The Fan and the Celebrity
** "Strangers, sometimes, can make you feel better than those people you have known for so long." **
Suppose Joy is a soloist and not a member of Red Velvet. And suppose Red Velvet doesn't exist in her world at all.
Park Sooyoung known with her stage name as 'Joy' is a famous singer and actress. Her honey-like voice is her distinct identity that everyone knows whenever she sings. Aside from that, she was noted to have this bright and fresh visuals only she possesses, that she impressively uses when acting. Her eyesmile can bring sunshine to everyone's grey sky living with her stage name. She brings happiness and never fails to show her positivity with other people. This is the image built for her. So, it is required for her to smile all the time, never waver from any hardships, and instructed not to show her true emotions. Joy is joy, so Joy with sadness isn't Joy. Joy with crying face isn't Joy. Well, unless she was acting in a drama. Joy is supposed to be joyful all the time because if she fails to do it, the people looking up at her would be down too and it would be her fault.
Fans and non-fans who keep an eye on her always tell what they wanted for her or what they wanted from her. Joy, as a famous celebrity would always oblige. It was her role to make them happy and satisfied.
"...but what about me?" she would always asked to herself and never to others. "Why can't I tell what I wanted? Why do I need to pretend ignorant when I've done something behind the scenes that they didn't like? Why won't they ask me first if it was okay for me or not?"
She's been living her life as Joy and never Park Sooyoung. Joy is the epitome of perfection and that's all. Park Sooyoung on the other hand is her real self, her hidden agenda, her keepsafe of her insecurities, anxieties, problems, brokeness, and other negativities compressed inside her. She should not bring Park Sooyoung with Joy because if that happens, she knows that people will not like it.
The society's standard is quite scary for her. Although almost of the population will tell an interviewer that they hate the standard of their society too, they cannot hide the fact that they've been living with it. It serve as a strict guidance for everybody that needed to follow. It's an invisible criteria to maintain the subjective-objective complex of becoming a human living with them.
One mistake, "I'm sorry mate, you are cancelled."
A correction from your part, "No, the point is you are wrong. Don't bring your righteousness from the past. We're in the present."
Being honest, "Hitting yer acting, aren't ya pal? Apologies? Meh."
Why even them, "Because majority always wins!"
Joy has been doing this for many years since she debuted as a soloist and an actress. Although she can tolerate everything at first, as time went by her earned secrets suddenly backslashing her. It maybe simple and can easily be solved, but the intensity are different for each everyone. And for Joy, it is hard for her to cope up especially when in reality she's alone. Despite the millions of people surrounding her when she's on the highlights, no one else is around when the light is turned off.
She brings joy to other people, but who brings joy to her? Singing and acting was fun for her before... Yes, it was.
Suppose Irene is not a member of Red Velvet nor a celebrity in the first place. And she's just a casual fan of a particular singer named Joy.
Bae Joohyun is an MLS student. Her life is just ordinary. She goes with the flow and she's nonchalant with every problems she's facing. She knows what she wants and this would be the only time she would exert an effort to get it. Her only constraint about herself is that she doesn't care unless it piqued her interest. Although this became her major disadvantage, she could always find a way to finish the day full of struggles. She chose a course of life to be easy and not live with complicated steps. This was her resolved after some event that happened to her in the past.
There was a day before when everything became too toxic for Joohyun. She hates being pressured, that's for sure. She still did her best anyway, but sometimes expectation was meant to be turned down and there's a moment of disappointment and regret. It all happened in one day where it seemed to her that the world was against her. She made a mistake during their exam, she and her best friend fought, she scraped her knee, her purse was lost, a coffee was thrown on her uniform, and every bad luck went to her as if she's collecting them. Even the weather matched her mood instead of cheering her up.
Then upon stopping in front of store, she happened to listen to a celebrity singing being showed on the television of the store. The lyrics plus the beautiful voice enticed her and for a moment she forgot her bad day. The ending pose and smile cheered her up.
"Joy, the name suits her well."
Joohyun didn't become Joy's die hard fan, but she became a loyal listener. The songs and the one singing changed Joohyun's way of life. One could say that Joohyun became a better person because of the music being sung by that particular celebrity. Despite having no close friends to share her concerns in life nor people that she wanted to get the strength from, she experienced all these lackings from Joy. People may find it weird to find this solace from someone who doesn't even know her nor meet in person, but it's just as it is. There are strange things that are happening and sometimes it couldn't be explained by anyone. And just like these strange things, sometimes it comes in pairs.
Suppose she meets this celebrity, what do you think will happen?
Suppose Joohyun found herself wandering outside her apartment in the middle of the night, not minding the danger she may get nor the darkness may bring to her. She just cannot sleep. Their semester finally ends and her body addicted with stress craved for late-night cramming or doing the a-second-before-the-deadline requirements. Instead of fooling herself by rereading her notes, she chose to use the time of crisis to embrace the cold night. She wanted to try to see her neighborhood surroundings without the sun's light. She wanted to confirm if there would be any difference of the view in a time where everybody were probably sleeping inside their homes. After all, she wasn't able to do this, to appreciate the nature's beauty when she's that busy having a date with her books and reviewers.
Suppose she stopped in a park and as she went to the swing, her eyes met a stranger wearing a black mask and a baseball cap. Suppose she got scared by the appearance, but calmed down when that person walked to the nearest swing, sat on its seat, and deliberately moved like a sulking child causing a tiny sound from the chains connecting to the metallic frame of the swing.
Joohyun observed the stranger and came into a conclusion that it was a woman based from her body shape despite the oversized hoody. Having this, she finally decided to do the same. She sat on the nearest swing seat, just beside the stranger and started her stargazing moment. Her peripheral vision, although, caught a glimpse of the woman. The small light coming from a light post near them made her able to notice how the stranger simultaneously wipe her hands on her face not covered with the mask. Then it hit Joohyun's curiosity.
Why would this woman wear a mask and a hat in the middle of the night only to cry here in the park? Can't she just take off her mask? Is she dumb or what? It's obviously dark here and there's only the two of us. As if I would care the way she looks. She's making it hard for herself. She thought as she tried to distract herself again to the glowing full moon accompanied with the shimmering stars. It's beautiful.
It's not even a minute yet when the silent tears of the woman became whimpers, then turned into a sob making Joohyun's ears to get irritated. Joohyun, knowing herself, wanted to approach the woman. It's not purely about herself being soft to other people, but it's about her curiosity too. She admits that the stranger got her attention just because of her strange behavior.
Joohyun doesn't actually initiate a conversation to other people, but surprisingly she had the courage to stood up from the swing seat and walked in front of the stranger. Her eyes also noticed that the stranger doesn't have a handkerchief nor tissue with her. She's just using her hands to wipe her tears. Joohyun felt a pity tapping her soul. She took out the handkerchief from her pocket that she didn't even use yet and offered it to the stranger.
"I'm sorry for being invasive, but I cannot help myself of not doing anything for someone crying only I is witnessing." she said as the woman finally recognized her presence. Her action made the stranger a bit surprise as Joohyun saw her flinched. "Please, take my handkerchief, unnie." She used the honorific assuming that the woman was older than her because of her stature. "Don't worry about anything. It's clean. It doesn't have any sleeping powder if you're thinking that I'm a kidnapper because obviously you look more like a kidnapper to me." Joohyun didn't know where she got her words. It's a bit shocking on her part that she's saying these ridiculous reasonings to a stranger. Maybe the beautiful night just made her drunk or maybe she just wants an interaction to another human. After all, it's been a while since she last talked to someone.
"Thanks..." The stranger softly told her as she accepted the clothe for her tears.
"No worries," Joohyun smiled. "And by the way, please remove your mask when you're crying. It may seem absurd, but it can suffocate you, unnie."
The woman flinched again and didn't reply nor followed Joohyun's advice. Maybe she just really don't want me to see her face. Joohyun thought cursing herself from talking too much.
"I can turn around, so that I won't be able to see your face if you want?" Joohyun said in a tone of interrogation.
"No, it's fine... I'm just..." There was a hesitation, but she continued. "... just that... I can't. You don't have to worry about me..."
But your body language is telling me otherwise. Joohyun sighed. She thought of something else. She's feeling her body being tired from the walk anyway.
"I'll go then first, unnie. You should also go." Joohyun told her as she started to take small steps.
"Your handkerchief..?" Joohyun heard before she could turn her back.
"You can return it to me if we meet again, unnie." Joohyun replied, then walked away.
Soon as she reached her apartment, she immediately fell to her knees and caused a muffled scream.
"Gosh, what's gotten into me?! That was so embarrassing! It's not me at all... Damn it Bae Joohyun..."
Suppose the stranger left on the park was Joy, the famous celebrity. Seeing the petite girl who gave her the handkerchief walked away, her tears suddenly stopped. She removed her cap and then her mask showing her face to no one.
She breathed in fresh air then let the tensions intoxicated her system go away. She felt better atleast. It was first time.
She's been going there every Thursday night and she didn't expect that there would be someone aside from her to go to the park at that particular time. Nevertheless, she wasn't able to delay her frustrations. She cried in the presence of a stranger.
She looked at the handkerchief she was holding. Her fingertips voluntarily caressed the embroidered initials of the stranger who offered it to her.
She wasn't even able to ask her full name, so she could thank her formally. Her lips curved weakly remembering the faint depiction of concern of the petite girl.
How could a stranger be so kind to someone she didn't even know? I wonder what will be her reaction if I revealed my identity. Will there be any difference knowing that I am a celebrity?
The sadness returned to her from the thought. She's educated enough and experienced enough to be aware of the societal issues. People have different approaches to other people based on their status. If you're nobody, people will ignore you. If you're famous, people will praise you. If you're rich, people will be respectful of you. She's not generalizing everyone though, it's just rare to find someone who will treat you the same as others. And sometimes, it's better for two individuals to not know each other at all.
Suppose Bae Joohyun was intrigued by the stranger she met at the park. So, every night at the same time, she will go at the entrance and takes a peek if the unnie was there again. She did this for six days until she reached Thursday.
The stranger was already sitting on the swing alone when Joohyun saw her. Joohyun went to the other swing beside the stranger and silently sat. And again, she observed that the woman was wearing a cap and mask again. Only that time that she wasn't crying or maybe she's finally done crying. Joohyun couldn't tell and she couldn't tell also that the stranger still remembers her.
The weird girl who offered me a handkerchief. Perfect description! Joohyun thought being sarcastic to her own self. But she admits that the stranger has some kind of vibes she's really familiar with. She felt connection to the stranger as if they have known each other for a very long time.
It took a while before Joohyun realized that she was just unconsciously staring at the stranger who was already looking at her direction as well. Her face suddenly turned red from being caught as she diverted her eyes somewhere else. Until such time that the stranger was already infront of her and Joohyun pretended not to notice her.
Damn, she's taller than I thought.
She finally let go of her restrictions when she saw on her peripheral vision the way the stranger offered a handkerchief the same way she did before. Joohyun looked up and with the help of the light post she was able to mesmerize the eyes glimmering like the ocean's surface. She could already tell that the stranger unnie of hers was a very pretty person.
"Thank you for the other night." she spoke in the most delicate voice as it sounded like a lullaby to Joohyun.
Joohyun received back her perfectly folded handkerchief and smiled. "You're welcome, unnie." she said.
"I should get going. You should go home too. It's very late." the stranger told her.
Joohyun got up from her seat. She mentally laughed at herself for being so small in front of the stranger. "Then I should get going too."
"Why does it seem like you went here to see me?" the stranger softly chuckled.
Joohyun smiled shyly as she nodded. The stranger was taken aback from the response. She then let a sigh.
"You shouldn't come here at this time ever again, okay? It's dangerous." she said.
"Then why are you still going here if you know that it's dangerous here, unnie?" Joohyun asked.
The stranger didn't reply and Joohyun didn't ask anymore question. Both of them exited the park silently without saying goodbye with each other.
Suppose it was the end for their encounter, but it wasn't.
Suppose Joy was caught in a controversy of being rude to her leading actor in her recent drama. Everyone was shocked from this issue especially the fans. It was first time. They didn't believe that it until an unanimous account posted a video of Joy slapping the actor. Some fans fought for Joy, some stayed for her, some doubted, some eventually left the fandom disappointed by the act. In the case of non-fans, some justified the possible reasons, some just followed the train of hating, and some made the viral clip as a meme. Regardless of the reactions, it doesn't change the fact that it affected Joy's reputation.
Later then the video was deleted and there was a news telling the public that everything was okay. The issue may have subsided, but some communities still argue about the truth. There was no official statement from Joy's party, but it was reported that Joy voluntarily resigned from being the lead actress of the said drama. Her company also released an update about their artist that she would be on hiatus for a while, which gained several reactions.
"It finally came to me, huh? It's harder than I thought. I'm not even allowed to defend myself." Joy told herself as she put her mask on.
She looked at her wristwatch and decided to go outside. It's not even Thursday yet, but she's going there again. Since her hiatus already started, her schedule might change and she might go to the park every night from now on until her hiatus comes to an end.
She went out from her unsuspicious house then started jogging her way to her sanctuary. Thanks to the strict routine to maintain her body, she could consider herself as healthy.
Soon as she entered the park she unexpectedly saw the petite girl again. Surprised from the appearance, she sighed in defeat allowing herself to just go there.
Her presence may have not triggered the petite girl's attention. However, Joy realized the reason upon hearing the music being played on the petite girl's phone. It was her song, 'Day by Day'.
She didn't know what to feel at that moment until the petite girl sang along. The girl was obviously enjoying it as there's a tilting of her head following the rhythm of the song, then her head turned to her direction.
"Oh my gosh—" She fell from the swing.
Joy had her eyes widened from that as she immediately went to help the girl to get up. There was a painful grunt and Joy sighed from it, feeling sorry.
"I'm sorry, I surprised you." she apologized.
"No, it's fine..." the petite girl told her.
Both of them sat on a bench instead with a space provided between them. There was silence until the petite girl spoke.
"Unnie, please forget what happened. It's embarassing." she said faking a laugh.
"I just cannot forget about it especially if it was that iconic." Joy replied, there's a smile behind her mask. Then she saw the girl scrolling on her phone again. Joy might got curious about the girl, so she asked. "What are you listening a while back?" She acted as if she didn't know the song. She then caught a smile on the girl's face. This was the time she realized that the petite girl was actually very pretty. She can par to any celebrities even with her doe eyes only.
"It's Day by Day sang by Joy. Unnie, you should listen to all her songs. It's good." she said.
Joy felt a ticklish phenomenon inside her from the honest answer of the girl. She had received many compliments, but this one has different impact to her. It was as if she tested a fan's loyalty to her and it turned out that the fan was really loyal to her.
Then she remembered her recent controversy. Does this girl knows what happened to her celebrity?
"Isn't that the singer who was rude to her co-actor?" she asked.
"Sorry to say this unnie, but I wouldn't say that if I were you. We don't know the full story, so we cannot conclude anything."
It amused Joy. "But there was an evidence. Did you see the video uploaded?"
The petite girl nodded. Her facial expression was already serious.
"What's your insight about it?" Joy asked.
"I would believe everything if it was the full scene. It was cut and seemed unfair. It only showed the slapping scene in which brought Joy the disadvantage. It seemed to be set up." her tone sounds annoyed, even her facial expression told Joy that she's really frustrated.
The ticklish feeling turned to warm comfortable feeling. The petite girl made her feel better again. She didn't expect the stranger to be her fan and she didn't expect that she would have a fan like her. It was first time to feel appreciated, for being a singer not just because she was popular. It felt like first time to be supported. She's glad that her fan, even without knowing the truth about the incident, had a rationale like that. This girl has a point. In reality it was set up. Joy only did that because she was being harassed. The actor's party manipulated the situation, which trapped Joy and her company to admit defeat.
"Thank you." Joy spoken out loud. It was already too late to take it back when the petite girl had her eyes with curiosity.
"Thank you for what?"
"For sharing what you think about that singer. Some people would be carried away with the bandwagon effect, but here you are taking a different route. That's admirable. I would like to listen to her songs from now on."
From annoyance, to confusion, to happiness, the girl showed her a crook smile. "You probably should." she replied.
Suppose their meetings continued, but names weren't revealed. They remained strangers as if they have an agreement. Both of them would be sitting next to each other in the same place at the same time. They didn't tell each other the schedules, but both knew when to see each other. They would always talk with one another with two topics only. The petite girl's life and the singer Joy's life. Experiences will be shared, but never each identities. But they were fine, each company felt home to both of them.
For Joohyun, she felt happy talking to the stranger. She felt satisfied. And it kept her boredom away. She didn't care about the stranger unnie's identity. They can still talk without knowing each other's name nor see her face. For the first time, she was able to talk with someone about her life, habits, likes, and dislikes. It was fun since she can always receive the anticipation of the stranger unnie's eyes.
For Joy, she felt comfort from her fan who doesn't know her yet. The long and deep talks from the supposed-to-be-silent-type individual fascinated her. Her hiatus didn't seem hiatus at all. It felt like vacation to a very good place.
She likes how the petite girl would always brag about her favorite celebrity. She likes how she defend her celebrity while respecting the other party. She likes the way the petite girl sang her song with enthusiasm, on how she interpreted the songs with her own reflection. She likes everything about the girl who kept her company during the middle of the night.
"I really love Joy." Joohyun confessed as if it was her first time saying it. She had said it many times already.
"I'm sure she loves you too." Joy would always reply as if it was her first time hearing it too, pretending that she's not affected from the words her fan told her.
Suppose there was a twist to their story. Joy's manager came to her house to warn her something. Joy stared at the photos presented on the table. It was her and the petite girl she always meet in the park.
"Who's the girl, Joy? Do you know the situation you are entering?"
"Unnie, don't I have the rights to befriend outsiders?"
"Joy, you know that you can't even if this is what you wanted. You also know that your hiatus will end next week. You should know better that getting into an issue again is the least you should do since it would affect your career."
"But we don't even know each other..."
She felt a hand on her shoulder. "I believe you, Joy. We've been together since you debuted, but other people aren't the same as I am. They would twist a sentence and would faked a story just like what happened between you and that actor. I'm sure you don't want that innocent little friend of yours to be dragged by other people, so you decide. You better stop your connection with her now."
Suppose it was their last. It was even raining, perfect timing for a sad parting between two strangers who were tied with the invisible string.
Joohyun was left alone in the park. She was sitting on the swing seat while the rain continued to pour unto her soaking her hair, her clothes, everything, even replacing her tears.
Why was she affected? Why was she sad? Why was her heart felt broken? She felt empty all of a sudden now that she wouldn't meet the stranger who turned out to be her favorite celebrity.
She should be happy right? She was talking to Joy all along. She was with Joy all along. She was laughing, smiling, singing with Joy all along.
Joy would be back next week after her hiatus. She would return as Joy who gives joy for everyone, but for her it felt the opposite. She felt like she was robbed. She felt despicable for being selfish that she only wanted Joy for herself.
"I'm sorry. We can't meet each other anymore."
Every words turned into daggers stabbing her.
"What do you mean?"
Then the stranger removed her cap and then her mask. Everything became slow motion as she saw the stranger's face. The familiarity makes sense since it was the same person who made her feel a joyfulness from a long time. The stranger was Joy. It was Joy all along.
Then Joy explained her everything. Joohyun pretended to listen despite her sight becoming murky. She was stunned. Everything was unexpected and she didn't know what to reply.
"You better know this... I love every single moment with you. I love everything about you. You're perfect and everything. God knows how thankful I am to meet someone like you in this kind of place, in this kind of time. You saved me. You helped me. You makes me happy. You gave me the joy I couldn't get from others."
Joohyun felt the same too, but she couldn't open her lips to speak.
"My name is Park Sooyoung. I am known as the singer-actress Joy. What... What's your name?" Joy introduced herself as if it was their first meeting.
"Bae Joohyun, my name is Bae Joohyun..."
Joy then embraced her tightly. Joohyun returned the hug savoring the moment where her soul almost resonating with Joy's. Then Joy separated herself from her.
"You should always remember that I love you, Bae Joohyun. Thank you for everything." Then Joy gave her a soft kiss on her forehead. "Goodbye."
Joohyun realized at that moment that an introduction could be used in disintegrating a relationship. They introduced themselves to end their meetings.
She regretted of not able to say what she wanted to tell to her celebrity. Her memorized speech from a scenario she imagined from the question, "What would you want to tell your celebrity if you were given the chance to talk to her?"
What would she tell to Joy?
It was very clear to her now. Despite the hidden agenda, the different impression formulated, she knew by the fact that it didn't mean anything to her. She came to like Joy because of her voice, songs, her smile. Then she came to love Joy not because of anything, not even the late night talks, the fun experiences, there wasn't even skinships, it's not because of the mask and the hat. She came to love Joy because she's the only person who was able to make her sleeping seed of love grow into something big.
So, what would she tell Joy?
"I love you not as a fan."
Suppose years had passed and Joy was finally freed from the pressure and eyes of the crowd. Supposed she went to the park again on the middle of the night hoping for a miracle to happen in accordance of her silent prayer.
Would she able to see her again?
Bae Joohyun was just her casual fan. She just like to listen to her songs and watch her music videos, dramas and movies. She never bought albums nor participated in every voting related to being a celebrity. So, she never met her during fansigning events nor concerts. Nevertheless, she didn't deny that Bae Joohyun made her feel frenzy and calm at the same time.
There, they met each other's gazes. Joohyun was still the same. Joy on the other hand didn't wear her signature mask and cap anymore. Her smile was exposed and she didn't mind about stalkers anymore.
Let the world knows who am I with.
They faced each other with both eyes communicating with emotions that cannot be relayed verbally. Joy spreaded her arms as Joohyun let her body be embraced by her celebrity.
God knows how Joohyun longed for Joy and how she resisted herself from attacking every fanmeetings Joy had before. She almost wanted to kidnap Joy. She almost wanted to cause commotions for Joy to meet her. But she never did. She just waited patiently until her love finally came back to their sanctuary.
"There's something I wanna tell you, Joy."
"What is it?" Joy asked, her smile not leaving her face.
Joohyun took a deep breath before speaking. "I'm married."
Suppose all those things never happened at all.