Now, the world don’t move to the beat of just one drum. What might be right for you, may not be right for some.
—Diff’rent Strokes theme song
These ever-so-true words were never-so-much-truer spoken than spoked for Gary "Don't Fucking Call Me Webster and if You Ask Me to Say 'What'choo Talkin' 'Bout Willis,' I'll Punch You in the Fucking Sternum!" Coleman. No drums beat for Coleman now, no worlds move, and nothing was ever right or ever shall be right again. Gary Coleman passed to his glory last Friday due to complications resulting from a fall that began in 1978. He looked 475 years old.
And what the hell was Willis talkin' 'bout, anyway? We shall never know.
Gary Coleman was a wounded man, in body and heart. He made us all feel like shit. But that came relatively much later, for, lo, in the glorious beginning, remember! He was a chubby-cheeked ball of adorable chocolate hilarity who bounced into our doting hearts once a week via the NBC. Then! He was a friend and advocate of black goldfish everywhere! Then! He enjoyed wacky old Mrs. Garrett's salmon patties, and how! Then! He excelled at spastic disco dancing, and water ballooning the annoying maintenance man, and being Mr. T! And sass! Then!
Then he was loved.
Let us remember those chubby cheeks as we reflect upon and celebrate what was true and right and good in the heart and life of Gary Coleman, the boy—a boy who grew to wear the pained and scowling mask of a very, very pissed-off little bastard who would totally knuckle-punch you in the tits, but perhaps a pissed-off little bastard who held a slightly less pissed-off little bastard deep, deep down inside, a good and decent man who might knuckle-punch you in the tits with less force than he could marshal.
Let us pray.
Poor Gary Coleman first opened his eyes upon the strange and wretched life that he grew to hate so much—a life that grew to hate him back—on February 8, 1968, in Zion, Illinois. An Aquarius, he believed in ghosts and had problems with his feet. And his kidneys.
Some say Gary was born in old General Hospital on Elisha Avenue. Others say he was harvested from a biopod in the basement of a secret experimental-genetics lab owned by certain studio interests (read: "Jews") as part of a long-standing and far-reaching plot to cheaply grow celebrities. (Some people claim that Gary was a freak accident in some biochemical reaction that created him as the evil twin counterpart of the gentle, kind, and benevolent Webster, who was grown in the same secret basement. But that's clearly psycho talk.)
Whatever the strange truth of Gary's nativity (secret lab!), at some point, his money-grubbing parents (or cybernetic nurture-bots!) remitted his general custody to rich white men in exchange for mountains of cash—most notably, one Philip K. Drummond, man of means.
Gary lived in a penthouse with a felon and a Wiccan heroin addict and a certain "Mrs. Garrett," an aged eccentric wanted in at least two states for questioning in several McMartin Preschool–type investigations. Who was this fey and wifeless "Mr. Drummond"? And what was his interest in these little black boys' jeans? Of which they had nothing but? Was this the worst case of white-guilt-overcompensation complex ever? Or was it something... dirtier? And where the hell was CPS? I ask you.
For poor Gary, it was all downhill from there.
After he became not profitable anymore and "Mrs. Garrett" went off to stalk vulnerable rich young lesbians in a fancy boarding school, Gary did his very best to make his way in the muggle world by doing odd jobs and hating everything. He took employment as an angry wee mall cop and as an angry wee hood ornament and as an angry wee unemployed guy. He was totally unsuccessful. Except for that last one.
Then, Vanilla Ice dangled him over a deep fryer by the ankles to force him to say "What'choo..." et cetera. By then a tragic end was pretty much fair accompli.
In his last interview, a junket for Midgets vs. Mascots, Gary said he wanted to "bash my fists right in my agent's face," which pretty much sums up his philosophy of life—the philosophy of a man whom the world had punched in the face with both fists. He wanted to punch the world back, and often, with his two too-little fists. (Meanwhile, Webster made a series of wise business investments and lives happy and content with his lovely wife. If he exists. Which he does not.)
Gary Coleman is survived by Molly Ringwald, Willis, Mrs. Garrett, and what's left of Nancy Reagan. He was also survived by Dennis Hopper, but barely. He was preceded in death by Lena Horne, hope, and the Gulf of Mexico.
Good night, wee prince. May flights of angels "what'choo" to your rest.
This article has been updated.