As you know, I’ve been following Michael’s career since his first gig on Days of Our Lives. I had always wanted the chance to meet him, and when he was doing live theater in Boston, I finally got that chance. I knew a couple of other fans that were going and put a message on my website, Jarod’s Safe House, that if any other Michael/Pretender fans were going to check out Michael’s stage performance and wanted to meet to contact me.
Meanwhile, in the darkest depths of Staffordshire, England, I had been visiting JSH for a few weeks, using the computer at my local library … I was in the midst of moving to a new place and didn’t have internet connection … this is how I learned that Michael would be on stage in Boston, and I thought it would be a wonderful idea to go and see him in action….
Now, I have to admit, I’d never had my own internet connection before, so I found it somewhat daunting when I read Karen’s message and decided to reply….. after a couple of days I began to wonder if the “electronic magic” had “worked,” since I hadn’t heard from her… this is how my first contact with Karen, actually wasn’t from me, but my neighbour, who quickly sent another e-mail, asking if she had received my original message (she hadn’t — I had failed miserably) — Despite this inauspicious start, I eventually managed, with a little tuition, to send another e-mail, telling Karen that I loved JSH, yes, I was going to Boston and yes, I would love to meet up.
This would have been towards the end of November, 2005…. Karen and I e-mailed back and forth for a few days, but soon that wasn’t enough, and I was introduced to the delights of MSN (as it was then) ….. We found we had many things in common and, despite a bit of a language barrier (really!) we got on famously… Before long, it was January 2006 and I flew to Boston, giving Karen my hotel and flight info, so she could contact me once I arrived…. on around the second day of my holiday, I got a phone call from Karen … at last, we got to talk to each other, rather than type!
I think we talked on the phone at least once a day, and by the second phone call we were literally finishing one another’s sentences (even now we always seem to know what the other one is thinking; I always make it a point to tell Bridget to get out of my head, it’s a very dark and scary place. Ha ha). We were so excited to meet, but we had a good-sized group of fans together and really didn’t get to have a decent conversation between us. I had only flown up to Boston for the day and as soon as we got to talk to Michael, I had to leave; I didn’t even get to tell Bridget goodbye as I was so very late leaving the theater to get to the airport in time for my flight. We resumed our telephone conversations the very next day, and I soon learned she had “insulted” Michael’s attempt at trying to copy her accent. That’s an ongoing joke in and of itself I think you’d find amusing, and if you’re interested, I’d be more than happy to tell (although Bridget might threaten to do me bodily harm). When Bridget arrived back home from Boston after a two-week stay, we began discussing her visiting me in Georgia that coming June, a mere five months later. While she was visiting, we’d sit up late at night and watch Michael’s movies or just talk. I remember vividly how she told me so much about herself and how tight-lipped I was on telling her much about me….
I think it was around that time we started writing together …… just light-hearted romantic fiction at first … it soon became clear, however, that we enjoyed grittier stuff more…. and that’s all I will say on the subject LOL … indeed, we still write whenever we can and it’s become a big part of our friendship …..
Over the years, we have both been blessed with the opportunity to travel to see Michael in other plays and meeting him again afterwards. He has always been friendly and charming, happy to give hugs in equal measure … in fact, I can now actually see (and admit) that Karen was right to love him so much!
I hope Karen won’t mind me saying, but I think our mutual love of The Pretender, and Michael has seen both of us through some very trying times…… Jarod, after all, is like an extra member of our family…. and now Craig and Steve are too…. the Centre universe is indeed a wonderful thing …… without it, I wouldn’t have such a good friend and so many lovely memories to cherish…
I couldn’t agree more with Bridget’s last statement.
I went through a terrible time from about June of 2009 to February 2011 with health issues and losing my job as a result. The Pretender, working on Jarod’s Safe House, and Bridget, along with the other ladies I’ve met, was all that kept me sane and kept me going.
Between family problems and on-going health issues there are times when I become very upset and depressed, and lose interest in life in general, then Steve will answer one of my emails and say something so off-the-wall funny that it totally changes my day for the better. (Thank you Steve! I greatly value our friendship.)
I have met many fans online and some of them have become very dear to me, because we spent many hours chatting over the years through the various Pretender forums and continued that connection through social media or good old-fashioned emails. A few handles I will mention: Cassy, crackerjacknpez/sabs, mattali, and Quibus. Some of them have been pulled away from the fandom by other responsibilities and so we may not stay in touch as often but I always remember them and they have a place in my heart forever. They have inspired me and opened my life to new and exciting possibilities. Just last year Cassy and I took an online course together and I have Quibus to thank for finding a new obsession, even if to me, The Pretender will always be my favorite.
I have also been privileged to meet Kris who introduced me to Couchsurfing.org, and that’s had a huge impact on my life as I opened my home to visitors and even met new tP fans that way.
And…I am hoping to embark on a travel adventure courtesy of Cassy who has invited me to visit her…. across the miles… and I have also promised Sabs a visit…
All these things would not have happened had I not gone searching online when I discovered The Pretender and wanted more…I definitely got incredibly more than I could have conceived.
Before I end, I must also acknowledge and thank people like Jacci, Vania, chelle, Cate Barnes, Melissa Cunningham and Debbie who have done so much to support the fandom through websites and support for petitions and other campaign efforts of which I have been part. Without their tremendous efforts, who knows what would have been the state of the fandom because they are the ones who have helped to keep hope alive when things were not so hopeful.
Our fans are the greatest. We’ve been receiving submissions to be featured on our “A Thousand Friendships” section and we love them!
We have updated the webpage with stories from Miss Parker (the one and only!), Vania, Mallory and Pedro. We invite you all to go check them out and send in your own Pretender friendship stories. We are amazed with the amount of worldwide friendships that the Pretender has made possible throughout the years and we thank you for sharing that gift with us.
To read the stories, click here.
To submit your story, register and submit here.
Mallory and Vania had been chatting for months online, thanks to the Red File Project, but we only met live in October, during Vania’s honeymoon with Pedro (yes, Pedro, the Sweeper), who had just gotten married in the 19th.
Finally meeting each other face to face was an amazing experience, and one we will never forget. Mallory, who lives in Washington, D.C., traveled about 4.5 hours to the Big Apple, and Vania, well, she traveled all the way from Lisbon, Portugal… many more hours. But meeting up was destiny!
We met near the Magnolia Bakery in Grand Central Station – what better a place to meet than one of Jarod’s spots during his first escapade into the real world, right? The station was packed but we managed to find each other and soon we were out in the busy streets of Manhattan.
Trying to find a place to eat near the 5th Avenue, we ended up in a small diner/cafe, ordered some sandwiches, and had a few laughs. It was amazingly strange how comfortable and easy the conversation kept going! When we were done, we headed for Central Park. And what an amazing walk we had. The 3 of us found some great spots at the park as we discovered it together for the first time.
We kept walking and talking, discovering the little things about each other that we never do when we just chat online. But time went by too quickly and it was time for Mallory to go back home. But this meeting, although short, was just the beginning of a wonderful friendship that we truly cherish. We check in with each other every day, to the point that it feels weird if too much time goes by between talking with one another. As Jarod said, life is a gift, and so was the opportunity to meet, which was all thanks to the Pretender. If it wasn’t for this story, this connection, and this incredible fanmily, we never would never have discovered such a beautiful friendship.
Mallory, Pedro and Vania