I’m not sure what constitutes as a stalker. I’ve had a couple encounters with people who could potentially count as stalkers and definitely qualify as people that I don’t know who come see my shows. It’s very possible that my potential stalkers will read this blog post if they are, indeed, stalkers (or good ones anyway). The question is: does that freak me out? Or do I secretly love it? Some combination of the two?
Let us return to last spring during the rehearsal period of The Visit. A rando with but three friends in common friend requests me on Facebook. Now, normally, I would not accept such a request, but I noticed that we was working as the apprentice to a very talented, Tony Award winning set designer. So his request was granted. He began messaging me very shortly after and seemed to evade the “Do I know you?” questions and their cousins “Have we met?” and “How did you find my Facebook?” After a few cordial conversations, I began to stop responding.
Now, it is entirely possible that I was warned of the following events. The pudgy, late-20s mystery man could very well have mentioned “I would love to come to your show!” But normally when people with whom I have no relationship express interest in my extracurricular activities, I take it with about the same amount of sincerity as running across a freshman year suite-mate who says we should “totally catch up over coffee soon!” But regardless of whether or not he tried to prep me, it happened. This potential stalker showed up at an 11pm performance of my student theatre production on a Friday night. I saw him after the show and evaded him long enough to step into another room, refer to my Facebook mobile app and check his name. After taking a deep breath and walking back into the lobby, I confronted him and was met with an entirely too friendly embrace. While we talked about god knows what, I scanned the room for anyone who could save me from this conundrum.
Just as he began to ask if I had plans for the rest of the night (ick!), my good friend Erin (of the worst trends of 2012 post) descended like an Angel from Heaven. She looked rather distraught and frantically slopped together some disparate sentences about upsetting text messages from Ryan, a recent graduate who was my cast mate in a show that Erin directed. Genuinely concerned, but mostly relieved, I asked Erin if she wanted to step into another room, since she looked like she was about to cry. I apologized to the stalker and Erin took me by the wrist to the nearest door.
What happened next lives on as one of the best moments of my life. The instant the door handle clicked closed, Erin spun around with the most offended look I’ve ever seen and said something to the effect of: “Who the hell is that old, fat guy and WHY THE FUCK is he flirting with you?” I briefly summarized the stalker story which outraged her. She took it upon herself to go into the lobby and publicly whisk me away and refused to leave my side when the guy came back up to talk to me. She should add cock blocking to her special skills. Not that the guy was getting anywhere, but believe me, Erin’s performance was stellar.
Anyway, I never talked to the guy again. But, on two occasions over the summer, I had been sitting on the El texting or tweeting or doodle jumping to look up across the train to see this guy sitting there looking at me. Both times were jarring, but luckily the first time I was with a group of friends and the second time I was almost at my stop.
This man, however, was not my only stalker. In fact, I am sitting a table decorated with a copy of The Taming of the Shrew, some napkins, and a vase with flowers from my new pair of stalkers. At this point, my new stalkers have attended several of my opening night performances, even though I have never seen them outside the context of a lobby after a show. These stalkers are a gay couple. Suffice it to say that there is a very large age difference between the two. The one who communicates me (surprise surprise) is the older one. The reason these potential stalkers got in contact with me is partially my fault. The older one messaged me on a gay chat mobile app that I shall elect not to specify. Now, normally I do not respond to messages from users of a certain age, but this guy had not specified that information and his profile had no photo. By the time I realized who this person was, I had already exchanged phone numbers with him. A fatal mistake that I have not made since.
Anyway, the man has since found my twitter account, and I would be surprised if he has not read this blog. (If you’re reading this now, hey!) Sometimes I will tweet something angsty and I will immediately receive a text from him attempting to cheer me up. Now, I don’t think I mind having a mild, innocuous stalker, but this was a little too much for me, which I expressed to him.
On one of my openings, which he always attends with his partner, he brought a little package of baked goods and other treats. After offering a cookie to a cast mate to test if they were poisoned, I gladly ate them all that night, because that shit was delicious. A few hours before opening night of My Fair Lady (which had a fantastic closing weekend!), I received a text saying that he and his partner would be in the audience that night. I frantically called my mother who was mere minutes from my apartment in attempt to explain the situation and instructing her that under NO circumstances is she allowed to intervene or approach us if they come up to me. The last thing I need is my stalkers meeting my mother. They have never really made me feel afraid, but still. Boundaries.
Anyway, after making the rounds through the opening night lobby and keeping track of the couples’ distance from me, they approached me from behind and called my name. I turned around to see a bunch of flowers extended towards my face. Now, of all the friends and family in the audience, my mother did not buy me flowers, and my aunt did not buy me flowers, and my roommates did not buy me flowers, but my stalkers did. So I can’t say I was upset by that. Out of the corner of my eye I saw my mother standing at most ten feet away and I ever so subtly shook my head to prevent her from coming any closer. After hugging each of them, I had a short, cordial conversation with the couple (or really just the older one, the younger one never speaks to me or makes direct eye contact…). I made some excuse for having to return to the dressing room, thanked them for coming, and the older one kissed me on the cheek and I watched them exit the lobby. I turned, holding the bouquet of shame, to see my mother’s horrified expression. My aunt had been kept blissfully ignorant of the situation, thank god, but when she went to the bathroom, my mother expressed a number of concerns that I did my best to mitigate.
But I have to wonder about some of the things my mom brought up. Who are these people? Is this acceptable behavior? Am I in any danger? But, most of all, how do I feel about this? I would definitely say that I do not go out of my way to encourage this behavior. I do not really hold conversations with these people until I seem them in person. But, I suppose I haven’t told them not to come. Even though I find this situation atypical, even creepy at times, I have to admit that it is a confidence boost in a way. Having a stalker is a strange sort of compliment. These people paid $25 a ticket to see me in a show where I have three (albiet incredible) lines as Selsey Man. I feel awkward interacting with them, because I truly don’t know who they are. But, to their credit, they are pretty nice. In a possibly sad, sickening way, I feel trendy and a little important having these people follow me around in a non-threatening way.
If nothing else, these flowers are really brightening up the living room of The Smokehouse.
Stay hot and keep it messy,