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May 2010. My girlfriend’s 30th birthday is coming up on a Saturday. We make plans to spend the whole day together, and everything is set…
And then, our shooting schedule changes, and I get word that I’ll be working that Saturday. The location I’ve helped prep for a month is up, it’ll easily be a 16 hour shift, and we have no choice but to cancel our birthday plans. My girlfriend is, as you’d expect, pretty disappointed.
Saturday arrives, and morning filming goes fine. As we get closer to lunch, I sneak away to a room I’d found with an internet connection to do some work on my laptop. I thought no one else knew about it…
And then, all of a sudden, Neil Patrick Harris, one of the actors in the film, walks in. He’s with another guy about his age. A PA sets up chairs for them, and it quickly became apparent that production is claiming this room for him to hang out in between takes.
I’m all set to get the boot, but the room is pretty big, and no one seems to notice me, so I stay put. Neil and the other man are just chatting. Then Neil gets called back to set, and I’m alone with his friend.
And suddenly, I get a crazy idea. Both my girlfriend and I are big Neil Patrick Harris fans (who isn’t?)…Can the power of NPH save what will otherwise be a miserable birthday??
So I go up to Neil’s friend, and, in what must have sounded like one enormous, breathless, run on sentence, said something along the lines of:
For a second, Neil’s friend looks confused as he mentally translates my stammerings into coherent speech – but then his face brightens. “Oh, sure! No problem, let’s ask him when he gets back in. I’m sure he’ll do it.”
Holy crap! I mumble a thank you and quickly check my iPhone battery. 10% warning?!? Damn you, Steve Jobs! I plug it in, praying I get enough of a charge for a voice recording.
About ten minutes later, Neil returns from set. I wait a few moments for him to get settled, then go back over.
“Oh, hey Neil, this is Nick!” Neil’s friend says as he sees me approach. “Nick had something he wanted to ask.”
Neil looks at me. Deep breath. Take it easy. Don’t be all star struck.
Oh…fuck. Did I just say it’s MY birthday?
“Wait – I thought you said it was your girlfriend’s birthday,” says Neil’s friend, confused.
Oh Jesus. Now I look like some weird deranged stalker. Yes, Neil, it’s my birthday! Record me a message while I watch!
Luckily, I manage to slow it down and get the explanation out without sounding completely nuts. “Sorry, yes, it’s my girlfriend Emily’s birthday. She just turned 30, but I got stuck working on set, so we had to cancel our big plans. And we love your work, and it’d mean the world to her if you recorded a little happy birthday message for her.”
“Oh, sure, no problem!” Neil says, and with that, he left this message.
Needless to say, it absolutely made my girlfriend’s birthday (and saved my ass!).
This all happened last May, but I was reminded of it a few weeks ago when Neil announced his engagement to long time boyfriend David Burtka – and I recognized David from pictures as the guy who introduced me to Neil that day. As it turns out, Neil and David have actually been engaged for some time, but were waiting for gay marriage to be legalized in New York before making the announcement.
And as of yesterday, that dream became a reality as hundreds of same sex couples tied the knot across the state – 659 in New York City alone! Watching the first couple be married – two women, aged 77 and 85, who have been together for 23 years – moved me to tears. I’ve never been more proud of New York.
My girlfriend and I just wanted to thank Neil and David for making what would have been a miserable 30th birthday one we’ll never forget, and to wish them the best when they step up to the altar someday soon.
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