On Saturday, October 23rd, a little after 11 a.m. EST, I got to experience something I never thought would happen in my wildest dreams. I had a four-minute, one-on-one video chat with Mr. David Duchovny (240 seconds). I somehow managed to stumble through and remain relatively composed. The synapses in my brain only faltered once, when he asked me what my job was. In the video, I’m smiling and I reply, “I’m a speech um uh (misfire, misfire, shit, a speech what?) therapist!” To be fair, my brain was trying to decide between speech-language pathologist or speech-language therapist, but in the end, ‘speech therapist’ is what popped out. But I’m getting ahead of myself! How did we get here? Let’s go back in time a few months.
"There was a little typed memo that was requesting my assistance on a case with Special Agent Fox Mulder."
Ben, my most amazing husband, spontaneously took me out on a date randomly on a Wednesday. I was happy to be able to sit outside and eat and enjoy the beautiful Georgia afternoon. Three days prior, we had found out that a very good friend from high school, someone who was only a year younger than me, had passed away. I was so happy to be able to sit for a few hours, get out of my head, and have a drink and some wings. As we were finishing up, Ben told me that my Christmas present was in the car (a surprise that I had no idea was coming). He explained that he had to give it to me early because the present itself was something that would happen before December. OK, cool! We get to the car and there is a little Christmas box on the seat. I open it up and there is a picture of Mitch Pileggi (who played Walter Skinner in the X-Files). There was a little typed memo that was requesting my assistance on a case with Special Agent Fox Mulder. Then, underneath, a picture of David Duchovny as Fox Mulder with a time and date. I looked at him like…OK…so, what does this mean? Ben then explained that there was going to be an online event towards the end of October and, as part of the event, my Christmas present was an individual four-minute video chat with David Duchovny. At first, I thought he was joking, because I’ve never heard of something like this and I don’t know anyone else that has been able to chat live with a celebrity. Once I realized he was being serious, I didn’t know what to do with the emotions in my body. I screamed and smacked him on the shoulder with the box. Apparently, I also got out of the car and paced around; however, I have no memory of this. Poor Ben.
If I didn’t think about it, I wouldn’t freak out. So, whenever people would ask or bring it up, I’d quickly blurt “I don’t wanna talk about it!”
Then, there was the waiting. My present was given to me towards the end of August, so we’re talking seven weeks or so. Part of me was glad that I had time to think about what I should say or ask, because the last thing I wanted was to log on and just stare at the computer screen. My family didn’t help either! My sister suggested that I dressed up like Dana Scully, which I admit had already crossed my mind; however, I didn’t want Mr. Duchovny’s initial reaction to be an eye roll. There’s no telling what he’s seen or been asked by crazy fans (which believe me, I’m a crazy fan), so I decided early on to be as least cringey as possible. The other part of me, Ben started to refer to me as Gene Gray. If I didn’t think about it, I wouldn’t freak out. So, whenever people would ask or bring it up, I’d quickly blurt “I don’t wanna talk about it!”, essentially creating a block or a boxed-off part of my mind. At the end of the day, I was in limbo between looking up facts about Mr. Duchovny that weren’t X-files related during my free time to not even thinking about the approaching event.
Finally, the week leading up to that Saturday, I had decided a few things. First – I wasn’t going to ask him about anything X-files. Second – I wasn’t going to dress up like Scully or the Fluke Man or any number of MOTWs (monsters of the week). Third – I had to force myself to think of at least two, maybe three, good questions. Questions that hadn’t been asked a thousand times or in a thousand different ways. I knew he had written an episode in season 6 (The Unnatural- episode number 19), and in doing my research discovered that he had an M.A. in English lit from Yale. I played with the idea of asking about some of his writing ideas or inspirations related to that particular episode, but then inspiration hit! A lot of David Duchovny the person bled into Fox Mulder the character. Fox Mulder quotes poetry sometimes during the show and makes literary references, he talks about baseball, he’s a Knick’s/Yankees fan, all things that I personally think Mr. Duchovny influenced, although this is pure speculation. The episode ‘The Unnatural’ combines baseball and writing; therefore, my questions would be literature and baseball-based. At the end of the day, I decided to ask who he wanted to see in the World Series (remember this was in October) and what was his favorite book/most recently read book.
"...all there was to do was wait..."
Prepared with my question, I finally felt ready – or as ready as I could be. On the day of the event, I wore an outfit that would be suitable for any other workday, resisting the temptation to dress up. I drove to my room at school so that I had good, dependable Wi-Fi. I still have my green screen (felt) tacked up on the wall, and I tried to put a virtual background up, but the platform that they were using wasn’t Zoom. I could use OBS (which is a program I became familiar with doing teletherapy last year), it would take a little tweaking, but once I clicked on the link, I was in a virtual line. I tested my camera and in order to use OBS I’d have to back out of the link, start the digital camera in the background, and then re-join the link. If I did this, I’d lose my place in line. I didn’t want to risk it, so I decided I would just use my regular digital camera and not worry about any green screen or virtual background. With everything set up and ready, all there was to do was wait. This waiting was almost worse than the weeks leading up. I could see that I was in a cue, and that I was number 18 in line. There was a countdown clock that would update every two to four minutes alerting me of how much time remained. I’m glad they had some Watch Mojo lists of X-files moments and episodes playing, because it would distract me momentarily. Finally, the alert that I was next in line popped up. A moderator checked to make sure my camera and sound were all good, and it was time!
If I could have the sound of David Duchovny on a loop or as a text alert saying “Hey Katie!” when his screen popped up, I’d listen to it every day and smile. After the first few seconds, a fear that I hadn’t really thought about before was mollified. He was nice! And he wasn’t fake. I think a small part of me feared that he would be condescending or blasé, which I wouldn’t blame him for. To my utter delight, he was very genuine. He asked me about the green screen and I explained that I was a Speech Therapist (my brain tried to say Speech-Language Pathologist but after I said ‘speech’ and forgot the other words, the first one I could pull out was ‘therapist). I explained that we had been doing virtual therapy for the majority of the last year and I used the green screen during those sessions. Of course, he asked me about an ancient Greek individual that put rocks in his mouth to help with his speech and I had no idea who the hell he was talking about. Thank the Lord that I’ve seen "The King’s Speech", because they mention that as a therapy method in the movie, so I was able to transition to familiar territory. He mentioned that he’d like to ask me more about what I do as a speech pathologist (swoon!), but asked if I had questions for him.
I thanked him for what he had given to the character of Fox Mulder (to be fair, this wasn’t a question!). He said he was lucky enough to get to work with Chris Carter (the show’s creator) to make Mulder kind of his own. When I asked who he wanted to see play in the World Series I also let him know that I was in Georgia so I’d be rooting for the Braves. He got a coy smile and said he hated to disappoint me but he’d be cheering for the Dodgers. Baseball isn’t my favorite sport, but it’s Ben’s favorite, so I know enough from listening and watching games with him to know that the Yankees/Mets hate the Braves and vice versa. Ben likened it to the Georgia/Florida football rivalry so that I’d have a reference. That being said, I wasn’t surprised at all that Mr. Duchovny wasn’t rooting for the Braves. He also mentioned that he’d loved to attend a World Series game if the Dodgers were in it because he’s currently living in L.A.
Alas, the end of my time was nearing and we both noticed the countdown clock was winding down to the last few seconds. I asked him, as he has a literary degree, if he has any favorite books or books he recommended. He quickly told me that a book he always recommends is “American Pastoral” by Philip Roth and his most recent read was “Dept. of Speculation”. I thanked him very much and our time was up. I unplugged my webcam, closed my laptop, packed it away, and walked to my car where I proceed to cry for five minutes. He was such a joy and such a genuine person. He was thoughtful with his responses and his answers were authentic. He’s still very handsome at 61 (not that that is old and not that looks are everything).
“David Duchovny, Why Do You Love Me?”
Bree Sharp, the individual who sings the song “David Duchovny Why Won’t You Love Me” released in 1999, got a few things right. Some lyrics to the song describe him as “smooth”, “smart”, and “eyes that you can’t leave”. However, in my humble opinion, it would be very easy to change the title to “David Duchovny Why Do You Love Me?” Not in a romantic sense, but in the love that we should all share for fellow people. I cannot brazenly declare that I wooed Mr. Duchovny, and I recognize that four minutes is an incredibly short period of time; however, it was enough for me to hypothesize that Mr. Duchovny would not only love me but that he would probably love most people. And for that, I am grateful beyond words. Best. Present. Ever.