I’ve been resisting writing this, a eulogy for my friend—mostly because, once I got started writing, I feared that I might not be able to stop. Or want to. But today is the day of his memorial service, so since I can't be there, here it is.
Tons and tons of elegies for the man known all across the Internet as Acidman are out there for the reading—one of the most poignant, honest and most felt-by-me is from Steve Graham, who is only a hair’s breath worse writer than was the Man himself (I think Steve would agree). Paraphrasing the quote from me on his blog--which I wrote to him in email--Rob was loved and hated by nearly all who came across one of his missives. There was no middle ground. That quality speaks of a person who was alive, genuine, vital and uncompromising. What was not to love—or to hate?
But all that’s been said over and over again, ad infinitum. At first, I had decided not to put up anything further about Rob here, simply because I knew that anything I would write would be--selfishly--about my relationship with him. (Steve mentioned this phenomenon in the link above.) But, if I am to talk about Rob, there is no way that I can avoid this, since most observers know that Rob and I had complicated relationship and worshipped each other from afar.
It started with me commenting on his blog, usually about his posts regarding women, specifically about his ex-wife and their tussles regarding their son. My emails would contain detailed information, demonstrating that women aren’t the only ones capable of being as cold-hearted as his ex was to him (I have an ex-spouse also.) Occasionally I would comment on his race-related posts, without letting on that I am black and a Californian.
When I started my blog in 2003 and had been posting for a bit, I sent him a link. He linked to me immediately and marveled at how much we agreed on certain things, considering our divergent demographics.
Our relationship went pretty smoothly for a bit—always with him extending the occasional invitation to visit him at his home in Georgia. Wining, dining and gentlemanly behavior were always promised along with the honest admission that he would do his best to talk my clothes off.
Then came the n-word controversy. Denunciations and delinkings came from far and wide.
Rob’s post containing the n-word in an epithetical context came in the wake of a trip he took to Jamaica. I always suspected that he did some hardcore drugs on that vacation (as did many others), because immediately following his return, his post were nonsensical, mean, full of misspellings and full of grammatical errors. And if you know of Gut Rumbles and of its author—the possessor of an undergraduate degree in English Literature—you know that these types of errors were anomalies. He only seemed to slowly shake it off.
To make a long story short, I stopped talking to him for a bit. Then--as often happens with me and with those whom I care about—I got tired of being mad and we ‘squashed’ it.
I talked to him on the phone once for a couple of hours. His voice was warm, musical and only slightly Southern. He called me without identifying himself and, at first, and I wondered which old boyfriend had looked me up. (Yes, his voice had the cadence that many black men have, though not all of my old boyfriends have been black.)
I don’t remember a damned thing we talked about. All I remember is saying happily, “Rob…,” when he said who it was.
For whatever reason, I adored that man.
Of course, I know that I’m not alone. Rob had “wimmen” throwing their drawers at him left and right. I read about some of that drama occasionally, with rueful amusement. I’m sorry that none of them could make him happy. He had a quality that drew people to him--men, too--
often, as they were kicking and screaming.
Some part of me hopes that Rob is in a place which is identical to his beloved Costa Rica—where the women and sun are warm, where the alcohol will have all of its benefits and none of the drawbacks, where Rob has never had prostate cancer and has a working, willing and inspired “Roscoe,” and where he can communicate and be understood. And that part of me wishes that he's there at that mythical place acting as father to a young boy who looks a lot like one Quinton Smith and to a beautiful young woman who looks a lot like one Samantha Smith until the genuine articles meet him there a long time from now.
However, I am a Christian. I believe in the saving Power of Jesus Christ and in an Afterlife spent in Heaven or Hell. There’s no getting around that for me, nor for the friend whom I loved so much. That’s the biggest part of what has kept me from writing extensively about Rob’s passing.
Rob was an uncompromising atheist. Of course I prayed for him, as did Steve and, undoubtedly, as did countless other Christians who allow themselves to love those who don’t believe as they do.
Due to a (now deleted) post, which immediately preceded his death, the speculation is that Rob committed suicide, even though Samantha said that there was no physical evidence of that. I pray that the physical evidence points to the facts of a "natural" death, as I pray that Rob had time to ask the Lord for forgiveness and redemption before he left us. As I said, there's no getting around that for me.
So there we are. Actually I don't want to know the details of Rob's death ever and I hope that Samantha doesn't post them one way or the other. When it's my time to meet the Lord, I will rejoice in doing so. But, afterward, I will look for Robert Smith.
I pray that I will find him there.
UPDATE: Here's a post from one of Rob's guestblogging stints right here at this blog.