Oliver is…

He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man

…a celebrity

People who know of my online presence will know all about my IMDB profile, my fan pages and sites with my nudie pics (no link), but being on a cruise made me feel more like a celebrity than ever before.

It’s not that I was necessarily more talented than everyone else on board (but I was), or that I was better looking (goes without saying) or even that I was more popular (clearly) but simply standing out against a sea of grey and wrinkles elevated me to new social heights.

No matter what I did, someone commented on it later on. Joined in a group basketball game? “Have you scored many baskets since then?” (No, I haven’t played in the last fortnight.) Got up during the audience participation part of a show? “Don’t give up the day job — I saw you dancing.” Wore a dance for one night? “Loved the outfit!”

I noticed as well that the people who interacted with me on an everyday level, perhaps someone I had dinner with once or someone I did a quiz with, were more likely to remember me, or at least recognise me, than I was them. This may perhaps be a sign that my memory is fading more quickly than theirs, which is perhaps something I should worry about.

Because of this I needed to be on best behaviour at all times. It reminded me of a story Derren Brown once wrote when he was running late to meet a friend. He burst into a cafe to find him and rushed over to his table apologising profusely for the delay. Not until later did he realise that someone had been holding the cafe door open for him, someone who’s probably now telling a story about how rude that bloke off the telly is for not saying ‘thank you’.

Of course, being so easily recognisable had its downsides too; namely that it meant Holland America staff would know when it was safe to enter my room and take my things.

While people were probably talking about how stupid/rude/ignorant us youngsters were at all times, there was one man on board who was even more talked about. Someone referred to as The Baron, for he claimed (and he had a business card to push the point) that he was a Baron in Scotland. His address has a suspiciously Paisley-esque postcode, but I hope to dig into his story a bit more once I have internet access.

His stories varied in levels of integrity (my favourite was about how he helped a king of an African nation and instead of being paid in cash he was given a piece of barren land with around 40,000 inhabitants, one of whom, a 12-year-old girl, he accidentally married (in a scene that started out very much like the Mrs Reynolds episode of Firefly, but ended with a divorce settlement of a few sheep and goats rather than cosmic espionage and sabotage). Sadly, the name and the location of this country don’t seem to match with any atlas in the library.

No matter who he met, he had a knack for upsetting them or making them feel uncomfortable. Of everyone on board, he seemed to be the most talked about but, in a Kim Kardashian sort of way, everything was very negative. I’m sure plenty of people would have complained about me at some point as well, if only because complaining seemed to be the number one hobby of many people on the ship.

Being back on dry land it’s great to lead a life of normalcy again and although I’ve been invited to appear on a reality TV show in the States, I’m not too keen to make my stardom rise too high.

Of course, all this happened before my online stock began to rise again. You may remember my heartwarming quokka story from Christmas 2010. Alongside that story was a video that I upload on YouTube a while later.

As of the beginning of June this year, around 10 months later, my video had a whopping 24 views. One day I saw that I had a few comments on it and noticed the view count — up to more than 1500! This number started to grow and grow. I was soon in five figures and around 10 days after the craziness started I was past 100,000.

I didn’t know why or how, but I learned later that some tiny blog somewhere picked up the video. That then got picked up by more and more and eventually thousands of people were coming to watch it every day. The catalyst seemed to be the Huffington Post (which annoyingly credited the site they found it on rather than my actual channel).

I got a message from a Norwegian journalist who wanted to use my video (but I didn’t get any hits or any reply when I said he could, so presume he got bored of the idea after less than 24 hours) and one from some shady sounding company offering to control my video and give me 70% of ad rights. Which tipped me off that I should be trying to monetise it, but YouTube was so slow to accept this request (while instantly accepting it on my channel’s only other video, which no one was watching) that I don’t think I made anything at all, despite having more than 100,000 views in one week. Then there were the copycats who tried to steal my video, who YouTube quickly reprimanded on my behalf.

I’m looking forward to the reaction of the 20 or so subscribers when they’ve completely forgotten about me and they see my next rubbish video.

Back in the real world, I’ve been getting a lot more comments from strangers. Whereas some people might grow accustomed to things like ‘Hey, love the new song’ or ‘There’s the [programme name] guy!’ I’m noticing a lot more people talking about my beard. Whether it’s because Americans love facial hair more than Australians or if it’s just because my beard has crossed a certain line I’m not sure, all I know is that I love the attention.

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2 Responses

  1. Dave says:

    As the only non-Filipino currently living in a rural (can I say ‘backwards?’ I’ve done it now) village in the Philippines, I’m familiar with the feeling of being a bit recognisable, though the comments never extend beyond the irritating “hey, Joe.” Not familiar with the expression? There’s a lengthy, self-righteous blog post coming up somewhere in the pipeline.

    But as much as it’s annoying to be singled out for being American, it’s at least better than when builders back in the UK would shout ‘Harry Potter’ and everyone else would think it. They don’t even make it past the skin tone / long nose to notice the glasses here, there’s a whole extra superficial layer outside that!

    I’d say they wouldn’t even notice your beard, but that would be impossible.

    • Oliver says:

      There’s nothing worse than people thinking you’re American. I felt guilty just being here while reading a few of your recent posts. I’m only about half an hour from the border at the moment, so I might run into Mexico if it all gets too much.

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