[Disclaimer: this promises to be a rather lengthy post. Can't say I didn't warn you!]
First of all, I wanted to make a note of my first Gilmore girls-meets-real life experience I had in relation to this trip. Thursday morning, as Husband and I were finishing up our packing, I decided to throw on a random episode of Gilmore girls that was saved on my DVR to give me something to listen to as I made sure I remembered to pack underwear. It happened to be the episode titled "Those are strings, Pinocchio" (season 3, episode 22). In the episode, Lorelai and Rory are preparing to leave for their European trip in celebration of Rory graduating Chilton. In addition, Luke is preparing for his cruise with Nicole. How weird is that!? Even weirder... I decided to throw a random episode on now as I'm writing this post... and it's the following episode, where Lorelai and Rory have returned from their European adventure and Luke is home from his cruise ("Ballrooms and Biscotti" season 4, episode 1).
Given this... I should've known that this trip was destined to be an amazing. I just didn't realize quite howamazing.
Thursday, Husband and I were scheduled to leave Bradley International Airport in Hartford CT at 2:30pm. We were flying into Dulles Airport in Washington DC. From there, we'd have about an hour layover and then would hop on our flight to Rome. The flight to Dulles was great and we were sitting at the gate, waiting to board our Rome flight. Another passenger noticed the book I was reading (11/22/63 by Stephen King) and struck up a conversation with us about books. About five minutes before we hopped on our flight, Husband was telling our new hippie friend about my blog. Right as we were about to board our flight, Husband was saying "Have you ever heard of the show Gilmore girls?..." Little did I know.
Now we're boarding the plane. Husband is a few feet in front of me as we're walking through first class. As I'm po' white trash, I've only ever sat in coach... and the first class section on this particular plane was pretty cool (molded plastic seats that fold down into beds)! I'm looking around me in wonder and smiling like an idiot (I'm easily impressed) when this guy, already seated in front of me turns around and sees me smiling. We make eye contact and he flashes an AMAZING smile back at me. At first, in my head, I'm thinking "Dude... he's CUTE!". In the same moment, I'm also thinking about how he must have thought I was smiling AT him and there was a little twinge of embarrassment. As we're still smiling at each other (all of this happened within a split second), the realization slowly washes over me. He must've been able to see each step of my brain recognizing him written all over my face. There was no doubt about it...
I'm being smiled at by JARED.FUCKING.PADALECKI!
At this point, the people behind me are lagging a little, so I'm really the only person (with the exception of DEAN FORRESTER!) in first class at this point. I break eye contact and start to walk forward. His back is towards me so he doesn't get to witness the comical run back and forth I do as I try to make up my mind whether I want to be "that" person and gush over him. And I'm not even kidding... I physically would take 3 steps back toward Jared's seat, 3 steps toward the coach section, 3 more steps back towards Jared. Eventually, I realized that I just didn't want to embarrass myself so I gave up and ran towards Husband hissing in his ear "THAT WAS JARED PADALECKI!!!"... "WHO?!"... "DEAN FROM GILMORE GIRLS!" Husband has kind of confirmed that at this point, he figured it was a case of mistaken identity combined with wishful thinking. But I knew... there was no doubt in my mind about it.
I finally got seated and called a friend (another huge Gilmore girls fan... and the one person who I knew would appreciate this the most) to tell her what I had just experienced. She finally said to me "Elizabeth... you HAVE to be 'that' person. You'll beat yourself up if you don't just do it". But I was still confident that I would never try to get back up there. I'd just be kept warm with the fact that Jared Padalecki flashed a gorgeous smile at me before he even realized I knew who he was. I had decided to believe that he thought I was cute. And that was more than enough for me.
About an hour into the flight, one of the flight attendants (Edna... who I might now have to name my first born child after because she MADE MY LIFE), came over to me and said "So, you know who that guy was?" Apparently my reaction was pretty obvious once I got into coach and it forced Edna to ask Jared if he acts. His response? "Sometimes." SOMETIMES?! Doesn't that make you love him even more. He was only in one of the best shows of all time and is only one of two main characters in a CURRENT show running on The CW! So humble... sigh.
I proceeded to tell Edna about Gilmore girls and Supernatural. She finally said to me "Listen... if I can swing it, I'll try to get an autograph for you. I would try to get a picture of you with him, but I'm not so sure I'll be able to manage that". I told Edna that I would appreciate ANYTHING with all of my heart and she would become my new best friend if she could manage an autograph.
I couldn't concentrate after this. I would read a page of my book and would have to read it all over again because I couldn't focus on anything other than the fact that Dean was on my flight and had smiled at me. I talked myself off a ledge... if Edna couldn't get me an autograph, the smile was enough and I would be forever grateful for that experience. Every once in awhile, Edna would give me an update "Loverboy is sleeping right now... but I'll see if I can get an autograph once he wakes up".
About an hour before our flight was scheduled to land (so about 7.5 hours into our flight... I look just LOVELY at this point ::eye roll::), Edna came over to me to ask me my name for an autograph. As I tell her, my entire body is thrumming and I'm excitedly awaiting Edna's return so I can see the autograph. I see Edna come through the curtains with a piece of paper in hand. She gives it to me and then says "This is your lucky day... give me your camera". WHAT?!?!?!??!?!?!?!?!? Jared Padalecki has agreed to meet me?! How am I this lucky?!
At about 7:30am Rome time on Friday May 27th, I hand my iPhone to Edna, show her how to take a photo and am grinning like an idiot (again) as we walk down the aisle. I still have the autograph in my hand, so as I pass Husband (our flight was so packed that we weren't able to sit together), I thrust it at him and say "Here, hold this!" I look back at him and his expression is hysterical as he realizes where I'm going.
I walk through the first class curtain and Edna says "Jared... this is Elizabeth". And my whole world is perfect.
First of all, he is more gorgeous in person than he even appears on television or in photos. He exudes a really sweet and gentle nature... but is funny as hell. Our conversation was so organic, I was amazed. I always figured if I met a celebrity that I really cared about, I'd clam up, being all shy and quiet. But I wasn't! I was Elizabeth. And I think a lot of that had to do with how comfortable Jared made me feel immediately. There was laughter, sarcasm and jokes like there would be if I was speaking to a friend.
As Edna introduced us and we shook hands, Jared got comfortable... hunkering down for a conversation with me. I was also amazed by that. I figured we'd be introduced, we'd take the photo quickly and we'd say goodbye. But NOT AT ALL! We had about a 15 minute conversation together. And he seemed just as excited and interested as I was to speak about Gilmore girls.
Right after he sat down, I congratulated him on the newest addition to his family... his baby son! He got SO excited, jumped up and showed me a photo of Thomas Colton (that he explained was taken at 3 weeks old) that is currently the wallpaper on his iPhone. Just a regular proud papa. I asked him what he was doing in Rome. He explained that he was there for press, but would be flying to Brazil shortly after. He was so cute as he explained how bummed out he was that his son is only 5 weeks old and therefore too young to go to Brazil (he was telling me about how babies need a shitton of vaccinations to go to Brazil and they just couldn't do it at 5 weeks old). He said he had to tear himself away to get on the plane. And let me tell you people... Mr. Thomas Colton Padalecki is ADORABLE! I'm not surprised... dad is so handsome and mom is beautiful! The little man won the genetic lottery! As I complimented him on the name choice, he said "We love it... it's a good strong Texan name". Pride for the hometown... love it!
I explained that I was a huge fan of Gilmore girls. I explained to him about my little project and this blog and he looked at me with wide eyes and exclaimed "When do you ever sleep?!" From there, we started to talk about how many books are involved. I was impressed by how he actually remembered certain books. He asked me if I had read Rosemary's Baby yet. I told him I had and then I said "Actually dude... I have a bone to pick with you! You're the whole reason I had to read Moby Dick! And I wanted to kill myself!" He was laughing so hard and apologized profusely. At that point, he said he remembered... first episode when he told Rory he noticed her reading Moby Dick. As we were talking, he said he remembered Dean speaking to Rory about "Edith... somebody". I said "Yeah! Edith Wharton... I read her a few months ago!" I bragged to Jared about having read War and Peace in 12 days and his jaw was on the ground. He was so sincere in his reaction to my project and blog. I even told him that I congratulated him on my blog the day his son was born. He was so thankful for it.
The thing about Jared that struck me was how much love and respect he has for the show that started his career. At one point, he and I spent like 5 minutes trying to convince Edna to watch it. He was right there with me in telling her how amazing the show is. And you could tell he was being genuine. At one point, Jared and I are trying to calculate how long Gilmore girls has been off the air, but we're both telling Edna that she can catch it on ABCFamily or Soap pretty much any day. We were telling her that it had been on-air for 7 years and ended 4 years ago. Jared kept exclaiming about what a great show it is... how great the writing is, etc. I told him that even my Husband tells people that they really need to watch it. That was the catalyst for this next story:
He told me this great story about being in a bar in Texas (his home state) once. He said (paraphrased) "As a bigger guy, guys tend to get aggressive around me for some reason. I was in this bar and as soon as I walked in, I noticed this big biker-looking guy eyeing me. I don't want to fight anyone so I was dreading anything happening. After an hour or so of him looking me up and down, he comes over to me and I'm thinking 'shit... I REALLY don't want to have to fight this guy' and he leans down and in a gruff voice says 'Are you that guy from Gilmore girls?' I say 'Yes, I am' and he responds "I LOVE THAT SHOW!!!"
I was so glad that I had started watching Supernatural before this little run-in (and even more glad that I actually love it). I told Jared that I'm about 8 episodes into Supernatural and am in love with it. He was so thankful. I also told him about my confusion when watching Supernatural as opposed to Gilmore girls. If you've never seen Supernatural, there are two main characters... Dean and Sam. And guess who DOESN'T play the "Dean" character! He was laughing with me about that and told me that he had the same problem when he started to film Supernatural. They would call "Dean is here... Sam is here" and Jared would walk to Dean's spot. He said it happened to him a LOT. He also had a hard time because the girlfriend's name in Supernatural is Jess. I didn't even catch that connection... but Jared sure did. I also explained that, although Dean Forrester is lovable in Gilmore girls, I was literally thinking just last week about how much more Supernatural showcases Jared's acting ability. He was so grateful for this compliment and thanked me profusely.
I finally felt I had to explain that I'm "really not super pathetic. I'm 31... I just love Gilmore girls". He was laughing and that he totally understands people's love of Gilmore girls. After I said that I own the entire series on DVD times two... he told me a funny story. He was at a store purchasing the "collection in the white box" (the one where all the seasons are together... the one I received for Christmas this year) for his mother (who is apparently a HUGE Gilmore girls fan, son being Dean Forrester or no). He got to the cashier and the guy behind the counter is looking at him... looking at his photo on the box... looking at him... looking at his photo on the box. He said the guy didn't say anything, but you could tell he was kind of confused by it.
Funny enough, Jared and Jensen's photo was in Thursday's (the day we left) edition of USA Today. Jared told me that when Edna was talking to him about me knowing him, he pointed out that they were in USA Today that very day. Edna was sweet enough to give me her copy (see Exhibit B below).
The final thing I had to ask him... What are Lauren and Alexis like in real life (I know, I know...) Jared explained to me that "Alexis and Lauren" (sigh) are just the sweetest, greatest people in the world and that he loved working with him. And then Jared told me the one thing I had hoped was true since my love for Gilmore girls began...
"Lauren is Lorelai" (that is a direct quote... not prompted by me in any way).
I then proceeded to tell Jared that Lauren Graham is the person I would pay to look like. He said (and I quote again) "I would pay to look AT her!". I agreed wholeheartedly.
At the end, Jared and I hugged and I thanked him for agreeing to meet me. He thanked me and said he really enjoyed speaking to me.
And here is my proof that this story wasn't just all something I dreamed while passed out on a flight to Rome.
Exhibit C (and the most important)
I still can't even believe this happened. What are the odds?! What are the chances that out of all the days, all the flights, all the planes... how did I (of all people) end up on the same flight from DC to Rome as Jared Padalecki?! I've never been one of those people who happens across celebrities. I just don't have that kind of luck. I've been near a few... I've had meals seated next to Robin Leach and Charles Grodin... Paul McCartney waved at me (and a bunch of other people)... I got to shake Billy Ray Cyrus and Gavin DeGraw's hands... I got an autograph from Mickey Dolenz. As you can tell, with the very notable exception of Paul McCartney, I tend to come across celebrities that aren't all that important to me (or all that famous at this point in time). It was exciting to be near them, but simply by virtue of their celebrity... not because I genuinely and wholeheartedly cared about what they did (once again, with the exception of Macca). I know it sounds silly, but I sincerely believe that I was meant to be on that flight to meet Jared. It's like the universe's way of telling me that it approves of my little project.
It was the single coolest moment of my entire life... sooooooo much better than touching the Pope!
Updated: contrary to popular belief, I am not Jared's PR monkey. This blog has 42 followers. I'm pretty sure I would've been fired by now.