I’m going to start off with this: last Friday sucked in a very, very bad way.
Mr. Muse met me for our breakfast date with a “Hello,” and “Wow… Anthony Bourdain killed himself, huh.” I realize that to the average reader, this reads as a callous observation, but let me assure you it wasn’t it. My response was less classy, “Are you fucking kidding me?!” He said that he figured I was listening to NPR (I was listening to my newest audio book) and that I would have heard. I sat for a moment and absorbed that information, murmured a soft, “Well…. Fuck,” and carried on with the breakfast date.
And as the day progressed, I thought about why I was affected by this celebrity death and not by the myriad of other celebrity deaths, and it came down to one thing: I think Anthony Bourdain was my hero.
That’s a huge thing for me to say, to myself or to anyone reading this blog. The last celebrity whose career I followed this closely was Bugs Bunny when I was a devotee of, and never missed a Saturday morning, Looney Tunes. My obsession went so far as me grabbing a carrot to eat while I watched. (For what it’s worth, I often watched while upside down on either the couch or in the recliner. I don’t know what that means about me, but… I was a kid and it’s what I did.)
When I talked about wanting to write more, a friend asked me in whose style I would want to be most like aside from my own. My response: Anthony Bourdain. I clarified that it was because he appeared in every way to be genuine, authentic, unapologetically sincere and blunt and crass and with a rough finesse that I found endearing in his shows. He was a celebrity who I was certain that if I ever met him, I wouldn’t be disappointed in the reality of them.
From what I’ve read over the last week – I suspect my theory to be correct.
I glommed onto watching his television shows early. The premise was fascinating to me because, though I watched Food Network, his show wasn’t necessarily about the food, though food always played a part. It was about humanity. It was about Us. The capital ‘U’, Us. It was a program that showed Us, that we humans are all just trying to live, to get by, and as much as we are different – we’re the same. He reminded us that we could have fantastic conversations with people who hold fundamentally different opinions from ourselves and be better for it.
He did not skim the touristy surface of locations which he visited. We got to see it all. He spoke to people as equals, and it didn’t matter what their background was. He wasn’t disingenuous. He was sincere. Those who watched his show welcomed him into our homes to show us parts of the world near and far, of cultures removed from our own, if even by only a few hours.
And, so, I found myself in the car last Friday afternoon, driving along, and mourning a soul who’d left before the rest of us were ready. I sang along with my heavy metal-to-pop play list and cried when certain songs played, the lyrics about loss and tragedy.
I grieved as I realized that I’d lost a hero I didn’t know I had.