Paul Williams takes us on a heartfelt journey through his ongoing online courtship of Lili Bayliss from The X Factor NZ. //
Episode 13 of the second season of X Factor NZ will widely be remembered for one thing: Natalia Kills firing up at Joe Irvine for wearing a suit and combing his hair. While everyone else on the Internet went crazy, I didn’t even notice it to be honest.
My brain was still trying to process what had happened six songs earlier when a girl with snow-white hair had done the impossible. Not only had she made me not hate the song ‘Rude’ by Canadian reggae band Magic!, she had made me love the song ‘Rude’ by Canadian reggae band Magic!. The girl’s name was Lili Bayliss and she was possibly the most prettiest girl I had ever done seen.
I’ve always had a theory that with the right song playing I could love-at-first-sight anyone but I never expected the right song to be ‘Rude’ by Canadian reggae band Magic!. I immediately took to twitter and (under the guise of “asking for a friend”) asked if anyone had her phone number. The tweet made the ‘X Factor Tweets of the Week’, which I thought was weird because usually they pick joke tweets. I followed it up with a tweet asking my followers to vote for her so she could stay in Auckland long enough for us to go on a date.
It’s worth noting that both of these tweets were favorited by Lili. It’s also worth noting that I spelt Lili’s name wrong in the first one, for which I am very sorry #LiliNotLily.
The following night, Lili survived elimination despite being one of the bottom two vote getters. Five days passed and in the wee small hours of Saturday morning I was brushing my teeth and scrolling through twitter when the most magical thing happened. Lili retweeted the tweet about us going on a date. This was a big mistake on her behalf because it filled me with a belief that this dream was one that I could possibly realise.
Two nights later I headed out to the X Factor NZ headquarters to watch the show live (my brother works on the show and we’d planned this visit before I knew Lili existed). I was quite excited to see the show but I was now mainly just looking forward to introducing myself to Lili. We entered through the backstage door and literally within five seconds, Lili appeared out of the mist, straight up looking like an absolute goddess.
She was much taller than I had imagined, but it might’ve just been her shoes. She was talking on the phone. I panicked and hid behind my brother. She greeted him and asked if he would say “hi” to her friend on the other end of the line. I’m not sure what he said, I was too busy trying to avoid being seen.
Later in the night, I was sitting backstage when Lili walked over and stood only meters from where I was sitting. I was about to stand up and talk to her but unfortunately I had a very important text message to send.
The following night I opted to go to a movie with my friend Rose instead of attending the X Factor elimination show. We went to see All That Heaven Allows, a 1950’s romance starring Rock Hudson. I’m a big Rock Hudson fan, but an even bigger Lili Bayliss fan. It was hard to focus on the movie knowing that Lili was facing elimination. I pulled out my phone as soon as the credits began to roll, and was greatly relieved to find out that Lili would live to sing another song.
That night on Twitter, (I’ve already used “the most magical thing happened” and that was true at the time but this was even more magical so I’m going to use it again) the most magical thing happened: LILI SPOKE TO ME (in the form of a tweet).
Since joining Twitter in 2010 I’ve favorited 850 tweets. 849 of those were lies. This is my favorite tweet.
Note that she uses ‘haha’ instead of ‘lol’, just like me. We have so much in common.
By the time the next live show rolled around, I had well and truly developed a bad case of the old X Factor fever. I once again headed out to the live record and this time I was determined to be brave and talk to her.
That night Lili sang ‘Only Girl in the World’ by Rihanna while swinging amongst some trees, looking like an Elven Princess. It was breathtaking and while she didn’t openly state it, I felt like it was probably dedicated to me.
After the show, I was walking back from the backstage bathrooms (the main backstage area is essentially just a large empty warehouse and it was very dark and misty at the time). I saw a silhouette approaching in the fog. As it drew nearer I realised it was X Factor contestant Nyssa. “Hey!” she said with a friendly smile. “Hey! Great job tonight. You were so good.” This was a genuine compliment. She had smoked it that night. Nyssa thanked me and we both continued walking. After a few meters, another figure emerged from the darkness. It was Finlay, she looked sad. “Hey. You were amazing tonight.” Her eyes lit up. “Aw thank you!”.
I turned my gaze back in the direction I was heading and that was when I saw her. Gliding through the mist, heading straight towards me. She was in a small group of people. Stan Walker was one of them, I didn’t even look other two. The confidence I’d had when talking to Nyssa and Finlay had suddenly vanished. I dropped my head, doubled my pace and veered off to the right.
“Paul Williams! I see you trying to sneak by me.”
I’m still not 100% sure what I said back to her. I’m not really sure it was even English. I kind of half said “sorry” and half said “great job” all while laughing.
I’d planted the idea of us going to see the new Cinderella adaptation a couple of times on Twitter and I now decided it was time to boss up and ask the question. She follows me on Twitter so direct messaging her was an option. That seemed weird to me so I decided to keep it out in the open.
Note that I used the word ‘date’ and not ‘day’. This was intentional.
She favorited it but unfortunately did not get back to me with a day/time.
The next week I headed to the show once again. Lili performed a mashup of ‘Tainted Love’ and ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)’. Needless to say, she straight up murdered it. After the show, I was watching The Xtra Factor while leaning against one of the famous Benny Tipene bleachers from season one. I turned around and standing directly behind me was Lili, draped around Nyssa’s shoulders like a preppy jersey. The ensuing scene went something like this:
Paul: “Hey. Great job tonight guys! And great hair.”
(The hair bit was weird but it was in reference to Lili’s new blue hair).
Lili & Nyssa: Aw thank you!
Lili: When are we going to Cinderella?
Paul: I don’t know! I told you to choose a time and you just favorited it!
Lili: I’m playing hard to get Paul! Didn’t you get that?
Paul: Yeah well it’s too hard! You need to lower the difficulty.
Nyssa: What’s this about?
Paul: We’re gonna go see Cinderella. You can come to if you like!
Lili: No she can’t!
Paul: Okay sorry. We can go a separate time.
Lili: What? I didn’t realise you were such a player Paul.
Paul: No! I’m not!
And that was it. They’d kind of been pulled away in a stream of people. As I was leaving that night, I passed Mae Valley. “Bye!” they said, almost in unison. “See ya! You guys were so great tonight!”. You’re probably noticing by now that I say that quite a lot. I meant it though. “Thanks! Text Mae Valley to 3999.” one of them said.
“Sorry. But Lili has my vote… and my heart.”
The next day I decided I was sick of seeing Lili in the bottom two so I took action and started an online campaign to get her some votes. By “online campaign” I just mean “write a Facebook status”. The status gained 57 likes so, along with my 20 votes, I think I really made a difference. That night she breezed through the elimination round.
Over the next few days I spoke to several friends about what the next step should be to making this Cinderella date happen. Nearly everyone told me the same thing: “You gotta slide into the DMs.” I still thought that would be weird – it didn’t really feel like a very Paul Williams thing to do.
On Wednesday night, I was rushing to meet a friend for dinner and my laptop sat open on my bed. I opened Twitter, typed out a message and before my voice of reason even had a chance to talk me out of it, I hit enter.
I slammed my laptop shut and ran out the door. I went to Burger Burger with my friend Maddy and I tried to be good company but it was very hard to focus. When I got home later that night I walked back into my room and opened my laptop. The direct message logo told me I had mail. I hovered the mouse over the icon but I couldn’t open it. I was too scared.
I decided to go for a run, one of my patented 10kms at 10pm. I got home having just run a personal best time. I had a lengthy shower and walked back into my room. The laptop was still open. Calling me towards it. “I could just never read it,” I thought to myself. “No Paul. You’re 22 years old. You can do this.” I sat down and clicked on the small envelope icon.
And that’s where the story ends. Mainly because I’ve run out of time and need to submit this ASAP but also because that pretty much brings us up to now. Will we go see Home instead? I don’t know. I’d like to make it clear that I was asked to write this story on Friday the 10th of April, after all of it had taken place. I was never a journalist following a story, but simply a boy following his heart.
Paul has assured us that his own original song for Lili is coming very soon.