After the show on Monday the 12th, Sarah and I made our way toward the Green Room with about 10 or 12 other "production guests" as we're called. After our credentials were checked at the door, we advanced down a hallway trying to be casual and failing miserably. Alan stood outside the Green Room with his back to us. It looked like he was texting. Someone approached him wearing very discordant clothing: red trainers/sneakers, jeans, a dull blue and white jacket (can't remember the shirt color, but I'm sure it was atrocious). Someone got dressed in the dark I thought to myself.
Yeah, that was Stephen.
Heart attack #1.
He said something to Alan as I slid past them into the Green Room and stood by the door like an unconvincing bouncer. The first words I heard Stephen say: "I need a drink."
That's when he scooted past me. The room was very crowded and I tried to allow proper wiggle room for him. Then I came to my senses and deliberately bumped into him. I may or may not have touched his bum. Yeah, I totally touched his bum.
Sarah and I then hung out in my middle of the room planning our next move. About four days passed and we were still planning. Stephen was talking to some guy and they both brandished iPhones. If only I had an iPhone, then I could pop over and be all: OMG you have an iPhone, too!!!
Enter the angelic John Lloyd. He and Sarah exchanged pleasantries, Mr. Lloyd asked me where I was from, and I grow some balls and said, "I live in a constant state of misery. I'm sorry, that's Missouri. Same difference." To his magnanimous credit, Mr. Lloyd did not have me forcefully evicted from the premises at so dreadful a pun.
Sarah then mentioned that I (that is me, Fryphile) would really like to meet Stephen. She also said that I (still me) had a present for him.
"Oh, yes?" John said conspiratorially as he peeked at a bag I held.
BTW I held a bag.
"What is it?"
"Um . . ." I stammered, fearful that if I told him he might tell Stephen and ruin the surprise.
"Come on, you can tell me."
I told him.
"I love it." Then to Sarah: "Do you need me?"
Oh, yes. We need you Uncle Johnny.
Mr. Lloyd led us to the bar where Stephen now was. He introduced him to Sarah. Blah-blah blah Then I think he introduced me by saying something like, "This is Jeremy. He's come all the way from Missouri to give you a present."
Stephen leaned over to me. I felt like a hamster in front of a hawk.
"Nice to meet you, Jeremy," he boomed, his voice full of earthquakes. I managed not to faint and shook his hand. It was like holding a slice of angel food cake. It felt inhuman, so light and fluffy. Perhaps he is an angel after all.
Stephen said that one doesn't meet too many American Jeremys. I responded breathlessly: "YesyoumentionedthatbeforeonanepisodeandJeremyClaksonsaidsomethinglikeit'stoodifficultforthembecauseithastoomanysyllablesandthatkindofupsetme."
"Where in Missouri are you from?"
Shit. Where do I live again?
"It's technically Independence, but I usually say Kansas City. They're about five miles apart. Did you go through Kansas City on your trip?"
"Afraid not. We were in St. Louis."
"Oh, yes. Been there many times. Very nice."
Actually St. Louis is a shithole. Ask any Kansas Citian and he'll tell you the same
"So, you have a present for me?"
Stephen got suddenly excited here. He was almost bouncing.
"Yes. I saw this in a store before I left. The name of it is three words that I think best describes you."
I slowly pulled out of my bag a
"Pink . . . Sparkle . . . Bear."
Stephen SQUEED. He facepalmed and wiggled and did a penguin-like side-to-side dance.
"And if you squeeze his little hand (I squeezed his little hand), he glows pink. (Little lights shown in the bear's face and belly) He's almost as pink as you are now!"
STEPHEN WAS PINK. His cheeks and nose and forehead were incandescently pink. If he fainted, I could give him CPR. Kinda.
I handed the bear to him and he cuddled it to his left cheek and neck. The ultimate snorgle spot. If only I could take screencaps of real life.
My brain pretty much shut down after that. Other conversation tidbits I recall are:
1. Stephen going to a Mongolian Barbecue restaurant in the States. Stephen falsely called it a "Mongolian Grill" but I wasn't about to correct him. He said he was carded there, which meant a waiter asked to see his ID since you have to be over 21 to buy alcohol. Stephen thought the waiter was joking and he did an impersonation of him complete with American accent: "No really, I need to see some identification, sir."
2. Stephen told the story about a pompous don who was dining with a bunch of other dons. The don was lusting after some young student and said that the boy had a magnificent (and then a waiter approached the table) C-O-C-K. Stephen had told that story before, I think in The Hippopotamus and In the Library and in some other interview.
3. Jimmy Carr came over. Oh, spoiler alert for guests. He and some other friend of Stephen's had similar watches. Jimmy's was two minutes fast. Stephen flashed us his watch, which was gold. During this exchange, I discreetly covered my cheap, plastic $10 watch.
4. Oh, Stephen asked me where I was staying. I told him the London Elizabeth by Hyde Park, near Lancaster Gate Station. Room 116. He never stopped by He also asked how I was finding London, and I truthfully told him (it being my first full day there) that it was befuddling. I didn't for one second believe those "Look Left" signs at crosswalks because it goes against half a lifetime of motorist training and safety. But they usually know what they're talking about.
5. I told Stephen he was a fast clothes changer because he was sprucely dressed for the show and by the time we were in the Green Room, he had changed. Everyone else wore the same clothes.
Stephen thanked me again for the American bear. I then called it an Abearican and he seemed to like that. He shook my hand again and again I barely (bearly) felt anything. He went on his merry way and I suffered heart attack # 2 through 547. Sadly, no photos of him.
John Lloyd, John Mitchinson, Alan and a couple of the elves signed my Book of General Ignorance. I talked to Sean Lock (oops another spoiler alert) briefly. He said during the show that he can't wear contact lenses because they make him gag. I have a similar problem.
So, that's it! If you made it this far, take the rest of the day off. You deserve a break.
I also Green Roomed the following night, but the less said about that the better. Stephen came in and I hoped he'd remember me (even wore a pink shirt as a subliminal reminder), but he found someone more interesting and spent half an hour in vigorous conversation with him. Couldn't quite hear what they were saying because it's rude to eavesdrop. Despite my best efforts. So I just stood behind him and compared how much bigger his feet are to mine. Pathetic, I know. And yes, Sarah, it was an EPIC FAIL. Social situations, especially ones where I don't really know anybody, are not my thing at all. I really gave myself a mental lambasting for being socially inept. I had brought a copy of Paperweight and wondered when the best moment would be to have Stephen sign it. I concluded that moment would be only if Stephen looked me square in the eyes and asked if he could sign it for me. Of course that never happened. But fear not! James, one of the elves whom I was talking to (when I did find the courage to speak) offered to have Stephen sign it for me and then post it back to me in the states.
HURRAH TO JAMES!
I don't know if Mr. Lloyd noticed it but when I shook his hand for the last time, I released a tiny sob. If it wasn't for him, I know, absolutely 100% know that I would have never given Stephen his bear. See Exhibit 1: Paperweight. Of course to him, it was nothing more than, "Oh, you want to meet my friend? No problem." To me, it meant heaven.
HURRAH TO JOHN LLOYD!
HURRAH TO STEPHEN FOR TOLERATING FANDOM BRIBERY!
I guess that's it again.
I think of myself as someone who is filled with love, whose only purpose in life was to achieve love. - Stephen Fry