San Francisco, Run for the Hills (Part 2)
A Paul McCartney impersonator, trying to make it work, and praying to dead dogs.
A Paul McCartney impersonator?! Now we’re talking!
A singing telegram was the exact over-the-top geekery that I’d imagined. Clearly, they hired this guy to win me over and frankly, it was working.
Plus, this Paul McCartney impersonator wasn’t even a cheap one. He was dressed in all black and had the quintessential pin-straight bob. The mop-top tapered down into two oversized sideburns. It was picture perfect.
Note: Paul’s hair colour was the exact mousy, grayish brown sported by many a Brit. It’s a shade we’ll call “Cockney Ash”
From my chair, I felt like yelling out, “Someone get that man a guitar!”, but quickly remembered that I had no friends.
Instead, I smiled encouragingly waiting for his next move.
Would he open with a Hey Jude? Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da? A solemn, Eleanor Rigby?
I looked around to gauge everyone’s reaction. Nobody seemed to notice Paul shuffling across the room.
What kind of a Beatle-less twilight zone was I inhabiting?
Paul was walking directly towards me when it clicked: I was about to be hazed! And chances are, they're going to encourage me to sing along or worse: watch with over-acted enthusiasm to onlookers.
Regardless, I was ready. I cleared my throat and took a swig from my water bottle. Typically, I prefer to run scales in the bathroom before sharing any vocal stylings with strangers, but there wasn’t any time.
As Paul closed in, I offered a playful, “I know you!” and finger gunned towards him.
He quipped back, “Nice to meet you, Grace” in a perfect British accent.
Fuck, a good accent to boot?! They really splashed out here.
“I’m Jude,” he said.
“Jude, of course”, I replied with a playful eye.
Jude was the perfect name for a Beatles-themed telegram. It was adjacent but elevated.
Then, he took a seat at the desk across from me, plunging into the boss' chair.
“Balllllllsssy!”, I said with a devilish attitude. “You might get in trouble!”.
He looked back at me with a quiet confusion.
Suddenly, like a clap of thunder, it dawned on me.
Jude wasn’t a Beatles impersonator at all. Oh no. This Jude was the boss! The same boss that signed off on emails and flew me out.
How could I have been so ignorant? The mousy bob, the dramatic burns, the all-black suit…this is just what British people look like!
Jude was just a regular British person!
I tried to shake off my visible surprise.
Had I royally fucked this up already? I took a deep breath to regain composure.
Feeling out of control, my eyes darted around the room until they caught on something recognizable. In this sea of unknown, I spotted a token of familiarity beside Paul-Jude.
Resting on the corner of the boss’ desk was a CHI hair straightener.
In fact, it was the exact one that I’d used that morning to create my “woman about office” coiff.
The only difference: I left my styling wand at home.
Note: The hair straightener wasn’t haphazardly placed on the boss’ desk. It sat front at center atop a silicon pad, ready to be fired up at a moment's notice. Situated beside the keyboard, the straightener appeared to be an item of necessity. It was an instrument required to get Paul-Jude through a hard day’s work (or shall we say, Hard Day’s Night).
Like a watchtower gargoyle, the straightener was affixed to the desk. It was a statement—an ornamental declaration to celebrate its keeper.
The straightener was a bold item that not even Elle Woods would dare to showcase. A straightener in a place of commerce out-performed any feather pen or novelty pencil. In terms of “Valley girl office supply”, a straightener debatably ranked higher than an under-the-desk foot spa (in the almighty space heater position).
The straightener also erased any possibility that the boss’ Beatles hairstyle was accidental. It was hard to imagine that a flat-ironed bowl was a choice, but here we were. Moreover, a shag wasn’t just a choice made once—it’s something to be upheld with countless hot iron strokes per day.
On one hand, the straightener made me like him more.
In a sea of greasy geeks, it was clear that we were the only ones who knew our way around professional-grade styling equipment.
We were bonded by 400°F and heat protective sprays.
On the other hand—the king pin nerd—the leader of a company I was considering moving 4000 miles away for, had a fucking hair straightener plugged into his desk!
As the day went on and it was clear there’d be no acaplellas, I struggled to feign interest. I couldn’t get behind the people or the work itself.
Unlike the hair straightener, there were no elements of familiarity or intrigue.
I wasn’t sure how I could last the week.
To spice things up, I fantasized about leaning across the desk to ask, “What was it like when John passed?”. I resisted.
Despite it all, I wasn’t ready to throw away my opportunity. I didn’t want to give up on telling friends and foe that I was moving to San Francisco. I wanted to announce that I’d been invited to sleep-away camp by our cool, older neighbour.
I’d even rehearsed being a San Franciscan with the resident-mandatory PR campaign.
For example, when asked “Is it true there’s human shit on the sidewalks?”, I would respond with: “No, way! The shared use paths are just smeared with Ghiradelli chocolates! Did you know they’re from SF? Have you tried Ghiradelli? The sea salt caramel is simply to die for...or shit your pants over! hahahahahah.”
The next day was even worse. Any newness or anticipation had worn off, and each hour in the office felt like three. The catered lunch—which was all that kept me going—also made me feel trapped.
At the end of my second day, the boss, Paul-Jude pulled me into a conference room. He wanted to check-in.
He sat me down and said things like, “You’re a great fit”, “Could you move here by the end of the month”, and “What’s it going to take?”.
I was alarmed by his poor read on my interest and suitability. Did he see something that I didn’t?
I returned to my desk where I sat beside a 20-something named Shirley—a caucasian Shirley under the age of 55.
Nothing was sitting right.
I was overcome with indecision. My gut was saying run for the hills, but logically, I knew that this was my best opportunity. I felt guilty for not wanting it and for wasting other people’s time.
I needed clarity—a message from Baby J about what to do and who to be.
So, I did what I always do in times of bewilderment: I read my Free Will Astrology, then asked my dead dogs and Grandma for a sign…
Next week: the final installation of San Francisco, Run for the Hills (Part 3).
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