I didn’t realize how important it would be that I was able to finally make a film about my neighborhood this past winter, but it will now be one of my most cherished memories of my life. Bob Records passed away this past Sunday, April 17th, leaving behind his wife, two beautiful children, five grandchildren, and a neighborhood that will never forget him.
I've had a difficult time explaining to people the tragedy of the loss I, and those of the Wilking Way cul-de-sac, are suddenly facing. Mainly, I wasn't sure what word to use to efficiently describe my relationship with him. I could say neighbor, but it doesn't mean the same thing to everyone; it didn’t hold the right weight. Part of me wanted to say father, but that might offend my actual father (who is probably reading this -- you know I love you but, you get it). I also could've said uncle, and actually did a couple times, but that’s just another lie, and then years later when an uncle actually does die, I’d feel guilty about false uncle mourning. Jokes aside, the truth is I've lost my Bob, and only those who had Bob can know what this means.
I was unaware of how special my neighborhood was until I left for college, where I was startled to find not everyone waltzes into each other’s houses unannounced, usually carrying a plate of cheese (or demanding one). And it was actually quite unusual to the general public that people not only liked their neighbors, but that they even stuck around. On top of that, to meet every day at 5PM for sauvignon blanc over ice and pretzels? Really? Every day?
And finally, people were easily offended. One dirty and they’re walking in the other direction. Though it might’ve been because they actually believed you when you announced your campaign to free Scott Peterson.
That was one of Bob’s favorite non-PC jokes; During and after the trial, he would shout “FREE SCOTT PETERSON!” from the patio where the neighborhood parents met (with or without their children) for the above mentioned five o’clock vino gathering. That was Bob’s style. He loved you, but he wanted to piss you off. He was the person who greeted you with a “fuck you,” but would also give you the shirt off his back; Something he quite literally did for me once after I simply remarked “I like your shirt.” The next day as I was packing my bags to return to Los Angeles, Bob walked into the house, threw the shirt at me, and left. He had a lunch date.
That’s another thing about Bob. He was a man everyone wanted to have lunch with. And from what I could tell, in addition to the obviously great conversation (i.e. did you hear about so-and-so, and also I saw the new Redford film, it was neat), he was having great lunches. Burgers, BLTs and the perfect soups, always from the newest places in town. If you wanted to have lunch with Bob, you’d need to book in advance, with a reminder to check in to see that he was still available on Tuesday.
I foolishly put my neighborhood in a time capsule in my mind--I thought of it as existing inside a snow globe, where nothing could ever change. Except instead of snow, there was wine. And there was Bob, always smiling, even when he was calling me a brat, which was often, because I am. Being the baby, or the “accident,” of the neighborhood resulted in lifelong spoiled behavior which I denounce any regret for. It also meant I would prefer hanging out with people 50+ years older than me for the duration of my life. I’ve often been told I act much older than I am and it’s because I was raised on the patio. In between the crude jokes and the swearing, I was learning how to be a mature, honest, and very happy person. A lot of this came from Bob. He had a humor and wit unlike anyone I’ve ever known, and he seemed to know a little bit about everything. “You know, back then, they were the ones making all the sandwiches for 7-11.” No I didn’t know that, Bob. He knew everyone, he’d seen everything, and he did it with his wife, whom he adored. Bob and Beth are an iconic couple in my mind, always together, always laughing, always moving—one reluctantly telling the other at the end of happy hour, “Ok Records, it’s time to go home.”
In addition to the lunch dates, he and Beth volunteered, mentored, gave back to the community; always helping someone, if not you, with something, before they sat down in their matching leather chairs to watch an episode of Homeland (pictured below). I was recently very upset to find out that before my time, Bob had “Bob’s Blades,” a weekend ritual where he took the neighborhood kids out for rollerblading excursions. That being said, I am a terrible athlete, so it’s for the better I wasn’t alive yet. The point is, he was there for you. Whether it was to make you laugh, to take your kids off your hands, or to pour you a drink, he was there, he was Bob.
I don’t want to imagine a morning on Wilking Way where he isn’t standing in his driveway, ready to chat, already having completed his 10,000 steps, while his dog Mitts decides whose lawn she would crap on today. (In a neighborhood where everyone has dogs, they each have full-crap-reign, there is no determining between whose crap is whose and its not worth fighting about, though fights have erupted but have almost always been resolved). As you’d approach him, in my case and his usually hungover, Bob would say “Fine and you?” before you could get a word in. The man acted as if no one had ever asked how he was, and he thought it was hilarious every time, and it was, every time.
I spent the bulk of January listening to recorded conversations with Bob over and over again as I frantically worked to finish Small Talk. There were so many good one liners it was hard to decide what to include in the film. “Your dad tells me to stop drinking, and I say I will you if you will, doctor,” didn’t make it in, but “You know if I wasn’t sexually abused as a child I would’ve had no sex life at all,” did.
While everyone in our neighborhood is a gem, Bob was the heart. I hope I can live a life as rich in friends and in love.
Bob, you are missed, you are loved, you are probably having a drink, wherever you are.