The day Taylor Swift held my hand for a photo shoot

Its summertime, New York City, 2014 and a starstruck reporter interviews the charismatic singer at a restaurant. Then its time to go

On a Tuesday afternoon three years ago, I entered a Manhattan restaurant where I had been told Taylor Swift would be, waiting to be interviewed. It seemed astonishing that there she was indeed: an outrageously famous person occupying a human-woman amount of space as she talked, texted, ate salad and, finally, introduced me to the art of the selfie.

A selfie with Taylor had been a firm order from my editor. Id never taken a selfie before and Id certainly never asked a celebrity for one. Like Leonardo da Vinci teaching your life drawing class or Michael Jackson helping you moonwalk, it struck me as a grave and absurd sort of privilege that it was Taylor Swift who taught me how. (As everyone under the age of 30 knows, you hold the phone above you at arms length, for the most flattering angle.)

I thought this blurry, if carefully angled picture of our faces was it for photo ops. But as we stood up to leave, it was clear something alarming had happened. A sort of mouth had formed outside, a crowd of hunched figures in black pointing cameras at the door that would eject a superstar. And with her, me.

Taylor I suppose we were now on post-selfie first-name terms must have seen my terror. She asked in a droll and gentle way if I was ready for a photo shoot then took my hand firmly and out we strode. Cameras flashed, voices rose and, like the Red Sea parting, the crowd shifted to allow her into the waiting Suburban. And then I was on my own, walking towards the subway feeling dizzy.

Relatives friends daughters sent Facebook messages breathless with exclamation marks. Photograph: Buzz Foto/Rex/Shutterstock
The next day there were shots of us us! on the internet. In them Im clutching a tote bag from the Marxist publishing house Verso. It reads Philosophy for Militants, the title of a book by the French philosopher
Alain Badiou. (Not sure if Taylors read it.) Left-leaning conspiracy theorists leapt to expound on Red, Swifts monolithic pop album-cum-Communist directive. Elsewhere, teenage girls confidently asserted I was her girlfriend. Of all the possible untruths about me that could metastasise online, being romantically involved with Taylor Swift was, I conceded, one I could let slide. There followed a general assumption that, if not Taylor Swifts actual lover, I was nonetheless friends with her, or had access to her. Relatives friends daughters sent Facebook messages breathless with exclamation marks and almost painful with need. When I got married a month later I lost track of the number of wedding guests who asked whether Tay was attending.

I began to wonder if, in my post-Taylor life, I would now disappoint everyone. That wasnt very Swiftian thinking though, was it? I duly tried to shake it off, shake it off. Sometimes though, Ill sit down on the subway next to a woman listening to 1989, glance at her tiny screen and privately whisper to myself, she doesnt know I held her hand.

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