Monday, January 19, 2009

Good morning, Robot

[Editor's note: This was written last Thursday. It's published today in honor of Bob May - the man inside the Robot - who died yesterday at the age of 69.]

“Do you know if my new headband is in the ski bag?” I ask Jim this morning.

It’s -24 degrees here. No wind chill factor. Just plain old -24 degrees.

I can’t be the only Chicagoan thinking: ‘Fuck you, Al Gore. Fuck you and fuck global warming. My ass is a polar ice cap, motherfucker, and it ain’t melting.’

Anyhow. It’s cold. And layers are in order.

“I don’t remember,” he says. “Where are the ear muffs I got you?”

I could tell him that it’ll be plenty cold enough to wear both the headband and the muffs, but I’m already halfway downstairs.

Jim likes reminding me to use the things he’s gifted me. It’s his little way of nagging saying: “Why don’t you use the shit I get for you? I love you.”

Me, I don’t do that so much. Even though I seriously could.

An acoustic guitar for his birthday before we got married. Wireless headphones for Christmas eight years ago. A cool new turntable for our 10-year anniversary last August.

I pass all of these items – none of which are being used to their full potential – trudging through the basement to find the ski bag.

“Good morning, Robot,” I say.

Good morning, Robot? Hedy? Have you gone mad with the cold?


But when you have a 6’5”, 375 lb. robot living in your basement, ‘good morning’ just seems like the right thing to say.
I should’ve known it would happen.

We were at a geekfest sci-fi/comic book show in Rosemont back in the late 90’s.

It’s when I began to understand Jim’s unholy obsession with all things Lost in Space.

Apparently the entire crew from the Jupiter 2 would be there signing autographs.

“Except Guy Williams,” Jim reminded me. “He’s dead.”

We had to go.

Walking in – sure as shit – there they were. Judy. Don. Penny. The mom, June Lockhart. Billy Mumy.

“There he is,” Jim said in a hushed voice, poking my arm. “There HE IS. It’s DR. SMITH.”

Jonathan Harris, better known as that evil-minded intergalactic stow away Dr. Zachary Smith, was now a frail-ish old man sitting alone behind a table fiddling with a Sharpie, waiting to sign autographs.

I head over to get a closer look. Approaching the table, I realize Jim is no longer next to me.

He’s standing back where I left him. Thirty feet away. Petrified.

“What are you doing? C’mon, let’s go meet him,” I say.

“You don’t understand, this guy was my idol,” he says. “I can’t talk to him. He’s Dr. Smith.”

That’s the moment.

The moment when I probably should’ve realized some day we’d be living with a fully functioning, soil-sampling Model B-9, Class M-3 General Utility Non-Theorizing Environmental Control Robot.
“You gotta listen to this message.”

That was Jim, back in July, dragging me upstairs to the answering machine.

It was the Robot company. Calling to tell us that our Robot is ready. Jim had been on a waiting list for four years and it’s finally ready.

Our Robot. Is ready.

The look on his face was priceless.

Getting-a-blowjob-on-your-birthday-whilst-bathing-in-Balvenie priceless.
Yes. Four years on a Robot waiting list.

I know. Shaddap.
Incidentally, meeting the actors from Lost in Space was trippy.

June Lockhart was friendly and gracious, as expected.

I asked Judy and Don if they ever fooled around on the set. Jim smacked me on the arm. They glanced at each other and said “Well, we were both married at the time…” and then they smiled. Yep.

But dear old Dr. Smith was the best. A hoot and a half.

At the time, the new Lost in Space movie was in the works and we asked him if he’d be participating.

“I have what I like to call ‘fuck you’ money,” he said in that unmistakably imperious dialect. “When they asked me if I wanted a cameo, I said ‘fuck you.’”

“He’s here.”

I got the email from Jim the morning of July 30.

It took both of us using a handcart to haul him downstairs. And about 20 minutes to set him up.

So what does the Robot do, Hedy?

He’s charming. He talks. A lot. And when you yank out his power pack (just like they did on the show) he bitches you out before shutting down. He’s got a soil sampler that tells us the floor is dirty. He’s extremely heavy so he’s stationary, but his body rotates when he’s on.

He’s everything you’d imagine he’d be. And he’s in our basement.

So yeah. Good morning, Robot.
I am listening to: Sing for You – Tracy Chapman
I am reading: Nothing
And I am: Going on a big scary adventure


molly gras said...

going on a big scary adventure, eh?! Will you be reporting back to us ... or to the robot upon your return!

You Know Who said...

I'm glad I didn't know Jim before Dr Smith became his idol. I'll bet he was a real dork before Lost in Space shaped him into the cool guy he is today.

Dave said...

Tell us about Gromit and the Robot. There's got to be a story.

And, if your are busy on your adventure, Grommie, tell us on your own.

Susan's Snippets said...

Hedy -

It would be nice if you could get Robot to cook and clean also! Then he would get even more raves!

lost in space was one of my favs

Hedy said...

Yep, but first I'm having a big scary flu. Bleh.

Dave: Gromit doesn't pay any attention to Robot. Because he can't move (forward/backward), Gromit doesn't see him as a threat.