How I Finally Met David Duchovny
"David, this is Red."
If my life was a movie, you'd hear a record scratch right about now.
* * *
It's September 2018 and a notification pops up on Facebook. David Duchovny in concert. Are you interested? AM I. What a world we live in, where my former FBI infatuation now sings to a live audience and, more importantly, is coming to do it just down the road from me.
My friend Mark works at the venue. I send him a message overloaded with exclamation marks. All my mates knows that The X Files is My Thing. I'm pretty jealous that someone I know has the potential to be in the same building as my hero. When I first moved back to Manchester, Mark suggested I come work with him at the theatre but I never followed it up. I'm regretting it now.
"Maybe I'll just get a job there and hope I end up meeting him? That's wouldn't be weird, right?"
A week later, tickets go on sale for the show and I buy two. A month later I start my first shift as an usher.
I'm pretty coy about my motivations (or at least I think so). As with the rest of my life, I downplayed the extreme lengths I was taking to meet my idol as the butt of a hilarious joke. And after a while it did become the punchline to my casual employment. I love my ushering job and have clocked in hundreds of hours over the five months I've worked here. As time wore on, the approaching mid-February date, "DD Day", felt it was happening to somebody else. I'd joked myself out of the narrative.
* * *
It's February 19th and I'm squeezing myself into thigh-clenching leggings, evening my skin tone with a layer of beige goo. I'm a vibrating ball of nervous energy. I spill liquid lipstick on my dress and colour in the stain with a black sharpie pen to disguise my clumsiness, as I chug down my hundredth coffee of the day. My shift starts at 3.30pm. What shift, you ask? Oh, just stewarding the David Duchovny Meet & Greet.
At work we set up the tiny barrier we hope will contain the 100+ excited fans with VIP passes. I'm wheezing and sweating from carrying the heavy metal poles up two sets of stairs. The support band soundcheck is vibrating through the theatre hall walls. I am trying to Be Chill, but everyone knows how excited I am. My duty manager knows. My manager manager knows.
"I can see the judgement in your eyes." I say, giggling with shame. I feel like the exact opposite of a kid skipping school; I've snuck into the class and am sitting in the front row, studiously scribbling. She doesn't even go here.
The Meet & Greet is a couple songs-worth of soundcheck and then everyone lines up to have their photo taken. I love watching the audience the most, it's like being in a roomful of me. I hear a familiar catchphrase echoing around the room; "It's been twenty years!" I talk to people who also fell in love with Fox Mulder when they were twelve. I talk to people from all over the world. One woman told me she applied to work abroad in Vancouver for three months so she could see The X Files being filmed. I speak to a group who have been to 38 prior Duchovny shows. I see glorious nineties merchandise, grasped by fans trying to hold it together as best they can. MY PEOPLE.
"I can't imagine being this excited to meet a celebrity." says the security guard standing next to me. HAHAHA ME NEITHER. The photos take over an hour. There is a lot of people here and with David now obscured behind a the makeshift photobooth curtain, my excitement has worn off some. I'm waiting to clock off, smoke a quick anxiety cigarette, buy a t-shirt and then watch the gig as a civilian.
We're down to the last seven or eight people in line. One of the event managers comes over and asks if the staff members who wanted to meet David are here. She doesn't mean me. I grab her arms with both of my hands and hiss, "ME?"
"Well sure," She says in her lovely American accent." Why don't you join the line?"
I turn to my duty manager like a preschooler asking their parent if they can go play in the sandpit with the rest of the other children. "Can I?"
“Ok." He says, and I nearly fall on the floor in front of them both.
I'm wearing a bumbag and a walkie and a badge that says Front of House. I take my earpiece out and clip it onto my collar just as I'm being introduced. I look into the smiling face of David Duchovny.
"I'm at work!" I announce, unnecessarily pointing at my bumbag. He shakes my hand and then brings me into a hug. I squish myself into his chest like a koala as the photographer clicks away.
We talk a little and maybe I'm not as weird as I think I am. "Red, like your hair?" He asks. "Red, like... my life." I say, blushing. Never mind.
I didn't have anything for him to sign, because I am a big ol' imposter, so the tour manager gives me his own All Access Pass to be signed. "Thank you!" I say, privately thinking "Does this mean I can go anywhere?"
When it's over, I exit the curtained corner of the booth and do a full-on footballer style victory pose as various members of staff look on. I feel like I just completed a really challenging puzzle or ran a marathon. I did it! The most ridiculous long-game I've ever played actually paid off.
I love my job. And my glorious coworkers who let me fangirl giddily at them with minimal judgement.
The concert itself was the cherry on top of the best day ever. I had wrongfully assumed that Duchovny would perform quite stoically, working through the setlist with little audience interaction. False. I wasn't expecting this level of dad-dancing to occur, and he was leaping around the stage with more energy than I have now let alone will have when I'm fifty-eight. He jumped off the stage into the audience and ran through the room, high-fiving everyone. People were out of their seats, dancing. It was An Experience.
"It's like being at a church." Said Josh.
"We all want to believe." I replied, as David Duchovny peeled off his shirt and threw it into the crowd.