Loving FAH: Some Rambling (or not so rambling) Thoughts
I didn’t think that I would write anything on this trip to the UK to see three of FAH’s shows and to visit FAHn friends and others, but I am going to write something, perhaps more personal than I usually do about my experiences at the meet & greets in the Corn Exchange theatre in Cambridge, the New Theatre in Oxford, and the Lowry in Salford. I don’t usually speak so publicly about my experiences with the lads, but, well, why not? I’m interested in trying to figure out FAH and how important they are to my life. I have also been thinking about my feelings concerning FAH and what it means to love them and to have a favorite. The question in this essay that I don’t want to ask is: what is love? This is an entirely inadequate question. The question is more WHY do I have particular feelings for FAH that I can only describe as love.
I’ve been in love. I know what that love feels like. To be in love is its own obsession sometimes, has its own parameters of give and take with another person. Presumably, but not always, being in love is living together, sharing a home, housework, pets, children, caring for extended family members, owning similar objects, having similar hobbies, likes, dislikes, and the list goes on. Being in love is about commitment to another person. This person can be of the same sex as you or of a different sex. The relationship can incorporate different religious, cultural, ethnic, socio-economic, or class backgrounds. One can fall in love for all sorts of reasons: from sexual/physical attraction, to devotion, to a person’s personality traits, characteristics, or any facet of all that and in between. So, the point I’m trying to make here, is that I understand what being “in love” means.
This FAH love is not that. So, what is it? Well, one way to enter into a discussion about FAH love, specifically MY FAH love is to discuss my experiences at the meet and greets.
The first show I saw was on October 26, 2023 at the Corn Exchange in Cambridge. I’m in the meet and greet line with my friend Sue Cole and also Cathryn Stocker. Sue has just gone before us and I’m taking Cathryn’s photo with FAH. Then it is my turn to go up and talk to them. Interestingly, Hog has already made eye contact with me and smiled, though the other two have not even appeared to see me. However, I am sure they are aware of my presence. This is the very first time since I met Hog on April 15, 2022 that he has ever been overtly friendly to me at all. I’ve been most worried about seeing Hog again because my exchanges with him have not been very good or felt at all easy or fun. In fact, I’ve had moments with him that have been downright uncomfortable. In the past, I’ve felt that he never quite knew what to say to me or how to respond to my energy at the meet and greets. I’ve never thought he liked me very much. I feel that the interviews with him are totally different because I make sure to engage with him first and give him the privilege of being included more than the other two lads – in a way – in my initial questions. However, in the long run, I’ve always been conscious of feeling on the outs with Hog, so Cambridge was a lovely change and it really surprised me and made me feel more at ease with him.
When it is my turn to move forward, I walk up to the lads and say hi and start in on what I need them to know (I’ve already planned ahead of time what I’m going to say to them.) They stand around me in a semi-circle and it is just me and them. They are looking at me like I’m the only person who matters in the whole world. They have shut out everyone else and all eyes are on me. It is an amazing, intoxicating feeling to be in that semi-circle of men, just looking at me and paying not a whit of attention to anyone else. It is a delicious, wonderful moment and that is part of the power of FAH and of FAH love, or at least “my FAH love”. They are able to make every single person who comes into their space, into their line of sight, feel as if they are the only person in the world who matters. They are looking at me and I at them and they are listening intently to what I am saying, which is: “I have some very special, personal presents for Seán, Seán and Conor (and I point to them when I say their names.) And I can give them all to you now, or I can just give Hog his” and I turn to Hog and look him directly in the eyes when I say this. I feel that he is totally surprised by this gesture. It seems he believes that his friends will be first in my line of sight and in my giving, as if he knows that he will always be last with me or even more sad, last with all fahns.
I feel that in this moment he thinks that his friends will get the attention before him, but I’ve already decided long ago that I want Hog to have his special present first before the other two. And Foil and Arms agree as well, “yes, give Hog his present first,” they say and watch and wait to see what happens. So, then I produce Hog’s present and he doesn’t quite get it open the first time, but then when he finally encounters it, he says: “Barbara, you gave me a knife” when he opens the blade of the multi-tool and when I point out that it says “clean as you go” on it, he jokes back to me, “kill as you go,” and it is a very relaxed moment that is quite lovely. And I feel like this might be a turning point for me and Hog and that maybe there won’t be so many awkward moments in our future. Not just because I gave Hog a present, but because it is clear that I have thought about Hog the performer, but also Seán, the person, the human being and considered what he might want as a present that would be useful and something that he would like a lot. I get the feeling that he understands how thoughtful I’ve been and this matters to him.
Meet and greets always feel rushed to me, but in reality, some of them are more rushed than others. The only ones that have never felt too rushed are those in Vicar Street, but maybe that is because I figured out fairly quickly that the lads do come out into the alleyway and we are able to chat to them again after the show. The meet and greet in London, April 29, 2022 was also lovely when I had at least a 5 – 7 minute conversation with Foil, alone. But nothing will beat my meet and greet in Oxford on October 27, 2023 – or at least nothing quite yet because I will see them again, of course!
This was the Foil focused meet and greet when I gave him his present. This was also plotted out with my friend Sue. She was my wing-woman (so to speak) in this meet and greet because she distracted Duck – who was on Merch – so that I could give Foil his wood watch. Duck offered to take the present, but I said I wanted Foil to see it and Duck said okay. He was very relaxed about the whole thing. When I walked up to Foil and gave him the watch box and he opened it, he was absolutely blown away by the present. His voice changed instantly to one of soothing awe. I honestly don’t know how else to explain how he sounded. He said, “a wood watch!” in that way that I knew he understood how lovely and amazing the gift was for him. He said that I was “so generous” and he said this several times. He took it out right away and I showed him that it was inscribed “Doomdah” on the back and he put it on immediately in front of Arms, who watched the whole thing.
Foil was so lovely and kind and sweet and amazing. And then I got those pictures of him and the lads, posing because I asked them for new pictures for my website. Foil said, “oh, I’ve got to get the watch in the picture” and that’s when he did the poses. Honestly, in the moment, I had no idea what he was doing because I was just snapping away and wanted to get some good shots. And then I got my photos with them, making sure to give Foil a good squeeze.
In this meet and greet in Oxford, Hog called me Babs, which I thought was super sweet and he was in high energy and good spirits. This was the show of all three that Hog had lots of energy (this is my very personal opinion, based on what I saw on stage and what I’ve experienced before with Hog in other shows, in other places around the world.)
The final meet and greet in Salford was very rushed but Arms had to get his present of his field notes wallet. I didn’t get to spend as much time with Arms talking to him about his present because I was rushing and I didn’t talk to Hog at all. I showed Arms the present and he looked at it and opened it, and I said, “it is all handmade.” And then, dear reader, I can’t remember much at all. I hope I wasn’t rude to Arms because all I remember is turning to Foil and asking for things that I had planned for a long time to ask.
Foil was sort of caught off guard – not in a terrible way, but he is a man who has to plan and think and I wasn’t in his future plans up until that very instance of inserting myself into his life – he usually needs time to decide and I’m forcing him to decide immediately. I ask the 1st question. “Yes,” says Foil. 2nd question. “Yes,” says Foil. 3rd question. A pause, thinking very, very quickly on his feet. A second pause. I say, “please?” with a bit of hesitation on my part because I know what I’m asking him is major and he hasn’t had a moment to think about it or ponder and I can see on his face that he’s trying to figure out what to say. And I say, “I’ve got some new ideas” for the request that I’m making and again, I see him hesitate. And then he says, “Yes. In the new year?” And of course, I say “Yes” to that!
Then I ask the final question, the all-important one, which will make or break this exchange, and that is “can I have permission to write him” – because if I don’t have permission to write to him, nothing can occur between us at all. I won’t just write him because there won’t be any way to move forward with trust or dignity. And he says “yes” immediately to this request, so now I feel okay. And then we move on to me telling him how incredibly brilliant the Hogwash show is and how I think it is the absolute best show they’ve ever done. Foil responds that it has been wonderful to be able to spend time on a show in a way they’ve never been able to do before.
After my very short exchange with Foil, I ask them to sign a FAH notebook for me – on the front of the cover. Foil questions this because they’ve been signing inside covers but I want to see their signatures always – out, loud and proud – so they sign. As Foil is signing, Hog reaches out and touches my fuzzy purple jacket. The fact that he is touching me is so interesting and it feels gentle, kind, lovely, peaceful – so many feelings in that one touch that I have a hard time putting them all down and explaining how I felt in that moment. But he touches my purple fuzzy jacket and says something about how we are matching and we kind of are matching in colors that we’re wearing. But it’s another Hog moment that helps me feel more connected to him and that also amazes me.
And then hugs. Okay. I’m a hugger. And I mean, a serious hugger or should I say, a serial hugger. I don’t fuck around with hugs. I hug a person and really squeeze them. I’ve always been this way and I’m even more so with fahn friends and FAH. I get the most wonderful, deep squeeze from Arms, who also says “thank you for my present” into my ear. Oh, that is a lovely moment. And then I turn to Foil and get another wonderful squeezy hug and I say “thank you” to him and I really squeeze him and he hugs me back. Both Arms and Foil are good squeezy huggers – like they lean into me and hug me – no holds barred on the hugs with those two. If I squeeze, they squeeze. Foil is super solid these days because he’s clearly been working out. This is very different than when I hugged him back in April 2022 at Vicar Street. He was like hugging a bag of bones then. Now. Well, he’s something different. Very solid. Strong. And finally, there is the Hog hug – and all this time I’ve said to the lads, “huggies” – and turned to each one saying this. And now I turn to Hog and I say, “huggies” and he says back to me, “Hoggy huggies” and it is the most lovely moment, but Hog’s hug is more of a pat than a squeeze. Well, I guess we’re not to the squeezing department yet, but that’s okay. My meet and greet time is over and I’m out of there.
And then all the fahn friends gather together for pictures – or we forget to take pictures! Sigh. But then there’s the “come down” time and that’s when we parse everything that we’ve seen on the stage, talk about the lads, the meet and greet time, everything.
And then there’s the afterwards. The real afterwards. The knowledge of not seeing the lads again. Not seeing the show, or them, or friends, or feeling like I’m in a community or even knowing when I’ll see anyone again at all. It gets very sad, actually, and I find that I go in waves of feeling even quite depressed and missing people so much. But when I miss FAH, I feel this deep-seated sadness mixed with love and now it is the love that I want to try to figure out because I don’t know quite how to describe it or explain it or even know what I mean when I say that I love FAH.
But I will say this: Foil is my favorite. And when I say favorite, I realize that on a more complex level, he is the one whom I love the most. I love them all, of course, but Foil, well, the love is stronger, deeper, more intense. And that, dear reader, probably gets messy in both the language and the emotions department, but here I go to try to figure it all out.
As I said above, I totally know what it is like to be “in love” with someone and that is not my Foil love. My first inkling that I loved Foil was when we started to write to each other back in June 2020 on Patreon messaging. The fact that he was so thoughtful in his responses to me made him wildly attractive. A man who writes me and in (practically) complete sentences (and with few grammar errors) is such a turn on. I think I can honestly say that Foil writing to me that year very much mimics the same feelings that I had when I stood in Cambridge with three men looking at me, giving me all of their attention. I’m sure somewhere in this mix is the fact that Foil Arms and Hog are also incredibly handsome and attractive men. I wouldn’t be honest with myself if I didn’t acknowledge that being in the mix. But where to next?
This is harder to figure out, really. My correspondence with Foil ended in June 2021, but I still felt love for him. It wasn’t like that love fell away or dissipated; no, it hung on, and in a way, grew stronger. Perhaps that was because of the first long interview that I did with him and the lads in May 2021. But I think it was because I was writing about him. My fahn fiction brings me closer to the lads – all of them – but I especially love writing about Foil because I feel closest to him.
The other part of my love for Foil is the time he offers me. Time is a commodity for the lads; it is precious and takes energy to give. This is especially true at the meet and greets after shows; they’re on a time clock at a theatre. There may be security or rules about when people have to leave their jobs. Time may be about the number of people waiting to see them, or how good they feel, or what Duck needs them to do and so on. So, I feel that if Foil (and the lads) take time out of their lives to give something to me, I know that I matter to them. Or at least I FEEL like I matter to Foil when he responds to an email or gets back to me of his own accord or even if he makes me a video or commits to do something for me. Then I know that I have crossed his mind; I am on his radar, his to do list, and I’ve been brought into his orbit and in this way, I am in his brain and thoughts.
Whether he sees and understands time this way is a very different point. And anyway, how would I know unless I ask him and I’m not going to do that because this isn’t really about Foil, now, is it? It’s about me. Okay, onward!
So, writing, interviews, Foil reading my analytical essays about their work, and my fahn fiction, and him giving me time all contribute to me loving him. However, I still haven’t quite said what I think this love is or what the parameters are to it or its characteristics. Though, in this essay, I’m not sure I will be able to figure out completely and absolutely what this love for Foil is – I sort of see it as a rolling, changing, evolving mass of feelings that cannot be absolutely pinpointed and made to stay in one place. I do know that when I write about him or think about him, I get a very warm feeling that is about contentment. And I think this is the case because there really isn’t any true commitment. I get to love without anything being asked of me. The love is all about what I feel and what I choose to do with it or how I choose to be, act, live, function.
The love I have for Foil is about my own control, my own feelings of desire, my own path, journey, life, knowledge of myself. As a recipient of my love, he gets the best of me: the kind, thoughtful, giving, professional, personal, respectful fahn who buys merch to give away to others. I support them on Patreon, I buy tickets to see their live show, I always put my love for FAH out into the world and make sure people know about them. So, I am committing to them, but in my own way. This is a no strings attached love. I can love him or leave him, as I see fit, and those parameters suit me right now. But still . . . at times I am tormented by that very love that I sustain and harbor in my heart.
So, is it a win/win or a lose/lose or both to be a fahn and to love FAH?