“How can Rick be dead when we still have his poems?”
That’s the attitude I try to have when it comes to the death of someone I loved, yet never met.
In 2013, I lost three of my best friends. The news was devastating every time. Did I know them personally? No. And yes. And not really. And very well.
Why did I consider them my friends? All of them had just, I dunno — all of them had gotten me through so many confusing, shitty, or just plain boring times. I hope I don’t sound too crazy when I say that. I’ve never stalked anyone and I understand the difference between fantasy and reality, but yeah, these people meant a lot to me. They still mean a lot to me. I can call them my “friends” if I want. And I was sad when my friends made their exits.
Still, the question remains: “How can Rick be dead when we still have his poems?”
Lou Reed? He ain’t dead. He can’t be. I still love him very much and I still have “Sweet Jane,” so nothing has changed.
James Gandolfini isn’t dead, either, and neither is Tony Soprano. (My theory, anyway.)
Peter O’Toole. My dearest, darling Peter O’Toole. The coolest. The smartest. The hottest. The craziest. That voice. That height. That hair. I think about him all the time and I miss him all the time, and yet, as long as I can get together with my friends every December and laugh and cry and yell and drink champagne while watching The Lion in Winter, Peter O’Toole can never die.
This morning, as soon as I got to work and turned on my computer, I found out that Rik Mayall died. Today. Rik Mayall died today. Weird. So very weird. And sad. He was still, well, young…
Just last week, I was listening to The Pogues and wondering when Shane MacGowan would die. I was also wondering why Shane MacGowan hasn’t died already. Seriously.
I should stop. I don’t wanna give the universe any ideas.
My point is, I was already thinking about my remaining heroes and wondering who I’d lose next. Apparently, not Shane MacGowan.
Oddly enough, I was also thinking about The Young Ones last week. I don’t remember why or how, but, quite suddenly and inexplicably, I felt inspired to find the Dr. Marten’s boots song on YouTube. After watching it, I spent a good hour and a half searching for cheap Dr. Marten’s online. No avail.
The next day, a co-worker of mine mentioned The Young Ones. He’s Scottish. I said, “I fucking love The Young Ones.” He said, “That’s too weird.” I asked him why. He said, “It’s just weird that you even know that show.” I asked him why. He said, “I dunno. I mean, it’s British and it’s old and it’s weird…I mean, I was watching that when I was in high school.” I said, “So was I.”
If you knew me in high school, you must recall that I was a pretty cool teenager. I mean it. Like, the coolest. For example, when I was 15 or 16, I begged my mom to buy me orange suede ADIDAS like the ones Ewan McGregor wears in Trainspotting. I felt so badass whenever I wore them. Like, so very, very badass. I also begged her to buy me a pair of plaid pants, because, ya know, Scotland. Or something.
There’s really, like, very minimal plaid in Trainspotting. I realize that now.
The coolest thing, though, was that every Saturday afternoon in tenth grade (after improv practice, no less) I would go to my friend Kaley’s house for Britcom. Yes. Britcom was our somewhat exclusive club that involved eating ice cream and watching British comedies until our eyes hurt. We wrote a constitution at one point. I don’t remember what was in it except for The Golden Rule, which came from an episode of Father Ted: “If anyone is ever talking to you again, think about what you’re saying and then don’t say it, and then just run away somewhere.”
The Young Ones was one of Britcom’s staples. Every David Bowie reference made me feel so damn validated. I went out and bought a Madness record and listened to “House of Fun” on repeat. I began referring to my English teacher as a “fascist bully boy,” despite the fact that she was a She. I seldom said, “I don’t have any money” — I usually launched into a Neil impression and said, “We haven’t got any breaaaad.” When I was feeling boy crazy I was a “Bitch funky sex machine.” I wrote “Boomshanka” on things I shouldn’t have written “Boomshanka” on. I even once got a Starbucks barista to write it on the sleeve of my Americano. I think I still have that sleeve somewhere.
Rik Mayall is dead. The people’s poet is dead. I’m sad for his wife and his family. I’m sad for Ade Edmondson. Like I keep saying, though, “we still have his poems.”
My VHS tapes of The Young Ones were dragged from my parents’ house to my college dorm (there was a VCR in the downstairs common room), and when I moved out of the dorm and into an on-campus apartment, I made sure to buy a TV that had both a VHS player and a DVD player. Why? Well, how could I live without Neil, Mike, Vyvyn, and Rick? They were university students, after all.
I still have those tapes. I’m not ever going to get rid of those tapes.
Aw, Rick. Thanks for helping make it nearly impossible for me to legitimately enjoy 99.9% of the current comedies on television. No giant sandwiches falling from the sky? No jokes about Leonard Cohen being a vampire? No pervasive political undertones? No, thank you.
There was also the music: Dexy’s Midnight runners doing “Jackie Wilson Said” and multiple Madness appearances and that great scene with friggin’ Motorhead…
What the hell is that shot of you guys being pushed on that…what is that? That’s a luggage carrier thing, right? Well, it slays me. Every time.
Ah, Rick. Thank you. Your show is so damn cool. So, so cool. It had everything the teenage version of Steff wanted in a show, and, since 27 year old Steff is very similar to the person she was 11 years ago, it’s still one of my all time favorites. It’s part of me, really. An appreciation for The Young Ones (or the ability to sit through several episodes in-a-row) is my litmus test for whether or not a man is husband material. (Husband, not boyfriend. Those are two different things.) Watching an episode of The Young Ones is my solo go-to activity when I’m having a shitty day. The music that plays during the end credits is what I hear in my head when I’m exceptionally happy.
Aw, Rick. RICK. My favorite pseudo-intellectual-anarchist-hipster-bachelor-boy. You’ve never failed to make me smile. You never will, you friggin’ weirdo.