Here’s a quick Valentine’s Day story about doing things that scare you, and celeb sightings, and how to use an iPhone.
Jan 3, 2016: Dallas, TX
The amazing Christina Forsyth-now-Mally had just gotten married in Tulsa, OK and I’m flying the last leg of the return trip from Dallas to LA. I walk on the plane and notice a guy in First Class who looks about my age. Where do I know this guy from? High school? College? Work or church sometime?
Wait a second, I don’t know him, I just recognize him. Because I’ve seen him somewhere…on TV maybe? Yes…wait a second…oh no.
This guy was on the Bachelorette.
I haven’t gotten into the show, since the premise is a bit painful to me, but I distinctly remember seeing two episodes last Fall that this guy was definitely part of. So I Google “recent Bachelorette guys” which (surprisingly) confirms: this is Sean from the most recent season of The Bachelorette. I read up on him super fast before we have to turn off our devices and learn this guy didn’t just vie for the Bachelorette’s heart, he actually WON. Or whatever they call it. He won love and an engagement (I think? Is that how it all ends?) from a girl he apparently fell in love with while competing against a bunch of bros for her affection. You know, as you do. Modern love story.
And I would have just gone right along with my normal life except for a few intervening factors:
1. I’d just had a conversation the past week about celebrity sightings and the importance of seizing the moment, lamenting the fact that I had seen Brittany Snow in New York and not said hi (a celeb I actually DO care about, thanks to her pivotal role in Pitch Perfect, obviously).
2. Even though I’m not into the Bachelorette, I know many people that are. And I relished the idea of being able to say “YEAH, I MET ONE OF THOSE GUYS.” Super cool.
3. I’d just gotten this book for Christmas AND:
4. I was terrified of the idea of talking with this guy. Because he is (niche) famous and handsome. Enough said.
So that sealed it. I should probably go up to this guy and talk to him. Probably. Maybe take a picture or something to show my friends.
Thinking in my cramped seat at 44C, I thought, you know what would REALLY be awesome, just to make it more ridiculous of a moment?
If I had a rose.
Because, that’s what they do on the Bachelorette!! So I could be on theme, and spoof the show at the same time?! Sweet.
I’m thinking through whether I could really get up the nerve to go talk to America’s One Time Most eligible Bachelor. Then I look down to the seat next to me.
Oh God. I am doing this. Ugh.
Passenger neighbor’s asleep next to me. But you get it, you can’t frickin meet the Bachelor without a rose. (Yes, you can. You can also stay seated. Ah well.)
Neighbor is pretty asleep. At least, those eyes are CLOSED. So, watching her for ANY sign of movement I slowly start sliding one single rose out of the bouquet, an inch or so at a time. I’d forgotten that there’s a 3rdperson in our row. And she is most definitely NOT asleep. Her gaze is equally confusion, judgment and indifference. So I smile at her pointedly to say, ‘don’t worry about it, this is normal, and we also know you’re not gonna stop me.’ (I took Psych 101, I know about the Bystander Effect – RIP Kitty Genovese, I hope your story really is just an urban legend)
The rose is nearly halfway out of the bouquet when passenger neighbor wakes up. With me reaching over her lap, stealing one of her flowers.
“Hi! Sorry, I know this will seem really random and weird, but is there any way I can please, please borrow this rose for just a couple minutes so I can go take a picture with it? I promise I’ll bring it back to you and explain it all. I’ll be right back.”
I think she was probably too weirded out or stupefied or just groggy to do anything besides just confusedly nod yes.
So, red rose acquired, I walk into the next cabin, on the heels of a flight attendant, and arrive at the First Class curtain which separates all us commoners from, you know, the Minor Celebs. I’ve made it this far, and I have a ROSE on me, so I have to just unvelcro the curtain and barge purposefully into First Class like I belong there and am not about to ambush one of the passengers.
He’s sitting in the nearest row, headphones on. I walk up and stop in front of him, nervously smiling. He slides his headphones off (Beats by dre) since it’s clear I’ve come to say hi.
“Hey, uh, are you Sean by any chance?”
He ever so faintly smiles and confirms.
“Like Sean from the Bachelorette?”
#$%^, we already knew that, why did I ask that?! Trust me, you get a little anxious when you’re stalking one of America’s most eligible guys.
“Well, I’m really glad you won, you seemed like a good guy. My friends and I definitely thought you were the best.” (Unfortunately that’s a lie: I have had zero conversations with friends about this guy. Truer statement: “I actually have a lot of concerns about your show, but my friends who don’t share these concerns seemed to think you were hot and/or a relatively solid guy inasmuch as anyone can tell from watching a heavily edited snippet of your life.”)
“Yeah, thanks.” 🙂 I’m sure he wonders when this encounter’s gonna end.
“So, I’m sure you get this all the time, but is there any way I could take a quick picture with you?”
“Aw, could we?!? I thought you’d never ask.”
No, of course he doesn’t say that. He half smiles again, says, “sure” – and then I have to drop the next bomb.
“Also, I know this is super crazy, but the lady next to me literally had a bunch of red roses, so I had to bring one because I thought that was just too hilarious of a coincidence. You know?”
No, he doesn’t know. He doesn’t seem to think it’s as hilarious, he doesn’t really react at all, really. Which is when it’s clear I am NAILING this interaction. But he still obliges the photo, so I take a quick selfie with me, Sean the Bachelorette winner, and my pilfered rose.
And this is when I learn that there’s no flash on a selfie, and they keep First Class really dark.
We both can see that the picture didn’t really turn out. One of us is obviously bummed and one of us probably just wishes he could go back in time and secure that first class partition with something better than Velcro.
We’re pot committed, as they say. So:
“Is there any chance I can take one more?” So I turn the flash on, and take another selfie. Except I switched the camera around (you try talking to this guy it is nervewracking!) – so I take a really well-lit photo of…the First Class wall.
“Dammit. Uh, um..okay, how about ONE more?”
Oh God, PLEASE let me get back to my life, weird girl.
I take a 3rd picture, which is equally dark and equally bad, but at this point it’s time to get a move on.
“Thank you so much. I’m sorry to bother you, I’m sure you must get this all this time.”
“Yeah, I kinda do.”
“Yeah, I’m sure. Well… good luck with the wedding and everything. Take care!”
And I nearly run back to my seat.
“Thank you so much for letting me borrow this. So, uh…do you watch the Bachelorette? I’m not exactly a fan, but the guy who won is sitting in First Class. And I just thought it would be really awesome to take a picture with him with a rose, like the show. ”
Surprisingly, this seems totally reasonable to her and she’s visibly happy that her rose could be put to good use.
I can’t lie, I sat there feeling pretty good even though I’d been a bit of a spaz in front of the most desirable men my age in the country. It was incredibly nerve-wracking and awkward, but totally worth it just to know I could. I could do it. And survive.
(Sean, if you’re reading this because you decided to stalk me BACK, I’m sorry I ambushed you like that. I know it happens all the time, but still – I get that it’s not really good celeb protocol to interrupt their lives for our own sake. Maybe some would argue that you opened yourself up to this when you decided to go on the Bachelor in the first place, but regardless, thanks for being cool about it. Hope you and K have a long happy life together and that the 15 minutes of fame passes soon so you don’t have to sit through many more of these moments.)
Happy Valentine’s day, everyone, no matter if your day was awkward, bliss or whatever in between. All I can say from any of this is, whatever it is that could scare you in your current romantic situation, if you embrace that fear and get closer to it…well, you might end up like this. And YOU can decide whether that’s a good thing or not. 🙂