Warning: The following contains scenes of nudity, sexuality and coarse language. Viewer discretion is advised.
No, I’m kidding. Honestly, the following post is so free of sin it would make the Pope proud.
I’ve just spent four hours with (okay, in the general proximity of) George Stroumboulopoulos, who has been in Vancouver all week taping The Hour. I scored tickets to tonight’s show and invited my friend Annelle to come with me. But first I made her promise to not look better than I did and make a point of flashing her wedding ring if we got the chance to meet George.
When we arrived at the theatre, it was as if we had stumbled into a casting call for Canada’s Next Top Model. The competition was fierce. There were gorgeous, young girls everywhere. Dammit! Don’t these chicks know that George is the thinking woman’s pin-up boy? Why can’t they lust after Ben Mulroney?
The theatre was almost full and we picked seats about four rows up from the front on the left side. George and the production crew were glued to the TV sets flanking the stage. It was just after 4 p.m. and the prime minister was live on Newsworld addressing the nation.
As soon as Martin’s speech was over, there was a lot of running back and forth by people wearing headsets and carrying sheets of paper. They would run over to George and say something while he bent his head and listened. The room was crackling with excitement and energy.
Then George made an announcement of his own.
"Hey everyone. We’re going to do things a little differently today. Before we do the show, Newsworld wants to break in live in about 15 minutes from now to get some reaction from you guys on what the prime minister just said. So who here has something to say?"
One guy raised his hand and said he wanted to say something about how Martin didn’t speak French. A girl raised her hand and said she wanted to say something about how we need more government accountability. No one else spoke.
George seemed a little frazzled. "Anyone? Anyone? C’mon, I know you guys have strong opinions."
Before I knew what was happening or what I was doing, my arm shot up in the air and I blurted out, "I’ll do it!"
"Okay, cool," George said. "What do you want to say?"
I told him I wanted to say that this whole thing was ridiculous. That the prime minister should have made this announcement in the House of Commons. That this is a Liberal crisis, not a national crisis. If Paul Martin wants to get an unfiltered message out he can buy an ad.
What was I thinking? I’m still cringing about what happened when the cameras started rolling. I haven’t seen the footage and I don’t ever want to see it. It’s too horrifying.
At 4:30 p.m., George faced the camera as Newsworld went live to Vancouver for reaction. He ran up and down the aisles and posed questions to those who volunteered to comment. Somehow he remembered what every single person wanted to say and framed his questions based on the answers we had given him earlier.
As he made his way over to me, I was getting more and more nervous. My heart was pounding and I couldn’t remember what I was going to say. Suddenly, George was looming above me and a camera was thrust in my face. He asked me a question and I started talking into the camera. Then I remembered you’re supposed to look at the person interviewing you, not the camera. But I had to crane my neck to see George.
I butchered my answer. I spoke too quickly. I was too nervous. I was too distracted by his dimples and beautiful, dark brown eyes. I tried to repeat what I had said earlier but it came out all wrong. And then he asked me a follow-up question. A follow-up question! Shit shit shit! It was a hard question, something about the opposition. I don’t even want to remember what I said. It’s too mortifying to think about.
And then he moved on to the next person. I was left sitting there feeling like I had been dropped from the eye of a tornado. I had just made the worst possible first impression on George and, oh yeah, millions of other people too. Idiot!
After the show, the audience was invited to hang out in the lobby to schmooze with George and get their pictures taken with him.
As soon as he walked in the room, he was swarmed by a gaggle of girls. He was very gracious and chatted with them as they giggled and fluffed their hair. I inched closer and closer to their circle but before I could introduce myself a pushy woman elbowed her way in and thrust her teenage daughter in front of George.
She then demanded to know where the coolest place in Vancouver was. George seemed a little confused by her question but told her he liked Zulu Records. She pulled out a pen and paper and asked how to spell it.
"What street is it on? Robson Street?" she asked. This was it! This was my entry!
"It’s on West 4th," I said. George turned to look at me and as soon as he made eye contact, I put my hand on his forearm and introduced myself.
"Hey, George. I just want to say thanks for the tickets. I’m Sarah? From the David Suzuki Foundation?"
"Hi," he said warmly. He then turned his back on the pushy mom and her teenage daughter and the four hot chicks. We talked for a little while. He ordered a .5 beer ("I don’t drink"). He talked about hockey and how he just learned to skate. I told him he should take up swimming. He told me he read my blog the other day but neglected to mention whether that was a good or bad thing.
My mind flashed to all the gushing posts I had written about him and I felt exposed and embarrassed. Shit shit shit!
The conversation ended almost as quickly as it began when a loud woman with a group of teenagers from the YMCA pulled him onto the patio for a group photo.
"You’re not in a rush to go anywhere are you?" he asked me. "Don’t go anywhere. I mean it. I’ll be back."
As George worked the room, I met Kathryn for the first time. I started reading her blog after she left a few comments on mine. She confessed that she found my blog by googling George’s name. She somehow picked me out of the crowd when I was making an ass of myself on national television earlier. She’s officially the first internet friend I have met in person and it was a lot of fun speaking face to face.
After about 45 minutes, I was getting tired of waiting around, watching beautiful girls flirt with George. Someone from CBC was taking Polaroid pictures of George and his fans so I marched over to where he was standing and said, "Can I get one of those?"
He laughed and we chatted a bit more. He asked if I was freaked out by his phone call. I told him to call any time he wanted. We talked about cars and David Suzuki and work and stuff. He was funny and charming and down-to-earth.
We posed for a quick picture. Afterwards he asked if I ever came out to Toronto. I told I was actually from Toronto and that my parents still lived there. I also mentioned that I’d be there for almost two weeks next month.
"Well give me a call when you’re in town," he said. "We don’t have a studio audience in Toronto but you can come down and hang out."
What I wanted to say, but didn’t, was "Why wait until Toronto? What about tonight?" But I chickened out. Besides, it was pushing 7:30 at this point and he was on his way out the door. I thanked him again and wished him well.
On the drive home, Annelle and I were both giddy. "That was so exciting!" she said.
1. George is even more gorgeous in person.
2. That McBain guy who reads the emails on the show is really short. He looks tall on camera but is quite small in real life. George, who looks short on camera, isn’t short at all.
3. George needs tighter jeans. His baggy jeans do not flatter his ass.
4. George has a razor sharp wit. He is charismatic, charming and genuinely nice.
5. George makes his job look easy. It’s not. It’s bloody hard work to think on your feet and come off sounding smart at the same time. I’m impressed. And smitten.