Fact: I am 47 years old – yes, fucking 47 (how did that happen?) ! I am also happily married and have two sons aged 18 and 20. I don’t seem to be menopausal just yet. I am, however, showing significant signs of a classic, stereotypical ‘mid-life crisis’.
Fact: Tim Minchin is 34 years old. He is a married man with two young kids and an absolutely lovely wife, Sarah. He’s a good looking, sexy fella, I grant you, with or without the eye-liner (albeit, now that he’s in his mid-30s, perhaps not quite as beautifully thin as he was a year or two ago - (judging from Youtube clips etc). He’s also – more to the point – very talented and clever and funny and quite rude. He’s a great singer and (although piano solos don’t normally float my boat) a terrific musician.
Now , it’s all very well liking musicians or comedians – that’s nothing special. But this is just embarrassing! I don’t just like him – I’ve become a silly fan-girl, and it’s just ridiculous! I can laugh at myself, but it doesn’t seem to prevent it.
Actually, last week I had begun to realise it was wearing off – and I was quite relieved, to be honest. But then, sod’s law, I just had to go to the Hay Festival, didn’t I , (well, I already had the ticket) to see said Mr Minchin perform live for the first time? Oh yeah, and queue up for a photo and autograph afterwards. No biggie – after all, I’d met him before and had a reasonably normal conversation with him, in a group context, at the Australian film festival. But hang on a minute – even on that occasion, I had been caught by the poor man staring at him (and he said ‘Hi’, to break into my stupor, and I felt a bit embarrassed, cos I hadn’t realised what I’d been doing). But after that awkward beginning it had been ok – he complimented me on my embroidered coat, and later on I was able to ask him about his part in the film and the script-writing aspect in a sensible, normal way. It was lovely. So, no biggie, then?
It was SO MUCH WORSE THIS TIME!!! I was near the front of the queue, with my two friends. He was trying to move along quite swiftly, due to the size of the queue – and I was one of the easier ones to move along, cos I couldn’t actually speak. He said ‘Hi’ and I said nothing, or maybe I said ‘Hi’ back, I’m not sure – but that’s about it: classic star-struck tongue-tied’ness’, and shaking so much I couldn’t even press the button on the camera for my friend’s photo. And so, after a short pause, he followed ‘Hi’ with ‘Bye’, and people around laughed at that. I felt awful – in fact I nearly burst into tears. He wasn’t being mean, or making fun of me as such; I can imagine it must be quite weird for him when people behave like I did – and I was just so frustrated to find myself so completely struck dumb like that. Mind you, I did get a lovely photo with him (at least, he looks lovely while I look very VERY happy to the point of slight craziness).
But my naughty little secret – the bit that made the awkwardness pale into insignificance - is the thrill I got from having my arm around him, because my right hand was resting on his waist, and I had that hyper-awareness ‘in the moment’ experience of feeling the sensation of his flesh beneath his black tee shirt. (No, not a love handle – and I didn’t squeeze or fondle or even stroke – I just rested my fingers there for that split second while the photo was being taken.) Oh the sexual frisson! I am still keeping the charge of that moment stored in my sensory-memory-battery.
But what do I do? I am torn. On the one hand, feeling this tingly girly crush is quite a high – it’s certainly drug-like. On the other, I would much prefer to get my feet back on the ground and stop feeling so silly. I don’t want to stop liking the man and his work , nor do I intend to go ‘cold turkey’ and avoid seeing him live again (in fact, I already have tickets for another appearance), but the fizzly, sizzly stuff is quite embarrassing and wearing. After all, I still like U2, but the intense, hyped-up phase wore off a couple of months after going to their live concerts for the first time last summer. But in that case, the transition back to normality was probably helped by no longer finding Bono in the least bit sexy, due (in no small part) to his horrible short haircut. (I may have had more trouble if I’d seen the Bono incarnation of the previous tour, cos he looked a lot more fanciable then - in my view anyway.)
Tim, unlike Bono, IS sexy (the forbidden word on the Angry (Feet) Forum for Minchin fans) – but I can’t even have a decent sexual fantasy about him – what with him being happily married – and to such a lovely woman too. (I’m very moral in my fantasies – no adultery allowed). So, instead, I’m just living in hope of a sex-dream, where morality wouldn’t be such an inhibition: the kind of sexual dream that seems so real you almost have an orgasm while you’re asleep! I’ve had that kind before, featuring the oddest of people, but they don’t ‘come’ to order, unfortunately.
Now, before you get all judgemental, Tim Minchin knows full well that he deploys his sexual attractiveness in his stage persona. He has his cake and he eats it too, with his self-aware, self-mocking material. But while he may feign displeasure at the sight of his own bare chest in Canvas Bags, he also - in one particular routine (on the So Fucking Rock DVD I think)- likens his rambling preamble with the audience to bumping his erect cock against the audience’s collective metaphorical buttocks… well! Ok, Tim, you just planted that image in my head, so now I’m thinking very specifically about your penis... Lots of women, from underage teenagers to ageing biddies like me, all thinking about your cock – happy now?
And, ok, so he didn’t do that bit at Hay – but what with singing or talking about inflatable sex-dolls, liking boobs, fucking like rabbits etc etc – sex is certainly on the agenda, every bit as much as religion, alternative medicine and the use of language, offensive or otherwise. And I wouldn’t have it any other way!
The girls like you, Tim, and you like it that the girls like you: as the male equivalent of what some men accuse certain women of being, I suppose I could dub you a pussy-teaser.
Being unavailable is part of the definition – ie ‘you can look but you can’t have me’ – and I get the impression that Tim has good instincts about how to manage this phenomenon of depersonalised desire. Unlike full-on stalkers, I (like most of his giddy, girly fans) know there’s a difference between the object of our desire and the real Tim. Of course, it goes without saying that I would love to get to know him as a real person, have a relaxed and friendly level of normal intimacy, without the star-struck, tongue-tied silliness – and, on the other side of the same coin, would love to be known and liked by him in return. But that’s not going to happen. I’m no different from all the other fans: I’m a fan, not a friend. I’ve joined the Tim-party too late: the early fans got to be friends (or pseudo-friends?), but now he’s too big, too famous.
And so, in the rush to get through a long queue, I become a ‘Hi’ and a ‘Bye’ . It’s just one of those things – I couldn’t help acting weird; he couldn’t help hurrying past.
When thinking about what I should have said, or what I might say if I get to meet Tim in the future, I toy with referencing his self-confessed need for affirmation (since the only thing I can offer him, as a fan, that he actually says he needs, is that!). Maybe something like:
‘Great show, Tim – consider yourself affirmed!’ or ‘I really affirm you’ or ‘Just like to offer you some heart-felt affirmation, Tim, - I absolutely love your work’ ….But it’s a bit lame, isn’t it? – and anyway, I’m sure other fans have already used that approach. No, rehearsing a set line just doesn’t seem the right way to go. Just have to hope I can retain my faculties sufficiently to improve on ‘HI..Bye’
In the end, we all have the same needs, don’t we? Affirmation is what I’m seeking too, I suppose. As a fan, (perhaps particularly because I’m a slightly older fan) I’m - foolishly - looking for some kind of affirmation from this complete stranger - a sense that my liking of him is valued in some way (even if, as I suspect - despite his sexual provocativeness - he wishes there wasn’t quite so much fervour mixed in with the liking).
The boys you have fangirl crushes on are rarely the ones you get to kiss for real (unless you’re Paula Yates – and look what happened to her!). But my real man is lovely, so no complaints there. Even so, I can’t help continuing to hope that one day my sub-conscious will grant me a TripleX-rated dream about a certain ginger, Australian toy-boy …..