HIMMGF – Part 14 – J&J meet R&R and No Tomorrow Launch Party

Here is the next installment of How I Met My Girlfriend! Links to previous parts: Prologue | 1 | 2 | 3 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12| 13

When Rose and Rosie first released tour dates for their documentary premiere and book signing, I thought I wouldn’t be able to go. London date was set just before my arrival in the UK, and I’d even already texted Jas to tell her the bad news. Unlike myself though, Jas read the whole list of dates and cities (instead of quitting after London), and found that one of the last dates on the tour was in Norwich, just a short train away. So R&R was the first thing we had properly planned.

We decided to make a day trip out of going to Norwich and spent most of our time window shopping at the malls. Last time we were here Jas and I made build-a-bears, and Jas cried like an idiot when the worker (no older than ourselves) said to make a wish before putting the heart inside the teddy.

I peered into the closed Coleman’s mustard shop I went to in 2016 and longed to buy another jar of a locally made hickory smoke flavor. When Jas told me the shop closed earlier in the year, I’d been crushed. That hickory smoke mustard was one of the things I’d been most excited to come back to—along with Yorkshire puddings, Kinder Buenos, and bacon super noodles.

As we waited in line for Rose and Rosie outside the venue, a guy in his later 20s strolled up the sidewalk. His huge, fluffy dog had everyone—myself included—turning their heads and reaching their hands out for a pat. He told us a story about his dog and asked what we were all in line for. A girl behind us told him we were waiting to meet a pair of famous gay youtubers. The dogwalker looked up and down the line as we all continued stroking his dog.“This is a line of lesbians, isn’t it?”

We all chuckled and nodded, white clouds of our laughs barely lingering in the streetlights before diffusing. He squinted down the line for a second. “I don’t recognize any of you though,” he said with a flick of his hair. “I’m a queen myself,” he explained. We laughed and nodded again, and he shared another story about his dog before walking further up the line, being stopped by more girls wanting to pet the fluffy pooch. I heard a girl loudly exclaim, “How did you know I’m gay???” from further up.

Jas and I had to catch our return train at 11 that night, and I had no idea how long this event lasted. So, after buying a pair of matching merch t-shirts, we opted to sit near the back of the documentary show to get into the book line quickest.

The film itself wasn’t what I expected. It wasn’t really about R&R, but instead highlighted different individuals whose lives were impacted by their videos. Very wholesome and definitely something I would love to sit down with my mom and watch together. The Q&A after the film truly resembled your typical R&R video with all the standard plot devices:

  1. Rose talked over Rosie several times.
  2. Rosie demanded that she tell the story.
  3. Life updates (re: kids).
  4. Rosie made a dumb comment.
  5. Rose made fun of the dumb comment for laughs.
  6. Soft appreciation for each other, the fans, and the community.
  7. Immediately followed up with several appearances from Rose’s huge ego.
  8. An impromptu rap.

Luckily, they didn’t reference the book too much because I’d only arrived in the country (where my book was) a couple of days before the event. The only reading Jas and I finished before getting the book signed was what I read out loud to her on the train to see them.

Afterward, I rushed us to the front of the signing line, with only a handful of people in front of us. Apart from Dodie, I hadn’t actually spoken to someone famous before. And even though I adore Dodie, I’ve been watching and loving Rose and Rosie a lot longer, so I was completely freaking out.

I had barely any time to prepare myself or had any idea what to say. Of course, after the fact I kept thinking about how I should’ve told them that my younger brother loves watching their “Let’s Play Games” channel with me, or that I can’t wait to watch the documentary with my mom, or that my favorite video of all time is the one where Rosie has a full-on breakdown over Dumbo.

Jas and Jess pose with a photo with Rose and Rosie. All four women are smiling. Jess' cheek is close to Rose' cheek. Rosie is holding the book titled, Overshare.
Left to right: Rose, Me, Jas, Rosie.

Their tour manager took Jas’ phone to snap a picture of us together. I looked at Rosie as I put my book on the table. “Excellent rap!” I half-shouted, accompanied with a cringe-worthy finger “okay” sign. Rosie did a facepalm, which I’m now only hoping was self-induced.

Rose looked at my name, written on a sticky note in the page for her to sign. “Is it Jess-ee?”

“Yep!”

“I love it. Did you read the book then??”

I looked sideways at Jas. “We’re,,,getting there.”

“Oh, you haven’t read it?” Rose raised both her eyebrows in faux-disgust. “Fake fans,” she muttered before the four of us laughed.

Jas and I crouched beside them for our photos. It was only until I looked back at the pictures did I realize just how close my own cheek was to Rose’s.

We had so much time to kill after the event before our train, so we went to Five Guys and spent just as much money on a drink as we did on our grilled cheeses. (Which is a killer to me, considering I could get a large drink at Mickie Ds for $1 at home). We colored little cards to hang on the bulletin just like we did when we visited a Five Guys after Pride in 2016.

Jesse holds up a crayon drawing in a Five Guys. The drawing is a cheeseburger with rainbow fixings. The drawing states, Jas and Jesse, 2016. Five Guys Burgers and Pride.
Five Guys in 2016.
Jesse holds a crayon drawing in a Five Guys. The drawing has a solid yellow background and states, R and R. 2018. J plus J.
Five Guys in 2018.

The next week, Jas and I traveled back to London to attend the launch of the second Killing Eve novel with Luke and a few of our friends. It was this trip to London where I finally—after several years—met my friend, Steph, for the first time. I’d known Steph for ages, for as long as I’ve known Jas. And although we haven’t been as close over the years as we have recently, I’d been wanting to meet Steph for a long time and was pretty disappointed when a meetup didn’t work out in 2016.

Jas and Jess pose with their friend, Steph. Jas and Jess are smiling. Steph makes a pouty face.
Left to right: Jas, me, Steph.

Steph was just as delightful and genuine in person as he appears online. And he’s even cooler too if you can believe it. As we sat in his bedroom, chatting about Killing Eve and twitter and other queer stuff, we couldn’t help but note how completely natural it felt. Like maybe we’d spent years already doing this. He’s the kind of person that puts you at ease and has a sort of immunity against dead air in the conversation.

Just as we got to the tube station into central London to get drinks and meet our friend, Gloria, before the launch party, Jas announced that she left her ID in Steph’s bedroom. He assured her that they won’t even ask for it if someone else is buying the drinks.

The pubs were packed this evening, and we settled for standing in our second choice of the night, waiting while Steph got drinks for Jas and himself. While waiting for a table, an employee asked for our IDs. Gloria and I handed over our passports, both showing over 18. When he looked at Jas, I interjected with a, “She doesn’t have hers,” and to my surprise, he said“Okay,” shrugged, and walked off. If the same scenario took place in a bar in my college town at home, we would’ve been kicked out for sure. Yet, when Steph returned, we found a table and Jas had her half a pint.

The launch party was in a beautiful art gallery, decorated with a table of book copies and wine glasses for the evening. Luke greeted us with hugs all around and introduced us to his family. I knew Luke had a daughter, but oddly assumed she was much younger—like an actual child. I was way off. His daughter was beautiful and tall, perhaps slightly younger than myself, I guessed as she talked to us about her studies at Oxford.

As more people joined the party, I steadily sipped my glass of Prosecco. It didn’t take too long for the alcohol to make the mingling easier. (Don’t worry I kept myself at a classy two and a half glasses.) Another one of our friends—Nia—joined us at the gallery (which was unexpected but exciting!) Luke introduced us to many people, most of which asked about how we all met. Steph usually took the lead with our complicated story:

Once upon a Tumblr, all the gays got addicted to Orphan Black. Steph and Jas became friends. Steph and I become (kinda) friends. Jas and I became girlfriends. We all recently met Gloria and Nia through Twitter and our love for Killing Eve, same as how we now know Luke.

Except Steph left out the girlfriend part, which I’d noticed after the second or third storytime session. “I don’t want to out you two without asking first,” he’d mentioned to us. It’s a courtesy cishet people rarely think about extending, even if they mean well. It’s something I try to be conscious of myself, either by talking to people secondhand or posting pictures from Pride events. We assured Steph that he had our permission to include the girlfriend part.

A lot of guests we talked to seemed genuinely interested in us as people, not just as the fans Luke invited. They asked about where we were from, what we do for work, what we want to do. They laughed with us and drank with us and made us feel like a very integrated part of the event.

Left to right: Nia, Steph, Gloria, Luke, me, Catherine Mayer, Jas

We had a fangirl moment when Luke introduced us to Olivia Ross, the actress who plays Nadia in the series. She’d been just as lovely as everyone else we met that night and told us that she hadn’t seen the end of the show yet, to which we were all shocked about. (And even more so, that the ending hadn’t been spoiled for her yet.) I think part of Steph died when Olivia touched his arm when she said goodbye to us.

Luke gave a little speech to thank everyone. He covered all the people you’d think he would: his family, his friends, his manager, and of course, his fans. The five of us smiled at one another, as if he was talking directly to us.

Even as we said goodbye Luke thanked us for coming, it still felt a little surreal. I’ve never been to a launch party before. And I’d definitely never been to a launch party for a book that I’m falling in love with, or one for a story that’s been turned into a show that I’m currently obsessed with, or one for an author who’d invited me himself. Luke Jennings is one of the most generous, genuine, kind-hearted people I’ve known. It’s incredibly inspiring to know him and to be known by him. The night of his party was the best night I’ve had this year.

The fanclub grabs a Pizza Hut after the party. Left to right: Steph, Gloria, Nia, Jas, me.

Just days later, I celebrated my very first bonfire night. Jas’ hometown puts on a firework show every year for the holiday, so she took me to the weekend event before the fifth. Other than Fourth of July lakeside fireworks, I’ve never actually been to a proper firework show. And this one was absolutely stunning. People flocked over a large, steep hill, one so big that it could’ve doubled as a beginner’s ski slope. From the bottom, fireworks streaked up and cracked over us, sometimes in sync with one of the several songs blaring from the speakers. We sipped hot chocolate and ate a bag of cotton candy (or as the Brits say, candy floss).

Jas and I also went on our first ever double date! We joined a friend Jas has known since high school and her boyfriend for a dinner at Frankie & Benny’s. (For my Americans out there, it’s just your typical restaurant—offering up a variety of pastas, burgers, and other standard entrees.) We all got on really well, making jokes and picking at each other (mostly the only man at the table—sorry Glenn).

This time around, people who are friends with Jas and other people I’ve known through twitter have made a huge effort to make plans with us and spend time with me, and I have been so grateful to feel so completely welcomed by not only Jas’ family, but by the other people in our lives here. It makes me feel like, when we get to that point where I’m staying for more than a few months, I can make a real life here and build friendships without using Jas as a crutch. (Though I think we’d still be inseparable even then.) It’s not just Jas here that I love now. I love her family, her cats, her friends, our friends. And this love has grown a lot in just a few week’s time.

Read Part 15: Jas and I (and our friend Harri) encounter some scary stuff: London tombs and a sixty-year-old drunk woman.

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