even gave me an impromptu birthday party. I would like to know if--- overall---it is a good idea to raise kids while full time traveling. The book NOMAD suggest that mobile tribes get stuck socially in yesterday and rarely make progress. You've given me something to think more about---thanks-

dwmac71 said...

I remember reading an article in hot rod about big Willie and Tomico 20 years or so back or was it 30 years?
I'm saddened to hear of Tomico passing but glad to see Willie is carrying on.
From what I can recall he ran a HEMI Charger Daytona on the drag circuit in the early 70's

Paxie said...

I agree with the monologue versus the dialogue. Not too keen on one sided conversations unless the individual is troubled and needs to vent. This is not the case of this man.