Today is the birthday of an old friend and mentor we lost a few years back now. I logged into Facebook this morning and there he was, a reminder from the site that it was his birthday. On the one hand, there's a wonder to the way Facebook put his photo in front of me today. I don't know that I would've forgotten, but seeing my old mentor's face right away made me smile. And on his page there are gentle messages from people who miss him, wishing him a happy birthday from this world to the next.
But his career afforded him a little bit of celebrity, and there are people who follow his page still who have no idea that he's gone--and there's no reason they should, really. His passing was quiet and dignified. There were no big announcements. We spread his ashes in the Atlantic Ocean on a freezing January night, a dozen people who knew him from a dozen different ways. But there the comments are, the automatic "HBD!" posts, as if he's still out there somewhere, checking alerts on his iPhone.
Although honestly I think he'd be more than a little amused at this. I can picture him yelling loudly about the weirdness of it all. There'd be swearing involved. He sometimes played movie monsters during his career, and that size, that loudness, was central to his outward image, just as much as the philosopher and painter and speechwriter parts of hi were his internal self.
So, hey Hines, wherever you are. You're missed, old friend. I know I'm not the only one who still uses "what would Hines do right now" as my barometer for navigating this strange little world. Rare is the day I don't think it. See you again some day, I hope.
Matthew Phillion is the writer of "The Indestructibles," part-time actor, occasional filmmaker. Currently on the lam in Salem with his trusty dog, Watson.