Originally published June 2014
Celebrity memoirs often pique my interest if only because it allows my shallow superficial Id to bathe in the waters of narcissistic bullshit. It’s like reading a People magazine on steroids. And it’s a chance to connect with people you adore from afar.
I don’t remember if I ever had a Tiger Beat poster of you on my walls. I think so. I remember The Dukes of Hazzard featured prominently, as did Jimmy Baio. (Yes, JIMMY, not Scott.) But I knew you. I knew you in “The Outsiders.” And then I loved you in “About Last Night,” which I think is wholly underrated as one of the most iconic films of the late 80s, a love song to Chicago and a testament to the genius that is Tim Kazurinsky.
I first picked up “Stories I Only Tell My Friends” because my jaded, cynical “Oh please, you wrote a BOOK?” side of me hoped to poke holes—to find something you couldn’t do, besides age like every other damned Gen Xer on the planet. But Noooooo, you have to be a decent memoirist as well. Damnit!
So here you come again. Round Two. “Love Life.” This time, I’m taking you down. The book jacket had me all a-giggle. “Rob Lowe overnight in Sea World? DO TELL, ROB.”
But then you went and did it again. As I read page after page, I vascillated. Is he smug? Or is he just so real that what seems smug is really just down to earth? In some instances, you refuse to name names (Demi, cough cough, Robert Downey Jr., cough cough) but then you scorch Jewel and serve her on a silver platter. You talk about how no one wanted to date you as a teen, but good golly, man, you are one of the most handsome men in all of Earth’s time. I’m convinced you either have a painting in the attic or are drinking the blood of 15 virgins to keep those looks.
The conclusion I came to is this: I am just outrageously jealous you are not my neighbor. You are real, but what could appear as smug is simply you not really caring what other people think—you are successful, happy, in love with your wife and not into the Hollywood BS that often can swallow lesser actors whole. I want to barbecue with your wife and kids. Not in a stalky way of course. Just in a “Look, Rob has non-Hollywood friends that keep him real” kind of way.
And I learned this—that you, the real you, probably comes through in your acting more than some people realize. Your stories about borderline psychotic (my term, not Rob’s) parents demanding trophies for all kids, and strange mothers watching you sleep in the middle of the night and your subsequent responses could only be visualized as those that Sam Seaborn would have had. That incredulous, yet right on, kind of “WTF?” look you mastered. (And as an aside, Rob, had it been I bunking down with you at Sea World, I would have played it totally cool, but … yeah, I probably would have been all Eyes Wide Open on you in the middle of the night.)
Here’s the takeaway for my readers—as pretty as Rob as, whatever you think of his acting … he’s a parent and a spouse. And he’s an addict. And of these topics, a lot of what he says cuts to the bone. The chapter/essay on his son’s departure for college is killer, as is the chapter on rehab and a fellow addict, Buck. Buck’s discovery that he needs to forgive himself for things that happened in his childhood—things he had no control of—serves as a reminder to all of us, even those that don’t struggle with addiction, that to move forward in life, you do need to put the past to bed. Each day is indeed a gift.
I’m not sure if Rob would be horrified if this book was ever lampooned by “Celebrity Autobiography” or disappointed if it weren’t. Either way, it’s an honest, fun and even touching read.
P.S. Rob, I am so down with your ending to “Lyon’s Den” I can’t even describe it. It is a damned crying shame we didn’t get to see it. Perfection!