My life would never be the same again.
For the non-Brits and the desperately young, let me explain: it was (and, unbelievably, still is) an Australian soap opera based on one street, Ramsay Street, in the fictional Melbourne suburb of Erinsborough. And back then, it was incredibly tame, discounting the haircuts, which were horrendous. It starred the then-unknown Kylie Minogue and her on-screen boyfriend, Jason Donovan.
Except, oh happy day! My ever-knowledgeable friend Philippa came to stay with me and told me "they're married in real life, you know". The fairy tale was coming true! The on-off romance was permanently on, off screen. So exciting.
I was ten. It was forgivable.
Also forgivable was the fact that Philippa had got a little confused and Jason and Kylie never were actually married as such. But they were together - or at least, according to Between the Lines, Jason's recentish autobiography whose terrible ghostwriter has a predilection for the word "for". "Because" will do fine most of the time! Anyway, that's beside the point.
I owed it to myself to read it, you see. Because twelve-year-old me (yes, this obsession lasted a while) was in love with Jason. I even prayed semi-regularly for him to become a Christian so that I could marry him. (Since there was obviously nothing else standing in the way.)
Luckily for my mental health and my mother's phone bill, there was no twitter or facebook or livejournal, there were no yahoo groups, not even any internet to speak of.
Twelve-year-old me spent several years desperate to visit Australia and learning everything she could about Jason and Kylie and Melbourne and Neighbours. She may even have dreamed of living there herself, being on the show, who knows what went on in her head.
Ahem. Of course since I am now all grown up I do not indulge in any such behaviour.
Okay. Some of it I do. But I do not expect, say, Bradley Whitford and Janel Moloney to be together in real life just because they had amazing chemistry on the West Wing. Had I known that Janel was married (and few people did until recently; she's got to be one of the most elusive famous people in the world), I would certainly not have entertained the thought for even a hundredth of a second, despite the photos of them together as real people and the quotes that are still kicking around the internet suggesting that they were never exactly repulsed by the idea of having to kiss each other. I'm glad that Janel is seemingly so happy and I really do hope that Brad will be again one day, too. Heck, I'd even be willing to help him out with that one. Even despite the moustache.
(On a serious note, this interview of his now ex-wife Jane Kaczmarek made me sincerely wish they could work things out. I was so impressed with her - such dignity, grace and kindness.)
I am not confused. Well, not about this: Bradley Whitford is not Josh Lyman. But I will admit that this piece comparing the two may have been the initial trigger to the transfer of my affections from Josh, who is a fictional character, to Brad, who may as well be, because let's face it, I don't know what he's really like.
Or do I? If sites like eHarmony insist you can get to know people through reading profiles and exchanging emails, then surely reading interview after interview, and speaking to people who have met him, gives me some idea of the kind of person he is. Don't they? Who knows? I feel I know him a little. I feel I certainly know him enough to accept the offer of coffee should it ever be forthcoming.
So when I talk about Brad, I'm not talking about Josh. (Nor, incidentally, am I being disrespectful or implying close personal friendship by using his first name. It seems kinder and warmer to me, and when people use just my surname, it makes me want to smack them; I'm not sure why.) I'm talking about the Bradley Whitford I feel I know something about. When I say I want to marry him, it's shorthand for I'd like to meet him, I'd like us to become friends, I'd like us to fall in love, then, if all of those things work out and he shaves off his moustache, I'd like to marry him. What can I say, I love fairy stories. You know, ordinary girl marries handsome actor and lives happily ever after. Writes a book about it called "Find Me Valuable".
But of course that's all it is. A fairy story.
It's just that I'm not ten anymore, so perhaps it's less forgivable.