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6:03 a.m. - 2003-07-29

BOB HOPE IS DEAD AND I HAVE AN UNSIGHTLY RASH ON MY ASS

Bob Hope.

Dead.

I read those words over and over again and yet together, they make no sense.

Because the death of one of America's funniest men doesn't make sense. It's like saying "Doodle Dee Doo Hop Cha Boing". You're all like....huh?

Casting away the usual smug sarcasm that I normally reserve for celebrity deaths, I'd like to take a moment here to share with you a memory that I will always have of Bob Hope.

I must have been three...four years old. I could have been five. Possibly six. I guess it might have been when I was seven. No older than eight though. Oh hell no. It HAD to have been before I turned eight. I mean...I would remember it like it was yesterday if I was nine or so. But I don't. So it had to have taken place before I was eight.

My father had taken me to an Auto Show which were all the rage in Peoria,Illinois when I was three or four years old. Possibly five...maybe six. Just... no older than eight.

I was especially jazzed about this particular Auto Show because none other than Burt Ward, the actor who played Robin on the TV series "Batman" was appearing and signing autographs that morning.

I remember begging my father to hurry and shower and get dressed so we could get to the Auto Show and Burt Ward could sign my vintage Batman #35 comic book before his hand started cramping and he just started scrawling jagged lines across the front of everyone's stuff.

We arrived at the Auto Show at 11 a.m., the announced time that Burt Ward would be appearing.

My heart raced with anticipation as I writhed through the swarming crowds,everyone desperate to steal a peek at one of the greatest crime-fighting sidekicks on television at the time if you didn't count Bruce Lee's "Kato" on "The Green Hornet".

To make a long story short, Burt Ward was snowed in somewhere in South Dakota and they had sent a replacement.

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Jeremy Gelbwaks.

Yep...the original Chris Partridge from "The Partridge Family" was there to take Robin's place.

If disappointment could be measured, I'd probably have about six and a quarter gallons of disappointment in my body at that point.

I remember crying.

And I remember throwing things at Master Gelbwaks and calling him everything from a butt-sniffing butthead to a meanie.

My dad dragged me screaming out of the Auto Show, took me home and sent me to my room.

Later on, he came up and asked me if I wanted to go outside and play catch with "someone special".

Naturally, I think it's Burt Ward, Robin from TV's "Batman".

I scurry down the stairs, run through the kitchen and fly out the back door.

It's Bob Fucking Hope.

Once again, I'm upset that Burt Ward, Robin from TV's "Batman" is not standing there in his lime green leotard with a Sharpie in his hand.

I grudgingly put on a catcher's mitt and play catch with Bob Hope.

We played in silence for about ten minutes before he finally broke the silence.

"Knock knock, kid," he says, pitching me the ball.

"Who's there," I mumbled, catching it.

"Auburn," he says.

"Auburn who?" I ask.

"Auburn your ass with a lit cigar if you don't straighten up and act like a goddamned human," he sneers.

Wait a second.

That wasn't Bob Hope.

That was my grandfather.

My bad.

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