that time I met Mrs. Hughes

Jon and I were a little late to the game.

Downton Abbey’s second season (or series, as they call it in the UK) was already airing on BBC America by the time we finally found series 1 on Amazon Prime this past January.  We fell hard for the most endearing characters (Mr. Bates), developed some serious negative feelings towards others (Thomas and O’Brien, we’re looking at you) and got swept up in all the plot twists and turns (Free Bates!). While humming the dramatic main theme as the credits rolled on each episode, we’d exchange a glance that simply implied, “Another!”

We caught up quickly on series 1 and proceeded to purchase and crank through series 2, only to be devastated by the news that they’d only just begun filming series 3. While the other side of the pond begins airing that this month, we Americans have to wait until January 2013.

Fast forward to this week, in which the release of the Series 3 preview on pbs.org coincided with Babymoon 2012 (our vacation to Miami). Needless to say, I’ve been thinking about Downton this week. I spent most of the day poolside in delicious 87-degree weather, relaxing and reading, along with some other hotel guests…including these two next to me:

It’s okay. Took me a minute, too. Here, try this:

I know, right?! Mrs. Hughes from Downton Abbey and Mr. Gibbs from Pirates of the Caribbean, as portrayed by Phyllis Logan and Kevin McNally! Sitting on lounge chairs next to me! Wearing swimsuits! In Coconut Grove, Florida, of all places!

When I finally connected the dots, I quickly posted on Twitter and Facebook (naturally). And then you people all wanted me to say hello to them and I got nervous just thinking about it.

I have this thing with celebrities. I don’t like to call unnecessary attention to them. They’re real people. They lead actual lives–at standards I cannot fathom, often including choices I might not make–but I just can’t bring myself to ask for an autograph or picture no matter how starstruck I am on the inside. (When I met Josh Duhamel in high school, I so overcompensated that I literally acted disinterested/unimpressed while he autographed the notebook I proffered.) This strange mindset likely stems from my embarrassed reactions to the times that others bring up Parent Trap. It depends on the day, but when that happens, my reaction typically falls somewhere on the spectrum of: “Yep, I really was in it; I was 10.” to “Oh my gosh this is so embarrassing. Let’s stop talking about it as quickly as possible.”

So. Right. I projected all of that onto these two people at the pool in Florida. I didn’t want to make a big fuss. I did want Phyllis, especially, to know how much we love Downton Abbey and her character in particular. I figured I’d casually tell her on my way out of the pool area and secretly hoped they’d leave first.

But in the end, it was Phyllis who approached me. While Kevin had stepped away, she noticed my baby bump and asked in her thick Scottish accent when I was due. I told her November. She asked where I was from and why we’d come to Florida. I did not ask her the same in return but cautiously observed, “And you, you’re enjoying a holiday?” She nodded and said they’d come from England. I nodded too knowingly and gave myself away, which led to: “You have to forgive me, but…you’re Phyllis Logan, yes?”

Her jaw dropped, clearly shocked she’d been recognized. She immediately tried to fluff up her pool-soaked hair, but I just laughed with her and told her how much we loved Downton Abbey. We chatted a bit more until Kevin came out, at which point Phyllis looked back and said, “We’ve been spotted!” The three of us continued talking about baby Jack (she asked if that was after Jack Sparrow…no) and children in general, Downton (it took 6 months to film series 3; I didn’t get any plot hints), Kevin’s work in Florida (bit part in Burn Notice), Life Floor, and the marriage conference Jon and I are attending this weekend. I learned they’ve been together 18 years but only got married last year – Kevin has a tattoo on his left shoulder to commemorate it. They seemed like such lovely, kind people. They wished me luck with the baby and I wished them a pleasant rest of their holiday. And that was that.

In case you were wondering, Mrs. Hughes is gorgeous in her swimsuit.

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3 thoughts on “that time I met Mrs. Hughes

  1. Deborah says:

    I’m smiling so happily right now, Maggie! How fun for you! And thank you so much for sharing!!! ❤

  2. seutendeern says:

    A friend send me the link. And I read it and now I am grinning from ear to ear :). What a wonderful experience especially when you tried so hard not to disturb them and then it is the other way round. Thank you so much for sharing and all the best for baby Jack.

  3. Sidney says:

    beautiful couple…what a neat story

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