I have this theory; bear with me a moment.

Back in the early to mid-1980s Mr. T was everywhere. He was in a huge movie (Rocky III), a not-so-huge movie (D.C. Cab), he was the break-out star of the hit series The A-Team, he had his own breakfast cereal (it was just reshaped Capt. Crunch, but still, how many of us are ever immortalized on the breakfast tables of millions of children?), hell, he was even on a Saturday morning cartoon as himself. The mohawk sporting, feather earring wearing, behemoth of a man who wore so many gold chains that he was probably followed by agents of the Federal Reserve and a chiropractor 24/7 for his own safety.

And then he was gone one random day, without so much as a last list of things he wouldn’t eat because Murdock had probably poisoned them or even a list of fools to pity in his absence. He simply abandoned us.

No more TV shows, no more films, no more spending Christmas at the White House as guests of Ron & Nancy Reagan. Yeah, that happened too, the only explanation for the entire decade of the 1980s is ‘Cocaine’. I wonder if he was there the same day Pablo Escobar and his youngest son were taking a vacation in America, and getting their photos taken by a random tourist in front of the White House because Pablo’s son wanted a keepsake of their trip. Escobar was on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List at the time (Numero Uno as I recall, the most wanted man in the world). At the same time, he was posing for photos in front of the White House surrounded by tourists, Feds, and DC Metro Police

Mr. T might very well have been inside, explaining to President Reagan the growing concern of fools in this country, and congress in particular, and how they needed to be pitied before it was too late. Afterwards the Escobar family they took in more sights and continued on their family vacation. In America.

Cocaine, man. Fucking cocaine.

Then, one fateful day Mr. T vanished from our lives the same way he entered them; mysteriously, and without warning. Similar to what I want my tombstone epitaph to say (He died like he lived; Mysteriously and without warning) Many have presented hypotheses over the years as to why. Some say drugs or gambling debts, wild overspending on farmers coveralls, sneakers, and knee-high white socks, others that his Andy Warhol predicted “15 Minutes” was up. Still others believe he returned to his home planet after gathering all the intel on our species that he could in his present form. None of these are correct.

I have the answer, an answer that has been staring millions of us in the face for decades. No, not his face on aging boxes of sugary breakfast cereal shaped like little ‘T’s, no, the definitive answer dammit. The answer to the mystery of where has Mr. T gone.

Here it is, and it’s so simple.

He simply ran out of Fools to Pity. One of his signature catchphrases, repeatable by a talking Mr. T doll with a pull string mechanism no less, was “I pity the fool…”. It seemed as though he was under contract to say it anytime a microphone was within 15 feet, like the worlds weirdest reverse-restraining order. He said it on The A-Team at least two or three times an episode. For 98 episodes. He said it in interviews, in public appearances, at airports when fans recognized him, at the mall, he probably started saying it in his sleep.

I think he woke up one day and the tank was empty. The Guff had run dry. He had no more pity to give, yet the world was still so very full of fools. He could do nothing for them, not even offer them his pity. The weight of this failing crushed the man whose broad, muscular shoulders had endured years of carrying more solid gold than would have been required to buy an entire bus full of The Solid Gold Dancers, luxury bus included. He collapsed under the immense weight of this pressure and retreated from public life. Outside the walls of his home it was teeming endlessly with fools, and he alone had been able to pity them, but he no longer could. When the realization that he simply had no more pity to give to any of the countless billions of fools in the world. When the weight of the realization of that failing set in, he must have collapsed in on himself like a dying star. The gravity of his greatest failing simply unavoidable and inescapable.

Like Robert Neville retreating into his fortified suburban home to escape the hordes of thirsty vampires screaming for his blood and calling him every single night to simply step outside, he was trapped. A man placed in solitary confinement in a prison of his own design.

He had pitied so very many fools for over a decade, in nearly every media format available at the time, but it just wasn’t enough. He could do no more and so he retreated from public life despite the endless screaming outside his walls of fools needing desperately to be pitied. Like Neville he simply turned up the music, poured himself a scotch, and tried to drown the noise out until the sunrise came once more to drive them away, to give the man a brief few hours of respite before the sun begins to sink low over the horizon. Then the fools, so many fools, with no direction, no compassion, merely needing someone, anyone, to pity them, turn once again to Mr. T’s fortified home begging for his pity. Once again, the music becomes louder, the alcohol flows more freely, and Mr. T sits alone in his fortress/prison/home waiting. Waiting for the fools to leave, as he long ago ran out of any remaining pity for them.

As the memory of the man and his exploits fades from public memory there is still a mighty void to be filled. No one before or since has pitied so many fools, for so many reasons. Its doubtful that anyone ever will be able to fully take up the mantle. A truly unique man, one too precious for this world.

Mr. T is Legend.

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