A fanniversary… sounds a bit rude, if you happen to hail from the Atlantic Isles. Here in the land of the “fanny pack” it doesn’t have the same humorous effect. But how did “fanny” come to refer to lady bits? Is there something Jane Austen wasn’t telling us about prim Fanny Price?
At any rate, I am celebrating because it was three years ago that I watched the A&E/BBC miniseries of Ivanhoe (1997). I documented the ensuing symptoms in My Philosophy of Fandom, one of the most popular posts on this blog. My condition, I learned, is not a solitary one, but shared by people all over the globe. It has been dubbed “Ciaránitis” by certain esteemed experts on the topic. The onset involves hormonal disruption, excess libido, and manic episodes. These symptoms eventually resolve themselves into eyestrain, meteoroporia (compulsive air travel) and chronic drooling.
Ciaránitis has its benefits too, which is why I celebrate. Instead of a malaise, one might well call it a “bonaise.” Those who contract it experience random bursts of ecstatic bliss, make new friends all over the world, and learn everything they ever wanted to know, but were afraid to ask, about William Butler Yeats. And their Long-Suffering spouses? Well, you’ve heard of all those radical reforms Pope Francis is carrying out, right? One of them is instant canonization for partners of Ciarán Hinds fans.
Fandom is a bit like influenza, in that there are many different strains of the virus. If you’re trying to perform a self-diagnosis (that favorite online pursuit), the first thing to do is determine whether you display the Fanniversal Symptoms Pertaining to Actors. From there you can narrow the field in order to isolate the Source. Have you noticed any of the following lately?
You check a certain website for new posts BEFORE your morning coffee.
Your symptom-related travel involves plane tickets, using up vacation time, and/or changing currency.
Certain objects of everyday life have acquired talismanic properties.
You watch movies with serial killers/car chases/dragons/explosions/battle scenes/ [your least favorite content here], which previously would have been deal-breakers.
The pictures folder on your computer is alarmingly massive. (In advanced cases, you may be using auxiliary storage.)
You have a cardboard cutout/signed photo/action figure/poster/[insert item of your choice here] on display in your office at work.
When you meet a person in similar circumstances for dinner, your respective partners give each other the “glance of commiseration”™ and the “bemused shrug.”™
You have recently taken up fiction/ painting/ drawing/ photography/ poetry/ [insert creative activity here] or your creative activity has strangely intensified.
You always thought buying DVD’s was a waste of money. Until now.
You now recognize multiple actors, directors, writers and cinematographers whom you had never heard of before the symptoms started.
If you said yes to at least three of these, you’re probably infected. You’ll need to prepare yourself for the psychological impact, which typically manifests itself in four stages.
Stage 1: Onset. You will experience a rollercoaster of turbulent emotions without realizing the cause. You will assume it’s a passing phase, like having a cold. If you are a middle-aged female, you will attribute it to the “mental pause.”
Stage 2: Denial. “This can’t be happening to me” is a common reaction. It’s usually followed by feelings of deep humiliation and attempts to hide the telltale signs. Loved ones will notice and comment upon curious changes in your viewing habits (“You want to see Ghost Rider Spirit of Vengeance? WTF?!!”) and buying habits (“Ten Amazon purchases in one month? WTF??!!”)
Stage 3: Acceptance. This is the most difficult stage for partners and friends, who suddenly find themselves bombarded with nonstop discussion of the Infection and its numerous Vectors. Caregiver respites are highly recommended.
Stage 4: Integration. At this stage, you will achieve better management of the symptoms with the help of support groups online. You’ll decide that life is too short to feel ashamed of something that makes you happy. You might even start a blog.
“But Linnet,” I can hear you saying. “How can I tell whether I have Ciaránitis or one of those many other strains of the bug?” Here’s how, in five easy questions.
1. Which of the following quotes is NOT by Ciarán Hinds?
A. You never really know why they choose you but, again, there must be some sort of connection.
B. Talent is an accident of genes, and a responsibility.
C. For all the acting you can do, the actual soul of someone does somehow permeate through their work.
D. There’s work to do along the journey.
2. Ciarán Hinds’ first paid acting role was:
A. Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet
B. A limo driver in an obscure BBC TV series
C. Half of a pantomime horse named Albert
D. The voice of Elrond in the 1978 animated version of Lord of the Rings
3. Which is closest to the proper pronunciation of his first name?
4. Which A-list actress has he NOT worked with?
A. Helen Mirren
B. Sigourney Weaver
C. Angelina Jolie
D. Nicole Kidman
5. His first role in a big-budget movie (1981) was:
B. Clash of the Titans
C. Time Bandits
D. Chariots of Fire
1. B is by Alan Rickman.
2. C. He claims he was the front half.
3. C. People who know Irish often think it’s D, but he pronounces it like C.
4. Trick question; he’s played opposite all of them. If this question annoyed you, you’re definitely a fan!
If you got all the questions correct, you either have an acute case of Ciaránitis or (heaven help you) live with someone who does.
In February, the celebration continues. Come with me to Ciarán Hinds Fanniversity!