AT the moment I’m wondering if I’m either way shallower than I ever imagined or perhaps I really am just disrespectful. I’m hoping for neither, but let’s see. I’m sure you’re wondering what happened for me to draw such an indecisive conclusion (if that’s not an oxymoron).
Well, you see, a while back, while sitting around with a few others, someone commented on the sad news of the day; that Nelson Mandela had passed away. “Oh, yes,” we all nodded in reverent tones. Such a sad day for the world. What an amazing and inspirational man he had been, we agreed.
We all looked appropriately sombre as each of us, no doubt, considered our world without such incredible people as Mr Mandela.
But then, in the middle of our reverie, someone piped up with this:
“Oh, and did you hear the guy from Gilligan’s Island also passed away today too?”
A horrified collective gasp erupted around the room.
“Oh, my God. Not Gilligan. That’s so sad.” we blurted simultaneously, hands clutching anguished little faces. “Oh, that’s just horrible!” someone said. “Poor Gilligan,” said someone else, “…or whoever it was… do we know exactly which guy it was?
“Was it Bob whatshisname? Or the other one…. you know… the Skipper guy? Aww. Soooo sad.”
“I hope it’s not poor Gilligan,” I wailed. “I just loved him.”
With that, a few of us launched with gusto into a rousing rendition of the Gilligan’s Island theme song.
Much to the surprise of some of the onlookers, we knew it word for word and even did some comedic actions.
Afterwards we smiled with satisfaction at the fine tribute we’d just paid to a wonderful man. But which wonderful man did we honor? Was it Nelson Mandela, a real live, outstanding world icon; an admired leader and advocate for equality and peace?
No, it was Gilligan; that fictitious doofus who good-naturedly endured years of bullying by the screeching, camera-hogging, hat-slapping Skipper.
And all on a remarkably resource-laden uncharted desert island, complete with a movie star’s full wardrobe and a professor with enough know-how to build just about any device known to man…. except, oddly enough, a boat.
The ridiculous nature of what had just happened dawned on us and we began to giggle.
Even though the loss of any person’s life (including a poor man from a TV show) is indeed, sad, we felt slightly ashamed that perhaps we’d been a little more overtly upset by the demise of Gilligan.
My only defence is that we were swept away in a nostalgic moment and that perhaps Nelson Mandela’s passing was less of a surprise, given his age and poor state of health in recent months. That’s it. I’ve got nothing else.
As it happened, later in the day, a friend and I visited Google to verify which of Gilligan’s Island cast members had actually died and discovered there seemed to be no such news on that day and that, in fact, Bob Denver (aka Gilligan) had actually died eight years ago.
“Awww. Poor Gilligan,” we reiterated but, the news now being eight years old, definitely took the edge off our sorrow.
“And rest in peace, Nelson,” we added, acknowledging the true tragedy of the day.