My pre-teen fantasy: Attending a Duran Duran show in say, London, drinking champagne, and enjoying the whole experience with someone like Ricky Schroeder. Beloved band+cosmopolitan city+cocktail+cute celebrity=The stuff of dreams. It took about 15 years, but it all came true. Of course the variables changed over the years. I had a Belle and Sebastian show in New York, a whiskey sour in a plastic cup, and...oh yes, one Henry Thomas as a delightful accompaniment. Could life possibly get any sweeter?
Well, let's see. It was November 1, 1998, a date that will live in infamy. I woke up at 1:00 PM on Sunday feeling like I was dying. I was suffering from a nice combination of head cold and a massive Halloween hangover. Getting dressed didn't even cross my mind until 5:00 PM. But I forced myself to get it together since I'd bought what I considered to be an expensive ticket to see Belle and Sebastian (yes, I'm a lover of fey pop) for that evening and wasting money is just something that's intolerable to me.
Once I got out the door, I wondered if I'd made the wisest choice. At least three times along the way I thought to myself, "I'm just going to go back home to bed." It was freezing out, there were three freakin' subways to take, and I felt all woozy like I was going to faint. But at the same time it all seemed a bit dreamlike too, and I figured that would lend itself well to the whole B&S experience.
I intentionally left late, thinking I'd get there closer to the main act and avoid having to stand for too long. But when I walked in the opening band (Containe, if you care to know) was still playing and the place was pretty packed. Deciding where to position myself was tough and I didn't want to be in the bar because I'd made a vow not to drink since I felt like crap, and I didn't have the money, and besides I didn't get the necessary green wristband at the door.
I figured the main floor was the place to be and kind of squeezed myself in near the back amongst all these crazy guys in hipster Jewish gear. I'm still getting used to seeing boys wearing personalized yarmulkes with stuff like flying saucers and kooky fonts spelling their names. Only in New York, as they say.
I was feeling a little lost and light-headed and really wishing I had a drink (and the presence of my friend who said she'd show up). Containe kept messing up, but no one was paying attention to them anyway because everyone was busy checking each other out and trying to out-cute each other.
Then this guy in front of me, wearing a pea coat turned around and my entire body went limp. It couldn't be. I thought I was seeing things. Someone who looked an awful lot like Henry freakin' Thomas was 10 ft. away from me and heading in my direction. It was surreal, like "I know that face" and I got all weak (well, weaker) as if the wind had been knocked out of me. In the half second I had before he got to me, a million things raced through my mind, but I had to act fast (I don't know why I thought that, I mean he was obviously there to see the band and wouldn't be leaving any time soon). My hand shot out and touched his arm. I asked, "Are you Henry Thomas?" He looked a little frightened and answered, "Yes." I got up close to his ear (it was noisy) and said, "I'm Krista Garcia" and was ready to do my spiel about you know, I do that zine "The Scaredy-cat Stalker" and add some fancy explaining, but all I had to say was my name and he did this arm around my back/hug thing which was just too much. I mean, you don't hug your stalker!
I can't really remember what was said after that because I was verging on a panic attack and things were flying out of my mouth and I wasn't listening well at all. A smart person would've been paying extreme attention and filing away every subtle nuance for future reference, but I had been caught off guard and couldn't focus properly. Well, I do remember looking him up and down and commenting, "Very Moby Dick" (he was wearing the pea coat, remember?), which made him laugh. He asked if I wanted a drink and I got all freaked out because I didn't have one of those stupid wrist bands (the things I worry about). Did I ever need a drink. My nerves were shot and my plan to shun alcohol immediately went out the window. While I was waiting for him to come back I started getting nervous and shaky. I never thought I'd fall victim to such star-struck behavior. But there I was, giddy as a schoolgirl. It was unbelievable. My arms and legs were all jelly and I was like "please don't pass out" and tried to compose myself before he got back.
If this state of mind was due to my illness, my cough medicine, my hangover, or simply Henry's presence, I'll never know. I must have looked crazy as I felt because when Henry came back, he said something like, "Are you O.K.?" Or maybe he was so full of himself that he just assumed I was so awed that I wouldn't be O.K. Usually, I can be pretty chatty and personable if I feel like it, but I couldn't get in that mode. My throat clenched up and I got all stiff. Everyone was standing shoulder to shoulder, but I was doing everything in my power to keep my arm from brushing his. First impressions are everything, you know, and I was being polite for once in my life.
It's hard when you know so much about a stranger. What do you say? I wasn't sure what was appropriate banter (wait 'til the next installment, if it's pure inappropriateness you crave). I asked him if he was scared to stand next to his stalker and he had the audacity to say that he was desensitized by now. Damn, part of me wanted there to be fear in his heart.
He was exactly how I figured he'd be: serious and dorky. He totally had this jock/frat-boy quality that wasn't super overt, but definitely existed and that I wouldn't tolerate in anyone except for him. Like he'd be the quiet, introspective guy in the fraternity, the one who'd listen to "cool" music, you know, like Dave Mathews Band, but could still party with the best of them. He'd say, "Hey guys, that's not cool" when his frat brothers were gang-raping their fifth freshman of the evening, but he'd still watch (A boy has needs, but he'd be more of a one-on-one date-raper).
Now, I don't know how familiar you are with Belle and Sebastian, so here's the score. They're sort of a folky, poppy, fey Scottish band with cellos and flutes and all that instrumental crap. Song topics include track stars, terry underwear, and girls who dream about horses and wear orthopedic shoes, O.K.? Nerdy glasses, cardigan sweaters and childish barrettes would not be an uncommon sight at a B&S gathering. Even I can only stomach so much (and I eat this shit up).
But to the point. After each song when everyone was politely clapping, Henry would go all wild and do this total loud jock, "Whooo!!!" I think you know what I mean. Oh my god, I was so embarrassed. Like if this was a first date, I'd have already written this guy off. But Jesus Christ, it was Henry Thomas and I knew he'd be like that, and that's why I love him so, and he could whoop all he wanted because that's my boy. So, I was cringing inside, but I did notice about two or three other people doing the same war cry.
The funny thing is that ages ago a girl from San Antonio wrote me about Henry showing up at a Halloween party, slamming a six-pack of Guinness on a table and "in a dumb jock party tone" yelling, "Guinness!!" I was so disturbed by that, that I actually e-mailed him about it and his exact words were, "Dumb jock party tone? Never. Guinness? Maybe." Well, the proof is in the pudding and now I completely believe that he did, indeed, yell "Guinness."
Henry started going off about how he couldn't stand this guy in salmon who was dancing in front of us. I can't remember if he said "can't stand" or "hate," but either way he made it clear that this guy annoyed him. It was so strange because I get completely aggro about little things and loathe people for no good reason and this seems perfectly reasonable to me, but having some straight-laced guy going off about wanting to hit someone (at least I think he said something about smacking, hitting, or punching the guy. All I know is that I replied by saying we could tag-team him) seems almost creepy. This guy was all faggy and hopping around in a yarmulke and I was secretly joking to myself, "Oh my god, Henry Thomas is a total racist homophobe" (I'd already called him an anti-Semite on this radio thing I did with him).
I jest, but I do wonder a bit about him. I almost shit myself when I saw his e-mail nickname. I can't even type it without chuckling. O.K., it's CelticUnity@I'mtoorespectfultogiveoutthefulladdress.com. (The night I found that out, I went "cosmic bowling" [you know, with fog machines, black lights, and '80s music] and me and my friends named our team, "Celtic Unity." It was a hoot even though we lost miserably. The only strike I got was when "Tainted Love" came on and I screamed, "Henry, this one's for you!") But the reason that moniker unnerved me was that my sister who lives in England informed me that over there, Celtic Unity is like a white pride thing. Whoo boy.
Supposedly, the reason Henry was all irked was because this guy was being stupid in line earlier and was asking his friends if they could dress from any period in history, what would it be. And that's the kind of thing that would totally bug me too, but Henry's the one who's the goddamn history buff! The kid supposedly said something about "My Fair Lady" and got the century wrong. I think Henry was more annoyed that he got the century wrong than that he was initiating an asinine line of conversation.
Earlier, Henry was telling me about how he's on the Belle and Sebastian mailing list (I am too) as well as a Welsh language one. History freak who?! The absolute icing on the cake was when he said, "That guy probably goes home and plays D&D." In my entire life I've never experienced a bigger case of the pot calling the kettle black (and I use that saying an awful lot). I totally called him on it, "I thought you were the D&D aficionado." He kind of grinned and didn't really say anything. Ah...child-stars.
We hung-out right up until the end of the show even though early on I got all shaky confidence-wise and blurted out, "Just because you bought me a drink doesn't mean you have to stand next to me all evening" (I hate it when I get like that). Afterwards, we ended up at the bar where he attempted to buy me another drink, but the bar was closing (it was only about 11:30--strange for the city that supposedly never sleeps).
We chit-chatted a bit (I did manage to work pedophilia into the conversation, which didn't sit too well with him. It was one of the few moments where I felt remotely normal and like myself. Being myself is often trouble--let this serve as foreshadowing) and it turned out that he was in town for three weeks doing some film. I envisioned another shared evening, but didn't dare suggest the idea. As his stalker, it just didn't seem right.
All I could think about was how I could kick myself for not having a camera on me and how no one would ever believe this and how random this all was and maybe my life was changing for the better and that I should just be happy with even running into him. But somehow, just meeting him wasn't sufficient. Nothing's ever enough for me. It's insane, a few short years ago I would've never even fathomed such a fateful meet-up. I should've been on cloud nine. I'd been writing about and obsessing over this guy for almost four years--that's a long time. Sometimes I honestly worry about my sanity.
Luckily, he mentioned that we should get together while he was in town. I feared this was just drunk talk. That boy can sure suck them down and his face was certainly rosier than it was at the beginning of the evening (but he had quit smoking in March, which was brought to my attention as "Did you hear that I quit smoking?" Like how the hell would I hear something like that?! He gives my detective abilities too much credit).
We took off, I was a bit tipsy and I'm assuming the same for him since he stumbled and tripped on a curb. He was going to his corporate apartment in Battery Park. I was heading on my long journey to Queens. Ah, but he asked for my number. He even put it in his cell phone (I wonder if it's still there) and remembered that it was Krista with a K (I'm very particular about that). I didn't dare ask for his number, but made a point of telling him harshly what ill fate would befall him if he dissed me. He told me that he knew better than that. Of course he couldn't cross his stalker. Everyone knows that even with the scaredy-cat variety, there is potential hell to pay.
I was pinching myself. How much good could happen to one person in one night? All I could think of was how moving to New York was a smart move after all (I'd been having my doubts). Could my life's work really be near completion? And this wasn't even the end. There was more to look forward to. More Henry-filled moments were just a mere phone call away. We were in the same city, walking the same streets, breathing the same air. O.K., it wasn't as dreamy as all that. I was in a state of shock, but I still viewed him as just some guy (and not even one I'd normally even give the time of day to).
For once, I didn't even mind the long ride home. As I was waiting for the subway, this crazy, rag-tag, mildly homeless-looking, threesome wandered in. I couldn't figure them out. There were two women wearing fur coats, sunglasses, and too much make-up. They were in a frenzy and scolding the man for taking off too soon. He'd missed Brad Pitt, Gloria Estefan, and a handful of other celebrities who have since slipped my mind. The ladies had finagled photos with them and were very proud. I chuckled to myself. Maybe they had their silly pictures, but I had oh so much more.
And thus, began the waiting...