Sarah Blair introduces us to her X-Phile fandom…
Over 20 years ago, a little show called The X-Files premiered on FOX television network. I was 11 years old, and still thought a kid named Urkel was funny. That particular night, all those years ago, I had no idea that a show I wasn’t watching would change my life forever.
Unfortunately, I was one of those annoying kids who did everything opposite of whatever was “popular” so as soon as I heard people talk about this show, I made the decision that I would absolutely not take part. Every time my cousin mentioned how awesome it was, I replied with, “Mulder and Scully? What kind of weirdo names are those?”
Okay, I was a total idiot. I didn’t miss out on many episodes but missing even one at all, I soon found out, was too many.
One Friday night, the phone rang and my best buddy Jessica said, “Sarah! I’m home alone and I’m watching The X-Files and it’s dark in my house and I’m so scared! Turn it on and watch with me!”
So I did.
The episode was “The Calusari.” It scared the crap out of me. It was also the most amazing show I’d ever watched ever. And holey buckets this dude called Mulder was goooood looking. An obsession was born. Here are a few true facts about me as relate to The X-Files:
*My first car was a Ford Taurus.
*I painted a giant black X on my wall exactly like the one in the opening credits.
*I carried around packs of David Sunflower seeds everywhere I went.
*I played The X-Files drinking game with plain ‘ol iced tea because I didn’t know what a drinking game actually was and I figured that’s what Mulder would have done.
*I take my coffee with milk and no sugar because I remember reading somewhere that’s how Scully likes her coffee. (Note: I can’t remember where I read this. It very likely could have been a fanfic, or an Unauthorized guidebook. Either way it stuck with me. I also hope it’s true, because I actually do enjoy my coffee this way.)
*I made my debut on the World Wide Web using the AOL screen name BigBlue82.
There have been many fandoms that I’ve geeked out about in my life, but The X-Files was my very first. It’s a special thing when you experience an addiction so intense you quite literally just. can’t. get. enough.
I bought every guide book, authorized and unauthorized. If Mulder and Scully were on the cover of a magazine, I snatched it up without even blinking. If I saw anything with an alien or an X on it? Into my stash it went.
All those nights I spent frantically trying to record the show on my VCR, keeping meticulous track of every episode name and what tape it was on in a green notebook with a big X taped on the front, and I never once imagined I’d be able to hold each episode in my pocket to pull out and watch any time I wanted, almost anywhere I wanted, on my phone. My inner teenage Sarey, still can’t wrap her brain around that.
When the movie came out, our local radio station held a special premiere party, and I stayed glued to the radio for an entire week trying to win tickets. I was desperate to be the 100th caller, but no matter how fast I dialed, no matter how many times I hit redial, I couldn’t make it happen. The day of the premiere finally arrived and I was ticketless and heartbroken.
Being an Aries, the idea that other people in Knoxville would see this movie before I would was absolutely unbearable.
So I called the request line at the radio station and begged the DJ if he would please, please, please with whipped cream and a cherry on top give me tickets?
And… he did!
Thinking back on that night, it’s hard to remember much of anything other than the way my heart actually stopped when that black oil filled the screen and the logo came up.
It was all kind of a blur, really. But the coolest thing about that night? There were around 340 people in that movie theater, and one of them turned out to be the man I would grow up to marry. We didn’t know each other yet, but we were both there in that same room for 121 minutes. Maybe I’m a sap, but I think that’s pretty special.
Chris Carter has mentioned many times how he was inspired by a show called Kolchak: The Night Stalker. Well, Mr. Carter, you went on to inspire millions more with your very own show. There are many reasons I’m a writer today. The X-Files is very high on the list of those reasons. It taught me so much about suspense and pacing, characters and storytelling, and how to develop and add depth to plot.
Some of the first stories I ever wrote were pieces of (very terrible) fanfiction. But the thing about writing is that you have to write a lot to get better. So practicing writing with Mulder and Scully, helped me hone my craft and gave me the ability to test the waters with my very own characters. The dark, mysterious world of The X-Files, helped me see the world in a different way so that I would be able to create my own mysterious world filled with paranormal creatures. I love The X-Files, and I wanted to read a book that would make my inner fangirl swoon, the only thing was, I had to write it first.
I owe a lot to this show. It’s been an integral part of my existence, it’s shaped who I’ve become as an adult, how I view the world around me, how I interpret current events, and I’m so excited that the internet and current technology has made it possible for me to connect with other fans and share so many insights about this amazing experience.
Sarah will be a regular contributor to the blog. You can find her on Twitter @SarahLBlair.