I guess everybody has something they’d call a guilty pleasure. Even the best of us sometimes give in to temptation and it depends on the offense as to whether or not you ought to just be careful or be taken into custody. I’d say the guiltiest of my guilty pleasures would be my addiction to the NBC super hit, The Office. I’ve watched the entire series ten times now, which is in itself something that should be cause for concern, and I used to think I was only one of a few who were so obsessed, but apparently, I’m not. There are a bunch of us the world over. But this episode isn’t about the obsession, it’s about why I should probably never meet anybody from the cast. I don’t know that I’d behave myself appropriately.
I’m Michael Blackston and this is probably the closest I’ll get to being called a fanboy when it comes to my Funny Messy Life.
I think the reality of my ever getting to meet an actual member of the cast of The Office is pretty slim. I guess if any of my books get sold or any of my plays get picked up, there’s a possibility, but the likelihood of that happening is not good. I suppose if I composed a musical about a beet farmer named Dwight who gets beamed up into a real life Battlestar Galactica scenario and defeats an alien attack with a laser gun made from a nutcracker machine he has to fish out of a big old mound of Jello, I might hear from NBC’s legal department, but otherwise, let’s be real.
What’s got me thinking about this is the recent arrival of two podcasts created by cast members from the show: An Oral History of The Office, hosted by Brian Baumgardner, who played Kevin, and Office Ladies, hosted by Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey, who played Pam and Angela. The Office has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity lately as people are discovering what I’ve known for years … it’s possibly the best show that ever graced the screen of anything. I know it is for me. And one thing I’ve learned by listening to these two podcasts is that the cast of the show seems to love it as much as the fans. That’s a revelation to me because you would think after so many seasons and new opportunities and the constant obsessive fans bringing up the same old phrases and jokes, the actors would be saying, “Enough already!”
So as I sat listening to an episode of Office Ladies, a podcast where Jenna and Angela break down every single episode, walking down memory lane with cast and crew and offering behind the scenes nuggets of Office goodness dipped in awesome sauce that’s been lovingly created with the voices of the hosts and adding ever more flavor to my world which I once believed to be devoid of further tastes of The Office, I noticed they often mention the names of fans who write in with questions. And I thought to myself, “Self, what would it be like to hear my name spoken aloud by Pam or Angela or Jim or Kevin, or the holy grail of it all, Michael Scott?” And that’s when I decided it probably wouldn’t be a great idea to meet them in person. Because my heart started to beat wildly. My nose started to run. My eyes watered and I began to sweat in places I can’t mention in a family podcast.
I’d actually heard my name spoken a lot during the run of the show. Like I said, the lead character, until he left after season seven. Was Michael Scott. So I’d heard them all say “Michael”, but it’s not the same as if they actually said something along the lines of, “Strangely attractive fanboy Michael Blackston sent in a question about Steve Carell. He asks: Jenna and Angela … Do you think Steve might have had an inappropriate crush on the two of you, seeing that he was married at the time and if so, did his wife Nancy mind, knowing it was just a fantasy kind of a thing? Asking for a friend. Signed, Michael Blackston.” or even, “Wildly talented writer, composer, singer, and actor Michael Blackston, who would totally accept an offer to work on a reboot, writes in with a question: Dearest Jenna and Angela or Jennjela - (do you mind me calling you Jennjela?) … Do you think Steve might have had a man-crush on John Krazinski and if so, did Pam mind, knowing Steve was married? Asking for a friend. - Michael Blackston (professional artist who would have definitely attended Pam’s art show and friend of cats, who would have never put Sprinkles in the freezer.)
Something like that would set my soul aflame. But meeting them? Actually MEETING them? I don’t think I could handle that, at least not well. Not in a way where they would come away from it NOT uncomfortable. Let me sprinkle some thought over this … Sprinkles …
Let me share with you why it might be a bad idea.
I’ve never been the type to go nuts over celebrities in the first place. I know they’re real people just like you and me, they put their pants on one leg at a time just like you and me, and they probably hate putting on stage makeup just like you and me. But it’s different with The Office. I think I’ve watched it so many times and made those characters such an integral part of my life that they’ve taken on the feel of real people, not actors playing roles. I knew this would be a problem for me after listening to the first episode of Office Ladies. I understood it was Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey on their mics, but I found myself wanting to hear them take on their characters. It was easier when Jenna referenced Angela because Angela played Angela in the show, but when Angela mentions Jenna, I think, No. She’s Pam. I want you to call her Pam because she’s Pam and she loves Jim and she likes to draw illustrations. I start feeling Like Stephen King’s character Annie Wilkes in Misery (Played by Kathy Bates, who, by the way, played Jo on The Office for a while), except that I don’t intend to kidnap Greg Daniels and break his leg so he can’t go anywhere until he vows to bring back the show, including Michael Scott. In that book, Annie couldn’t make a distinction between real life and the world of her favorite book character. I know the difference and I respect the actors, but I don’t want to let go of my favorite show.
If I actually met Jenna or Angela, I would be completely respectful, but I don’t think I could get through the meeting without starting to cry. And that would be embarrassing because it wouldn’t be a charming cry like you might get from a normal person meeting someone they admire. “How sweet, Ange … he’s got a tear in his eye. What a charming and normal man-fan.”
No, I’m afraid it’d be far worse than that. “Lady, he’s sobbing like a baby child. It’s embarrassing to watch and sad.”
“But he’s happy, Jenna. I think that’s joyful sobbing.”
“It gives me no joy, Ange. No joy at all.”
It could also go the other way. I could become so insecure that I was incapable of saying a single word. I’d try not to be that fan that blats out stuff from the show as if they’re the first person who thought of that. I don’t know that fans ought to look for reasons to shout That’s what she said to Steve Carell, but I’ll bet it happens all the time. The rest of the cast has earned the right to go there at any time, but me … I don’t think so. Still, I doubt I’d be able to help myself and I’d also bet money that I’d be so eager to do it that it wouldn’t even make sense.
Imagine this scenario.
I’m in Atlanta, the closest large city to where I live, and I’ve felt the need to pick up a bag of Oreos and some milk for my ride home because that’s what diabetics do. Actually, it’s not what we should do, but in my case, it’s part of what I do that made me a diabetic, but anyway … behind me in line is Steve Carell, who has come to town because they’re filming another Avenger’s movie and Marvel has decided the SHIELD agents could do with a Scarn-like quality. He notices my items and because I understand that Steve is a real down-to-earth kind of guy, he comments to be neighborly. “Sometimes ya just gotta go with milk and cookies, am I right?”
I turn, realize who’s behind me and can’t stop my stupid mouth before screaming, “THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID!” right into his face. Not the best impression, to be sure. In my soul, I would have wanted to say the perfect line, something so brilliant that Steve grins wide and asks for my number so we can be best friends forever and ever, but I suspect I would more than likely make myself look like a dufus.
Brian Baumgardner is from Atlanta, so I guess there’s a small possibility of our meeting and me shouting, “Do Kevin … DO KEVIN!”
Rainn Wilson would have to endure me throwing out a random reference to Bears, Beets, Battlestar Galactica .. in that order. Or saying something like, “Whar’s Mose? Ya talk to Mose lately?””
I could go on and on with every actor who has become a part of my mental family and that’s the way I think of them. And that’s why I have so much love for them all. There is no other television show that has affected me so completely as The Office. And it makes me happy when I hear the likes of Jenna and Angela and Brian and Steve discuss in interviews and podcasts how much it touches their hearts to know they’ve been welcomed so fully into homes and families all around the world.
So I guess this did turn out to be more of a love fest for The Office, but that’s how I feel. Those characters and stories continue to make me laugh and cry every time I watch it, no matter HOW MANY times I watch it. And in all honesty, if I ever get the opportunity to meet any of them, I will be a total gentleman and not get all awkward. I mean after all, it was just a show about an ordinary paper company, although in Pam’s words, there’s a lot of beauty in ordinary things. Isn’t that kind of the point?
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