But then it did happen. It really did.
|Simon Loves Boo|
So how did I meet him? Well, in an act of incredible foresight and cunning, my husband and I befriended an awesome American couple called Melanie and Michael by a pool in Fiji about seven years ago. We immediately clicked, our kids all got on brilliantly, and we've been close ever since.Mike became an Emmy award winning TV director, and Mel turned out to be a childhood friend of Robin Tunney, who plays Simon Baker's boss in The Mentalist.
In other words, contacts, my friends. It's all about contacts.
Mike and Mel organised a visit to The Mentalist set for my family during our visit to the States as a very special treat for me (and because I kind of begged them). Still, I didn't allow myself to believe it was going to happen until we were actually driving to the Warner Brothers lot, following the detailed instructions that Mike had emailed. And then it hit me.
"We're going to meet Simon Baker!" I yelled excitedly at the kids.
"Er, okay," said my son.
"You love Simon Baker!" said my daughter.
"I love Simon Bacon!" chorused Boo.
We showed our ID to the security guard at the gate and were issued with special passes, which was terribly exciting. Special passes! Oh my god! It was really happening!
Mike and Mel were waiting for us in the carpark, looking remarkably composed for people about to meet Simon Baker. (The fact that Mike has worked with a range of huge stars from Sarah Jessica Parker to Matt Dillon to Chloe Sevigny didn't seem relevant to me at all, given that none of them were Simon Baker.)
As we walked together to the stage where The Mentalist is shot, I began mentally rehearsing what I would say to Simon when I saw him. "Hey, you're my celebrity crush!" "Hello, I am a great fan of your work." "Because of your ads, I bank with ANZ!" "Hi, I fantasize about you when I'm having sex!" Hmmm. None of them seemed quite right. What about...
Suddenly, Mike interrupted my reverie.
"There they are!"
Huh? Who? Oh my god. THEM. It was them! Simon and Robin, walking right towards us. Robin was wearing her Mentalist costume of low-waisted pants and shirt; Simon was wearing his Patrick Jane three piece suit. And a luscious mane of blonde hair.
"Hi," said Robin, and kissed Mike and Mel, then turned to me and The Architect. "How are you?" she asked. "I'm Robin."
"Hi," I said, trying really hard to focus on her and not Simon. She was lovely. Okay, done. Simon time. I turned to look at him. He was gorgeous.
"Hi," said Simon, and held out his hand.
"I love you!" I cried, and kissed him full on the mouth.
Okay, not really. I'm not that ridiculous. "Hi," I said. "I'm Kerri Sackville." We shook hands. I felt good. I was in control. It was Simon, and he was gorgeous, but I was okay. So I proved I was okay. I started to talk. And once I started I couldn't stop, because I talk a lot when I'm nervous. Actually, I talk a lot all the time.
"I'm a writer," I told Simon. "I write a blog, and I write columns, and I write about you a lot." I paused for breath. "I wrote a book, too, about marriage and motherhood? And you're mentioned in it eleven times, and I brought a copy for you, but I'm not like a mad stalker or anything, it's just my thing, you know? Like Nutella? People know that I like you and I like Nutella? And I wish I'd been in the Young Talent Team. Remember the Young Talent Team?" (Yes, people, I really did say that.)
Simon held up his hand to stop me, and smiled. "I know who you are," he said. "I googled you."
Of course. He googled me.
HE GOOGLED ME.
Simon Baker googled me. That made me feel very, very good.
"Okay," I said, and grinned. "So can I have a picture with you?"
"Don't worry," Simon said. "There'll be plenty of time for that."
All right, then. If Simon says don't worry, I won't worry.
We all stood around chatting for a bit and I thought of some other spectacular things to say.
"Love the show," I told Simon, "but I'm REALLY loving those ANZ ads."
"Oh stop it," he said, and laughed. (Yes, I made him laugh.)
"Oh God," he said, and looked absolutely mortified.
Just then, ten year old Pinkela spoke up.
"Do you know that my little sister calls you Simon Bacon?" she asked.
"Simon Bacon!" chorused Boo. As you do.
Just then, Robin and Simon were called in for rehearsal. The Architect, the kids and I were shown inside the stage, and were given a chance to walk around The Mentalist set. It was utterly surreal to be sitting in the rooms I watch on TV, particularly the couch used by Patrick Jane.
|Loving the couch|
Eventually we were all ushered into a room, set up with headsets, and invited to watch the filming on video monitors, along with the director, makeup artists, script supervisors and other crew members. We were seated on director chairs with 'The Mentalist' written on the back, just like they use in Hollywood. Because... well... we were in Hollywood. I watched, entranced, as they filmed the same scene about 27 times from different angles, until I knew the whole scene backwards, and silently corrected Simon when he fluffed his lines.
|Behind the scenes|
During each break in filming Simon came and chatted to us, and I lapped up his words like the little puppy dog I am. After we'd been hanging around the set for about forty minutes, he beckoned to my kids.
"Come on guys, I want to show you something," he said. The kids followed him. I followed them. The Architect followed me. We all followed Simon. Simon said come on, so we came.
Simon showed my kids the backdrop behind the windows of the sets, and the lights that come on during nighttime scenes to replicate the night sky. Pinkela showed him her cartoons, and he signed an autograph for her. He seemed to love Boo, even when she persisted in calling him Simon Bacon, and he answered all of my son's questions graciously.
Simon chatted to The Architect and I for twenty minutes or more. We talked about the U.S. college system, about health care in America, about his love of Australia, about the paparazzi, and about the people who shop at Costco. I gave him a copy of my book, and told him that his wife would definitely enjoy it.
"Except that I think she's trying to get away from thinking about me," he pointed out, which just goes to prove that one woman's Simon Baker is just another woman's boring old non-fantasy material husband.
Finally, Simon posed for some photos, taken by The Architect, first with me, and then with me and the kids.
|Simon Says Smile|
"Dad's been replaced!" my son called out, and we all laughed, for he had no idea how right he was. (The Architect, however, probably had a fair idea.)
Simon was called back onto set, and we all trooped back to say our goodbyes. Just as I was repeating for the fifth time how lovely it was to meet him, the makeup artist came up and began powdering his nose.
"Oh great," said Simon, rolling his eyes, "I look so manly," and though I don't usually love a man in makeup, he looked pretty great to me.
"Don't worry," I said. "I'm sure you don't wake up in the morning looking like that." And then I pointed to his famous locks. "I'm sure your hair doesn't wake up in the morning looking like that either."
"It does!" he protested. "Touch it! You'll see!"
Simon said to touch his hair. Simon said to touch his hair! So I touched his hair. I even gave it a little tug. It was, indeed, very luscious.
I left Simon with a spring in my step, memories to last a lifetime, and some excellent pictures for Facebook. And the meeting was everything I could have dreamed it to be, if I ever had actually dreamed it would happen.
The weird thing, though, is that for a brief moment there, when he was chatting so easily with us, Simon Baker stopped being Simon Baker to me. I mean, don't get me wrong - the man is beautiful. But he was clearly normal. He is open, personable, and a genuine, down to earth, Aussie guy who appreciates his good fortune and can laugh at himself. He speaks with a regular Aussie accent - not the American accent of the ANZ ads - and could have been any Aussie expat who has become successful in the United States. He is a celebrity, but he is also just a normal person, who gets embarrassed, loves little kids, tells anecdotes about his family, and misses home. He is a normal person, and it is hard, if not impossible, to fantasize wildly about someone who is clearly just a normal guy.
Ah, who am I kidding. The man is a god. Simon, my fantasies live on. Thank you.
And to Mike and Mel, I love you guys xxxxxxxxxxxxx