Back when I started writing my blog 11 years ago, I was trying to understand this whole universe of people who publicly wrote about their daily lives. I googled “mom lifestyle bloggers” and before I knew it, I was opening up my laptop each morning to read about the lives of complete strangers.

Two of the women I started following seemed to be quite popular in the world of mom bloggers. One called herself “Big Mama” (Melanie) and the other one went by “Boo Mama” (Sophie). They were both sarcastic, funny, Christian writers. They both had a child about the same age as my oldest.

About a year later, they would occasionally advertise their “podcast.” I use this term loosely, because it seemed that they would record an hour-long phone conversation that was unedited, rambling and had poor audio quality. As far as I could tell, they didn’t have a plan or purpose for the podcast, but for some reason, I was sucked in. They were the mom friends I wished I had in real life. They were funny, easy-going and kept me entertained while I folded laundry or chauffered my kids around town for hours on end.

They gave me advice on skin care products, parenting, what TV shows to watch and fashion.

More than a decade later, I have read so many blog posts and listened to so many podcasts by these women, that I feel like I really know them. I think of them as friends, minus the one small detail that they have no idea who I am.

About a year ago, they interviewed another one of their podcasting friends, Jamie Golden. She co-hosts a podcast with a guy — Knox McCoy — called The Popcast. These two have the most comprehensive knowledge of pop culture I have ever encountered. They literally watch every movie and every TV show and read dozens of books. They can discuss actors, soundtracks and TV show plots to an excruciating level of detail.

About 75 percent of the time, I don’t even know what they are talking about, but I still find them hilarious and a refreshing break from the stress of my everyday life.

So, early in 2018, Knox and Jamie mentioned they have a “live show.” Apparently, they take their podcast on the road and put on a real life show. Each time they would recap their most recent live show, I would think, “Man, I wish I could go to that.”

Since they live in Alabama, most of their shows were in the south, and it seemed a little crazy to travel across the country just to see two of my favorite podcasters.

That’s why I couldn’t believe it last summer when Knox and Jamie announced they were doing a live show in Chicago. To make it even more amazing, appealing and pretty much the top item on my bucket list, they would have two special guests at the show with them: Big Mama and Boo Mama — aka, Melanie Shankle and Sophie Hudson. My four favorite podcasters — my four closest imaginary friends — all in one place!

I immediately went online and purchased two tickets. Then, I broke the news to my husband that we had plans to go to The Popcast Live in the city in September.

“The what?” he asked.

He had not listened to either of these podcasts. And even when I tried to make him, he couldn’t really make sense of what was happening.

“So, these two women just talk about their favorite make-up and what TV shows they’re watching?” he summarized.

Still, he embraced his mission with all of the enthusiasm he could muster. When we showed up at the theater for the show, he was one of about 50 men in an audience of 500.

Despite all of his wonderful, perfect qualities, my husband is probably the least knowledgeable person in America when it comes to pop culture. He had no idea what was happening most of the time as the four bantered about celebrities, movies and TV shows. But he could at least recognize that these people must be doing something right to get this many people together in one room to see this show.

Before the show started, I noticed that a long line was forming toward the front of the theater. Melanie and Sophie were at the front of the line, greeting guests and taking selfies. I kept trying to convince myself to go get in the line. What would I say when I reached the front?

“Oh, hi… You don’t know me, but I’m your best friend. I’ve been listening to your show for 10 years, so I know everything about you, even though you don’t know the first thing about me.”

In the end, I decided to stay in my seat. I needed to accept the reality that I wasn’t quite as special to Melanie and Sophie and to Knox and Jamie as they are to me. It was harsh to realize that I was merely another fan in a long line of people who think of them as the best friends they’ve never met.

Sigh.

I still don’t understand why they didn’t invite me to dinner when they were in town. Or how they didn’t stay with me instead of booking a room at a hotel. Still, seeing my favorite imaginary friends was one of the highlights of my 2018.

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