(Fan)atic, December 29, 2013
On December 14, 2011, I called Time Warner Cable to transfer service to my new home. The very polite salesman finished the task, then asked me: “Is there anything else I can do for you today ma’am?”
“Um, yes” I said, I felt like those patients who go to the doctor for an embarrassing ailment and stall until the last second to reveal it. “actually, I was wondering if you could get a particular channel.”
“I can definitely do that for you today, which channel would you like to purchase?” he said.
“Um, the BBC, please,” I said.
“It looks like you have that included with your package,” he said.
“No, that’s BBC America,” I said. “I need the actual BBC, you know, whatever they air in the UK.”
“Oh I’m sorry we can’t do that,” he said.
“Oh I see,” I said. “There was a particular show that I need to watch.”
“Is it ‘Top Gear’?” he said with some excitement. “I love ‘Top Gear.’”
“No,” I said, hesitating. “Another show. No worries, I’ll just… wait…”
The word “fan” is derived from the word “fanatic” which can be defined as a “person filled with excessive or single minded zeal.” Its origins come from the word “festival” and “temple” as it was originally used to describe religious zeal. When I gained knowledge of this, I ran through all my “fan” moments and realized they were also the times I behaved like a big idiot.
Case in point: the BBC’s “Sherlock.” I completely go to crazy town over it. I subscribe to all the fanblogs, and read all the articles, and have seen the episodes dozens of times over. The conversation you see above actually happened – I tried to talk a phone salesmen in to getting me the BBC so I could view the second season premiere two weeks prior to the US premiere.
Luckily that year I did get to watch it early. A very kind man uploaded the episode and I watched it from my cell phone the second it was available. My sister was there to witness the whole display. I jumped on top of the couch and started cheering. “Someone uploaded it, it’s live someone uploaded it, this is the best day on earth!” I went to sleep wearing a smile.
Two years have passed, and history is repeating itself. The third season premiere airs on January 1, 2014 in the UK, and we US citizens have to wait a full two weeks before getting to view it. It doesn’t help that the cliffhanger from the last episode has left a huge, unanswered question (even comedian Jack Whitehall tried to get Benedict Cumberbatch to tell him what happened when they appeared together on “The Graham Norton Show"). I had half a mind to just fly to the UK to view it (that would make for a fun party), but decided against it for obvious reasons.
I was doing well keeping my excitement at bay until this weekend, when it dawned on me that: 1. “my guy” might not upload the videos immediately like he did last year, and 2. there might be some strange internet mishap or AT&T service cut off, or other weird anomaly keeping me from watching it ASAP. Then suddenly, I started to pace the room. I started to wring my hands. I needed a backup plan.
“I could go to Craigslist!” I told myself. “I could pay someone in the UK to stream it via Skype to me simultaneously! Hell, if perverted financiers got to ask for women to dress up as French maids and other nonsense, there is no shame in paying for someone to stream me ‘Sherlock!’”
Again, with the wringing of the hands.
I jumped on Google: “How to watch Sherlock before January 19” was typed into the prompt, but nothing came up. I thought about emailing my guy in the UK through the username on his video streaming account to confirm he was alive, still a fan, and still fully capable of getting me my fix. But then I worried that dozens of other fans had too, so I backpedaled.
I considered the other fatal flaws to the plan. What if he uploaded it at an inopportune time? I am scheduled for a New Year’s Eve party. What would happen if I got word that it was available at the party? I’d just have to hide in the bathroom or feign sick and go home early. I looked at my watch, how many hours ahead were they, five? If my life were a movie, this would be the scene where someone would slap me and say: “get a hold of yourself!” Being that I was alone, I was able to talk myself down.
Yes, I have waited two years and two more weeks to wait is nothing. And yes, keeping away from the internet spoilers might be hard but doable. And yes, I grew up being the kid who would sit in front of her presents on Christmas Day and say, “You know I could wait a little longer,” making me known as Ariel-Queen-of-Delayed-Gratification-Davis for a reason. So yes, it’s fully possible for me to wait without losing it in the process.
But sometimes it’s fun to get excited; to have that thing that you let yourself go for. People get crazy over football, and “Star Wars” and what have you. So maybe it was OK, just this once?
As my friend Ryan said after I told him my Philip Glass story:
“Sometimes, you just have to fan boy it.”
Amen to that.