Auditioning With Impersonators

It was exactly the wrong message at the perfect time.

Given that most of my projects don’t require my leaving my desk chair these days, I find myself riding the subway only rarely.

However, this week, it was indeed the most efficient mode of transportation for my annual physical at my Upper West Side doctor’s office.

Months ago I scheduled the first available appointment of the day in order to avoid both inevitable delays at her office as well as the rush hour commute.

Despite that, there were still several straphangers heading to their regular jobs, including a muscular finance bro beside me.

He wore casual summer casual clothes but I recognized the logo on his gym bag as a firm with over $72B in assets.

His polo shirt, however, only partially concealed his upper bicep tattoos.

On his right arm, I could only make out the letter “V” which, in my mind at least, I assume might be the start of “Victory.”

Even more intriguing was when the subway moved into a different borough and he switched arms, he revealed a left bicep tattooed with “Panic!”.

Of course, it seems a reasonable assumption that his upper shirt sleeve was covering up the word “Don’t.”

It’s also understandable that message might be something you need remind yourself from time to time when you’re managing $72 billon.

And, while I was actually looking forward to my physical, I realized that “Don’t Panic!” resonates thematically with this month’s theme, The Power of Intention, and more importantly, for some of my upcoming personal drama.

(Again, June Power of Intention Meditation HERE).

But more on that later…

I went down a bit of a rabbit hole this week regarding celebrities losing lookalike contests based on themselves.

While there’s a well-known anecdote about Elvis entering one in the 1970s and placing third, it might be apocryphal.

Michael Jackson, however, early in his career did in fact come in third in such a content.

Furthermore, Dolly Parton has mentioned in interviews entering a Dolly lookalike contest on Santa Monica Boulevard.

She admits to exaggerating her usual makeup and hairstyle but even so, a drag queen beat her.

Perhaps beginning this phenomenon in the 1920s, according to his son’s biography, Charlie Chaplin entered a lookalike contest of himself and did not even place. 

I’m fascinated that in life we bring so much subjectivity to a situation that we’re often incapable of recognizing “the real thing” even when it’s directly in front of us.

This anecdote occurred eons ago, in a nearly forgotten time when people used landlines and answering machines.

I was living in LA but I had spent the summer in NYC finishing a co-written mass-market book project.

My partner and I had sublet a section of a Flat Iron district communal office space from a colleague. 

Everything went swimmingly, but afterward, there was unresolved confusion about some aspect of our subletting agreement concerning the agreed upon endpoint.

It became clear that our loft lady summer landlord thought our version of truth was somehow bent, if not outrightly dishonest, and we were misrepresenting things to get out of paying her for additional time. 

In response, I left a polite and professional message on her answering machine, acknowledging the situation with phrases like “I’m sorry there’s some lingering confusion…”

After I hung up, however, I launched into a no-olds-barred, gloves-are-off monologue to my roommate.

Although I genuinely liked the loft office lady, I vented to my roommate in a lengthy tirade, sputtering that “She’s out of her mind if she honestly thinks we would have agreed to those two extra weeks. Honestly, she’s completely lost it.”

What I didn’t realize, however, is that I hadn’t hung up properly on my landline. 

Unbeknownst to me, both the polite intended message AND my unfiltered rant were recorded.

Learning this in her follow-up message, I was initially horrified.

Ironically, despite its blunt nature, the genuineness of my unintentionally recorded diatribe reassured her that my partner and I were being completely honest.

When it comes to knowing someone’s true intentions, sometimes you just can’t beat a hot mic.

You’ve probably seen the video from the BBC special, but in case you haven’t, there’s a heartwarming and humorous episode where Adele disguises herself as an Adele impersonator.

She adopts the persona of “Jenny,” a fictional nanny, wearing a fake nose and chin, and even changing her speaking voice.

Adele auditions for a mock talent show alongside her own impersonators. 

Only gradually, during the performance of Make You Feel My Love, does it become apparent to the other contestants and the audience that she’s the real thing.

Ranging from shock to joy, it’s telling that surface illusions fade away as someone’s genuine talent, the deeper layer of truth, ultimately reveals itself.

Speaking of things fading away…

I do have a simple request for those reading this newsletter, a thought experiment if you will.

While I have no intention of getting a “Don’t Panic!” tattoo, I believe that the collective good intentions of several thousand people might have an even greater effect. 

This Tuesday morning, there’s an annoying business/legal moment scheduled, one that could potentially just evaporate or might linger in a quest to cause death by a thousand paper cuts. 

I’d deeply appreciate your positive thoughts now––and ideally then––for the former outcome. 

I’m genuinely curious what will unfold. 

We live in a world where impersonators often triumph over authenticity, where intentions are sometimes obscured by politeness but exposed through bluster. 

Even so, I’m still convinced that positive outcomes can be influenced by the Power of Intention, and that in the end, like Adele’s talent, something honest and genuine longs to be revealed.

Please send your best intentions our way and who knows…

Maybe I’ll end up getting that “V” for Victory tattoo instead!

Namaste for Now,

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