T-hopefully fewer than 6 days to end of move and counting

Mr. Thornton (Richard Armitage) orders Williams to “get that woman out of here,” in North & South, episode 1. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

The the real Richard Armitage shouting at Servetus and telling her to stop blogging dream is back. This time in my parents’ living room. Uch.

Below, this afternoon’s fantasy.


John Standring (Richard Armitage) and Carol Standring née Bolton (Sarah Smart), moving John into Sparkhouse Farm, in Sparkhouse, episode 3. Source: Richard Armitage Central Gallery.

As I’m packing, I try to conjure up an Armitage fantasy and nothing comes. This failure is really upsetting; I’ve managed most of the really troublesome moments of the last year and a half with the help of an image of Armitage or one of his characters in my brain and a story or a conversation that develops around it. It’s amazing the effect that the mere notion of Armitage has on me. But today: nothing.

OK. I’m going to have to get through this by dint of my own nerves. As I hunker down into the final stages of packing — putting clothes in suitcases, taping boxes, taking out items for trash and recycling — I first notice John Standring, then John Porter, among the boxes. Standring is wrinkling his brow; Porter is whistling as he hefts one of the cases of books. OK, I think, the fantasies are not gone. You must just be really stressed. I try to pursue them further, though, and they evaporate. Resigned, I turn back to the boxes.

Around 12:30 I’m finished and all that’s left is to wait for the movers. Nowhere left to sit, as I’ve given away all my chairs. I lean against the wall and close my eyes, and finally, someone Armitage-shaped comes to me but I’m not exactly sure who.

“Who are you?” I say, focusing my eyes to figure out who it is.

“Who do you want me to be?” comes the reply.

I drop my head. Why is this so uncomfortable, all of a sudden?

My Morning Jacket’s “Holdin’ On to Black Metal” comes on on the local NPR station.

“Come on, you’ve never been shy with me, smart girl” the figure says. “Not in your fantasies.”

“Let’s dance,” he continues, grinning.

The dust of Afghanistan highlights the stubble on Richard Armitage’s face. John Porter (Richard Armitage) tells Hugh Collinson (Andrew Lincoln) that he will bury the Basra incident. Source: Richard Armitage Central Main Gallery

Well, I guess it can’t be Standring then. Probably Porter or Lucas. Porter would be better today, I decide. Not least because of all of the dust I’m covered with. And because it’s 96 Fahrenheit degrees in the shade. Porter seems to be nigh unto heat-impervious.

“Come on,” he repeats. He starts to shake his hips and extend his arms.

My head is still down.

“What’s wrong?” he asks, as he crouches down next to me. “Since I appeared on your screen roughly a year ago, you and I have done absolutely everything together. I’ve held a gun to your department chair’s head and forced him to apologize for all of his chauvinist remarks while all the women faculty cheered; I went on a stealth mission to return all your library books after hours so you wouldn’t get fined — without setting off the building alarms; I’ve massaged your shoulders while you were grading; I made to love to you to get you to stop obsessing about your lectures; and that day we showered together, you even–”

“Shh,” I cut him off. “People are going to be reading this.”

“Ah, lass,” he continues, and I realize it’s not Porter but Standring after all. Wow, that sweater must be hot in this weather. Texas is definitely not Yorkshire.

John Standring (Richard Armitage) tells Carol he’ll think about her marriage proposal — the point at which the apparent cynicism of the deal he’s being offered hits him — in Sparkhouse, episode 3. Source: Richard Armitage Central Gallery.

He puts his arms around me. “You’re feeling humiliated,” he said. “I know all about that.”

My mouth flirts with the contours of an involuntary smile. “Yeah,” I say, and borrow my cheek hard into his sweater. It smells, comfortingly, just a little bit of cow.

But then I look up into his eyes, feeling a bit encouraged, and I see that it’s not Standring at all.

Richard Armitage, in a rare photo of himself where he’s wearing a sweater. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

“Who are you?” I ask again.

“Who do you want me to be?” comes the question again.

“I want you to be that perfect fantasy that gets me through those bad moments,” I reply.

“I can still be that.”

“But why are you so elusive today?”

I realize it’s the actual Richard Armitage who’s holding me now in this fantasy. Except it’s not.

“You’re not the real Richard Armitage, are you?”

“No,  of course not. Even with your incredible powers of imagination, you’re not capable of calling forth the real Richard Armitage. You don’t know anything about him. I’m the Richard Armitage you make me as.”

“I want Porter or Standring back, please,” I say, and begin to squirm.

His arms move tighter around me. “Shhh,” he says, “you’re finding your imagination challenged because of the evidence you have now that the real Richard Armitage noticed something that the real you was doing. It’s so much easier to live with a fantasy Armitage than with the thought that Richard Armitage is a real person, isn’t it? And it’s easier to be Servetus and wrestle with Armitagemania than it is to be your actual self, admitting that you’re obsessing about an actor you’ll never met. If all these things you write about are real, they’re not a fantasy. That’s why you can’t fantasize today: reality is in the way. And now you’re subconsciously alarmed that you’ve exploded all the boundaries of your blogging project. It’s so much easier when the writing isn’t real, and it doesn’t have to mean anything, isn’t it?”

I continue to resist his embrace. “Let go of me,” I toss out. “You are making me feel uncomfortable. You seem to think I thought I was playing a game here.”

“Oh, no,” he laughs, and cranes his chin slightly. “You created me, and because of that, I know exactly what you’re doing. This is very serious for you. You were trying to be a fantasy you, writing about a fantasy me. But somewhere along, you let some of your real identity into it, and now you feel threatened when the real Richard Armitage pops his head out. If Richard Armitage is real, and you are real, then all this is real, all the awful things that happened in your real writing are now on the table again. “Where work is play / For mortal stakes,” except that the stakes have suddenly become a lot more obvious.”

“Look, if Porter or Standring won’t come back, then someone else. Lucas. Even Guy.”

“Shhh. The fantasies will all come back. Isn’t it a comfort to know you’ll only ever have me, the fantasy Richard Armitage, in your arms? No worries. Nothing bad will happen, as long as this all remains a fantasy.” I look into his face, and he’s clearly being facetious.

My phone rings and it’s the movers. I struggle up from the wall and think about what stuff they should move first.


[I include this here in the interest of honesty, as it was my Armitage writing for the day. Comments closed, however, because I suspect I’ll be away from my desk all day tomorrow and I’m a bit afraid that this post will generate misunderstandings I won’t have time to mediate tomorrow. Thanks for your understanding.]

~ by Servetus on May 31, 2011.

4 Responses to “T-hopefully fewer than 6 days to end of move and counting”

  1. […] a young person but which you need to let go of as an adult. The song’s been on my mind since I heard it for the first time during a stressful Armitage-related fantasy moment. It seemed to me to fit with Guy — both the theme of the song, the possibility of seeing both […]


  2. […] Where work is play for mortal (or moral?) stakes: Mr. Thornton (Richard Armitage) thrashes Stevens on the factory floor at Marlborough Mills in episode 1 of North & South. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com […]


  3. […] fundraising event. This deserves a longer narrative examination at some point, but for now — I was made hugely uncomfortable by the notional proximity in which I put myself to Richard Armitage …. My anxiety over that led a fellow blogger to formulate for me something we ended up calling the […]


  4. […] meeting, for instance, and get me out of there. He got me through the last days of teaching. He got me through a move. And a few other things I’m too lazy to link just […]


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