Luke Perry’s Last Gift to Humanity

Beverly Hills

When Luke Perry had a stroke, I dismissed it, thinking the 52-year-old would experience existential dread but recover from the experience.

Instead, he died and I am reminded how mortal we all are and the lessons people leave behind.

This actor’s death made me sad.

I was in middle school and watched 90210 religiously for the first few seasons. I prepared myself for high school with it, it provided me with a moral compass and male role models.

I wanted to be Dylan McKay. I don’t even have to look it up to see if I spelled it right. That’s how impressed I was with his sideburns. He was cool and seemed like he had all the answers. What was he, a recovering addict? I decided to never dance because Brandon Walsh said writers didn’t dance and I did not do drugs because Dylan McKay promised it would ruin me if I did.

As a boy raised without a father, Dylan McKay and Brandon Walsh (and lots of others) helped guide me into manhood.

And with him gone in such a surprising fashion, I find myself desperately searching for a way to rationalize it so I can promise myself I’ve done enough to avoid this kind of end.

My wife told me he beat cancer just recently, and I remembered reading somewhere chemo gives you chunky blood, and leaves you more prone to strokes and heart disease.  But I looked it up, and it was a cancer scare 4 years ago. Then I remember him as a smoker. Maybe an Entertainment Weekly photo from so many decades ago showed him with a lit cig, but it doesn’t help because I was a smoker and even though I quit 7 years ago, I could still be in trouble. Maybe I should quit eating pizza or double down because life is too short.

I know all of these thoughts are a waste of effort, yet I do it every time someone too young dies suddenly.

Until Luke Perry succumbed to his stroke, I hadn’t thought of the cast of 90210 in years.

Sharknado brings them to mind, when another sequel is released with Ian Ziering heading those odd movies. Have yet to see one though. I hear they are as bad as they sound and yummy fun. I did not watch Riverdale either, but again hear Perry, playing parental dad-to-all to the younger cast, is amazing with the irony.

There is so much to love about this man’s life before he was cut down by fate and circumstance.

We are mortal and we have to go, and this is one those cases where you can be aware of the various ways you can die and do all the things on the list that make it possible to avoid, and still fall prone.

I wish the man bon voyage on what I hope is the great journey beyond life, and as a parting gift along with all the other lessons he gave me as a kid, he gave me one more, courtesy of Colin Hanks:

Bring balloons on planes, because there may be a screaming kid and humanity will thank you later.

Mr. Perry, where were you when my wife and I took our 2-year-olds to Hawaii?

In fact, maybe this will be his longest-lasting legacy, balloons on flights to stop screaming kids, or to be more succinct: happiness, and peace.



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