In the early days of this particular fandom – which I realize I’m writing about for the first time on this blog – quite a few conversations between me and friends in this fandom went something like “OMG is this really happening?” – “I’m not sure. I can’t quite wrap my mind around it, because … OMFG” ;-)
After all a lot of pretty extraordinary things and unbelievably cool stuff did happen because of my unofficial fanpage for a popular German TV couple: Mariele Millowitsch & Walter Sittler. (They are not a couple in real life. I thought I’d better clear that up right from the start ;-) But they are very good friends and between 1994 and 2005 starred in two very successful TV shows together).
I started my fanpage in October 1998, because I was a fan looking for news about them and as no fan-website or fanclub or something similar existed, I decided to start my page. And even though I don’t update my site with the same diligence, effort or enthusiasm as I did a decade ago, I’m still providing it. Because it’s a great archive of stuff (and it has been a lot of work, which I’d hate to see go down the virtual drain). I also try to keep information on their current projects available and I definitely try to keep the “TV / Talkshow / Theater dates ” page up-to-date. It’s the least I can do for old and new fans who still are around as both Mariele and Walter are still very popular and successful actors on TV (and in Walter’s case also on stage.)
But the main reason for me to keep the site going and to take at least basic care of it probably is, that often enough I remember what this “project” once meant to me and what a huge and positive impact the whole thing had on my life. I experienced so many extraordinary and exciting things because of it. For years I’ve ocassionally been an extra on their sitcom and thus got a glimpse “behind the scenes” of a TV show production. It’s always been a fascinating experience, not to mention it was pretty cool to get the newest scoop and spoilers months before the episodes aired on TV. I’ve been to a movie premiere, in the audience of late night shows, been an extra or visitor on set of various other TV movies or series.
I also admit that I’ve done some crazy stuff, but I think I can say that I never ever went batshit crazy on them ;-). At least I hope that I always respected their privacy and kept certain boundaries. In the early years my low self-esteem probably set boundaries which were fencing me in much more than necessary, but looking back now I think everything happened at the right pace and the right time. For me anyway.
Through this fanpage I met some great friends who were exactly the right people I needed at that time and I’ve learned so much about myself through all of this.This hobby / activity (whatever label you want to attach to it) is a large part of my history, and I don’t know if I would be the person I am today without it. I know I definitely thrived on all the positive feedback I got from other fans for my work and through the new formed friendships. I always enjoyed the usually forthcoming treatment from PR people or the welcoming staff on a TV set and of course I very much appreciated that Mariele and Walter seem to appreciated what I was doing and how I was doing it.
The reason I’m writing about this here and now is that for the first time in quite a while this Sunday afternoon a shadow of the “OMG is this really happening?” thought occured. And the fact that I did not freak out about any of it, just made me realized how much actually had changed over the last 13.5 years. During the first probably ten years and even after countless encounters with Mariele and Walter I still spent a lot of time worrying about what they might think of me and of what I was doing and if I was making a fool of myself or if I was getting on their nerves and all the other dark and deprevating thoughts a 20-something with low self-esteem can come up with.
I can’t necessarily say when exactly my way of thinking changed and when I became much more self-confident and comfortable in my “role” in all of this. But I do know that the shy and nervous 23-year-old me, who at the first encounter with Walter didn’t dare to admit that she was running the fanpage, would not have believed the 36-year-old-me, had I told her, that one day she’ll meet Walter for coffee and spend a relaxed, and very enjoyable hour easily chatting about all kinds of (random) stuff. No nerves, no worries (ok, maybe a teeny tiny bit of nerves and worries), but that she would basically just be enjoying the moment.
Which is exactly what I did on Sunday, when he was performing on stage in a town nearby and my best friend and I had bought tickets for the evening. I had asked him if he’d like to meet us over coffee in the afternoon, he readily agreed and that’s just what we did. On the one hand it didn’t really feel like this huge extraordinary thing and I very much appreciated the lack of emotional stress that comes with considering it something rather “ordinary”. On the other hand being there with my best friend who had never really met him before and especially to see the reactions of the waitresses and other guests in the café, made me realize that having coffee with a known and popular TV star is something pretty darn extraordinary after all ;-)
I think what made this afternoon so special for me, was to share it with my friend and to see that she enjoyed this coffee date with Walter just as much as I did. To see that she totally gets why after almost 14 years and countless encounters I’m still a bit (ok, sometimes a lot *g*) smitten by him. I hope she doesn’t mind me quoting her 5-word-characterization, but he really is “incredibly kind, funny, smart and down-to-earth”. He also is very easy to talk to, generous and down-right charming, which I think the waitresses could easily attest to as well.
Beforehand I honestly didn’t consider how the staff or other guests might react to us having coffee in that café, but after Walter left (to get ready for his performance) the waitresses and other guests excitedly started asking questions like “OMG, was that really the guy from TV?” and “What on earth is he doing here?” and the one waitress regretted not having the nerves to just come up to the table and ask for an autograph. I felt a bit bad for her, because Walter is such a genuinely nice guy, he definitely would have signed something for her or posed for a photo and such. It’s what he does and probably one of the many reasons why he is such a popular guy.
And while my friend maybe thought it was surreal to be sitting there having coffee with him, the most surreal thing to me was that I wasn’t at all freaking out about sitting there having coffee with him. If you know me and especially if you had known 23-year-old-me, you will realize what a big deal that actually is. Such a big deal, that it totally warrants this long “OMG I’m a bit freaking out about not having freaked out” blog post ;-)