The Rise and Fall of My First Celebrity Crush
My friends have always been the type of people to form attachments to celebrities. In fifth grade, when my friend Natalie would tell stories of her fantasies about Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran, I would fake a similar attachment to Mags of A-ha fame. I was living a lie.
In college, I made friends with women who had similar feelings for Anthony Keidis, Colin Firth, Kevin Costner and Jack Nicholson and, still, I was not able to relate. Oh sure, I would pretend to have a thing for Ben Kingsley, but I wasn't really fooling anyone. I just thought he was a good actor. When it came down to it, there wasn't a single celebrity whose career I followed breathlessly.
After college, I moved to New York City. In the process of trying to learn to be less uptight, my friend Mike, who was so sure that I didn't "have it in me" (what is "it" anyway?), bet me that if I would do stand up comedy, he would run the New York City Marathon. This dare stuck with me in the back of my mind. In the spring of 2003, I was working with a team from Good Counsel Academy, designing the Sister Constance Conroy Math and Science Pavilion (never realized). We were planning a big fundraiser for the addition and I feared that I might have to stand up in front of a bunch of nuns to present my ideas, so I decided to take a public speaking class. In looking for one, I came across the Gotham Comedy Club stand-up comedy classes and remembered Mike's dare. I signed up and began the class that would alter my destiny.
As part of my stand-up studies, I rented numerous videos of stand-up comics to prepare for my performance. After four or five trips to Tower Video, I asked for a recommendation since I had rented videos of all the comics I was familiar with already. The guy at Tower Video pointed me towards the video that would finally make the plight of my childhood and college friends clear to me. Had I been listening, I would have heard angels singing as I rushed home with my little treasure and popped Glorious into my DVD player. The moment Eddie Izzard walked on screen and began speaking, my heart began to soar. He was it! The be-all-end-all of celebrities. It didn't matter that I had never heard of him before--he was everything one would ever want in a celebrity. He was intelligent, funny, attractive, British, and his material had the intelligence I had never heard in stand-up comedy before.
The following day, I rushed into work early, so that I could scour the internet for every article I could get my hands on about him. I read jealously about women who had "known" him and devoured the stories about the humble beginnings of his career. I very quickly learned that he was not like other men in many ways, including being a transvestite. This did not change my feelings about him in any way--in fact, it added to his mystique. I pored over article after article about him and joined his fan club at EddieIzzard.com before moving on to ebay to look for Eddie related paraphernalia. I paged though ebay finding latch hook rugs with Eddie's image on them and lighters with pictures of him in a tutu before landing on, bidding and winning a set of 7 of his videos.
I then went onto Amazon.com and ordered audio copies of four of his shows (all of which I had just ordered the videos of as well, so I could compare the performances). I started renting the movies he'd made appearances in and checking his website daily to see what he was up to. I would skip out of work midday to go home and catch him on The View or whatever show he was gracing with his presence. I signed up for The New York Times alerts to let me know when his name made it into the paper. Only a week after I first heard of him, I knew his material inside out and quickly spotted when a guy was using an Eddie Izzard bit to hit on me.
My New York Times seeker alerted me to Eddie's involvement in a panel for the American Theater Wing 31st Annual Spring Seminar on "Working in the Theatre". I cut out of work at noon that day to get in line for the 2 PM event. Waiting to get in, I chatted nervously with my neighbors in line, swapping stories of our love for Eddie, not admitting that my love was a mere two weeks old. We angrily watched a few people cut in line and were very vocal about it, fearing the line would be cut off right in front of us. Luckily, we made the cut, so I rushed in to get the seat with the best view possible of the stage. The audience consisted of myself, 5 or 6 students, and a bunch of elderly people. I sprang to my feel in applause when the panel came out: Alec Baldwin, Sutton Foster, Clare Higgins, Brian Stokes Mitchell, John Turturro, Pia Lindstrom (moderator) and, my reason for being out of the office at 2 PM on a Thursday, Eddie Izzard. I listened intently whenever Eddie spoke up and watched him even when he sat there politely watching the other actors. The time passed far too quickly, and the audience began to file into the hall, with the actors staying on stage. I stepped out of the way of the exiting masses and waited for the actors to come out. As Alec Baldwin came through, he slowed in front of me and made eye contact- I waved him on. It wasn't his autograph I was after.
When Eddie finally emerged from the studio, he whisked past me without slowing down. "Hey, ummm, Mr. Izzard!", I called out, suddenly realizing that I had never heard his last name said out loud and might be pronouncing it wrong. He turned and faced me. He was so manly and handsome standing there. I had poorly planned the moment, though, so I fumbled in my bag a pulled out some papers and handed them to him, "Could you sign this?" He smiled and signed the paper and handed it back to me. I looked down to see that I had handed him a bathroom design I had been working on and his name was sprawled across the toilet. I didn't want him to go, not just yet. I made some reference to one or two of his routines and may have even let the words "biggest fan" slip from my lips. I told him I'd be seeing him that night (he was then starring on Broadway as Bri in A Day in the Death of Joe Egg) and he asked "where" to which I intelligently answered, "In the cheap seats" or something equally endearing. I handed him my business card and said, "If you ever need an architect." And he smiled and walked off. Unfortunately, not the beginning of a beautiful new relationship, but it had me walking on air nonetheless.
For the next few months, I followed his career very closely, repeatedly checking his website for appearances. When he started his stand-up comedy tour a few months later, I was online the moment tickets went on sale. After 15 minutes of repeatedly trying to get the site to acknowledge me, I was still ticketless, so I grabbed my bag, jumped in a cab and went straight to the theater. Despite the long line, I managed to get tickets to two performances.
I went to both shows and carefully noted the differences in them. I loved how about 25% of his show was "winging it". His spontaneity made him even more loveable. I went home both nights with visions in my head of meeting him in a much more glamorous fashion than the last time and imagined we'd slowly fall in love with each other. I pictured introducing him to my parents and wondered whether he's be wearing a dress or more "blokey" threads. Would my family accept him? How would my friends react? Which of us would get to wear the wedding dress?
Time went on. I still often watched his DVDs and read about him, but the intensity wore off. I stopped rushing home from work to catch his appearances and missed a few feature stories online. My love had faded. He hadn't done anything to deserve it, I suppose, but reality had finally come crashing in, and I fell in love with a real man. One who loves me back. After about two years, I felt like he was an ex who I was trying to stay friendly with and be supportive of. I went to two more performances last year (of the same show) and was able to be a little more objective- yes, he did seem to be on speed for the first one, but his performance the next night was great. I didn't find myself lingering outside the theatre afterwards hoping he'd recognize me from our brief encounter two years before.
Now it's been three years since the dawn of the crush that had me smitten with a stand-up comic from Yemen, and the crush is gone. Well, mostly. If he and I were to meet and he tried to steal me away from my beau, I'd be able to turn him down now. I think.
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