We would have two weeks to prepare these shows, but we would spend 13 and a half days ruining every organ we could name. Then we would snap out of it the night before and get to business.
"Okay, we need categories!" Steph would say over the phone with a nervous giggle, feeling the heat of our deadline.
"What about a category on...things WE like?!"
These shows would be themed, such as the Oscars show and the Harry Potter Show, and over the next 2 years, it became pretty popular. We ended up getting e-mails from people from other colleges who wanted to come and participate. We had graduates who wanted to be on the show. We then had high school kids e-mail us asking to be on. This was the life, I thought. Our faces are out there in the great city of Philadelphia and people want to be part of our show. We made it! AND THEY LOVE US! THEY REALLY LOVE US!
And yes, they loved us.
Some more than others....
I'm not sure how it began, but between my junior and senior year, a man from Philadelphia had found me on Facebook, and got my school e-mail. He was in his mid 20s, and had e-maield me something innocent. I didn't mind one bit. After all, it was FAN MAIL. I'm not sure how it evolved from e-mails to screen names, but it did. I remember raising a red flag wh
en this gentleman wrote me "Oh god, Ryan, I'm so scared. I think I may have an STD. I'm just waiting for the results and I'm SOOOO nervous." Four minutes later, he asked "get coffee with me?"
I said no. A clip played in my head where I get strangled and dead, stripped, and thrown i a dumpster somewhere.
A few days later, I received an e-mail. I opened it. A line was crossed. Nude photos glared back at me. Finally, it had happened. I was truly, 100% being harassed like a CELEBRITY! I was then tempted to give him my address, leave my apartment for a week, and return home to find all my underwear missing and my cat's head ripped off. "It could have been me," my newspaper quote would read. "All I keep thinking is...what would he have done if I WAS home?! Now if you'll excuse me, I have a cat to bury."
As you can guess, I never talked to that man again. And after telling my production manager about "the photos that get people sent to prison", we decided not to have outsiders on the show. But imagine the ratings if he WAS on. Still naked?! My mind raced. Surely by that point I would need a body guard.
Weeks went by with no word from the STD man and I carried on with my life. It was during some gay parade - or THE gay parade - in Philly that the delicious burden of stardom appeared once more. As i walked down the street, an empty beer in my hand, I heard "Ryan?" I knew what it was about. I don't know how, but I just knew - perhaps it was the tone. I turned to see a stranger staring at me. "You're the kid from tv!"
"Yes. Yes I am."
"Let me buy you a drink, kid!"
"If you sign my ass..."
A pause. For those of you how know me, you may know that I will do anything for a free drink. Anything. So I was handed a pen, and he pulled his pants down a little and I signed my SECOND STALKERS right ass cheek. That's right. NUMBER 2.
As i look back on those years, now an old woman, I miss my stalker(s). But if I ever feel lonely, bitter, and old - I just type my name into youtube and find that one girl who taped herself doing "Ryan's opening" from his television show - the one where I roll out of bed. It makes me laugh, and reminds me of a simpler time, one where nude photos were a plus and signing someone's ass meant something. These memories bring a light to my face and when I look in the mirror I can say with utter confidence "Yeah...I'm just like Julia Roberts."