Written by Jeremy Stolle
Quick recap from last week: I met my girlfriend’s parents. They run a singing telegram business. I agreed to do an “emergency” walk-around Superman. I left off in a Superman costume that was too small, riding in a minivan, on the way to an unknown destination in downtown San Mateo.
We pulled into a parking spot directly in the middle of downtown San Mateo. My future mother-in-law took me to Capezio, a dance supply store. She planned to purchase a pair of red cheerleader’s trunks in an effort to solve my inseam fiasco. I followed her obediently into the store and to the register. It was obvious she was familiar with her surroundings and had been there before. She promptly introduced me to the Store-owner as, “Ashlee’s latest boyfriend.” (I am not going to lie, this stung.) As luck would have it, at that precise moment, the newest crop of little girls enrolled in the next semester of dance classes were sitting on the floor trying on their dance shoes! I will never forget the confused faces staring up at me when they registered that a six-foot-four superman had indeed entered the store to purchase red panties. I had to take the pair and walk through the sea of girls in order to get to the back of the store to try them on. They fit! One thing went right that day! She paid for the costume piece, gave me directions to the event, and sent me on my way to my first gig,
It took about 45 minutes to drive into downtown San Francisco. When I arrived at the Four Star Hotel I realized there wasn’t any available parking in close proximity to the job. So I took my car to the valet. The attendant took one look at my costume and laughed. He then informed me that I was not allowed to park in the valet because I was not a guest of the hotel. I began to panic. I was not familiar with the area. I had no idea where to park and I didn’t want to be late. He directed me to the crowded mall across the street. My heart sank. I did not have any other choice. I drove over, found a spot on the third floor, and parked the car. At that very moment I realized I had to pee.
I believe, in my heart, that if I had this same experience, in New York City, no one would have noticed. Alas, I wasn’t in New York.
I walked through the mall to find a restroom. Everyone who saw me pointed and laughed. I was even heckled, “It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane!” Suddenly I realized I was hungry. Since I was already in the mall and embarrassed, I decided to get a snack. I stood in line at the drug store waiting with several confused people. Oddly it never phased the check-out girl. She must have been from New York.
The shouting and jeering continued as I walked out of the mall and across the street. I sighed in relief as I approached the hotel. I was sent up to the third floor to meet the client and begin my one-hour commitment. The client greeted me at the door. He explained the circumstances of the group I was to entertain. Apparently the group was in a meeting. He instructed me to walk in and begin handing out coupons as soon as the presentation had finished. Just then a gentlemen walked out of the room and cued me to enter. I took one huge breath of air and followed the two men into a large room. There were approximately ten tables full of ten to twelve people. There was a long table in the front of the room which clearly seated five of the bosses. Suddenly, in the spotlight, my contact announces to the silent surprised room, “I would like to introduce you to my special guest …SUPERMAN!”
In what seemed like the longest three seconds of silence, my mind adjusted to the realization that I was no longer walking around in costume handing out coupons. Instead I would be doing a 15 minute solo Superman show. A show I had never done. I had approximately two and a half seconds to come up with a beginning, middle and an end. At that point it occurred to me that I should start introducing myself to the people around the room. I shook their hands and asked them questions. I trusted that as they spoke, the jokes would come to me. It soon became a roast. I teased a few of the employees. People laughed pretty hard. The real fun began when I found the CEO sitting inconspicuously at one of the tables. As I teased him the room resoundingly laughed three times harder than it had before. That was all the encouragement I needed. I decided to roast the bosses. People were laughing and they were laughing hard! Somehow I had filled the time. I moved on to the client who actually hired me and started asking him a few questions. His response was “Let’s all thank Superman for coming!” I took that as my cue to leave. He promptly escorted me out to avoid a third round of embarrassing questions about himself. He thanked me and gave me a tip to nearly double the money I had made that day. I would say it was a success. I walked my red ballet shoes, red panties, fake muscles, and Superman costume through the lobby of the hotel. I walked back down the road, got in the car, and drove back to the office.
I felt a sense of great pride on that drive back. I thought about how impressed my girlfriend would be. I shared my victorious story with the office secretaries and we all laughed. As I left the office to go home my soon to be sister-in- law walks in the door. She looked at me suspiciously. She knew Ashlee had returned to New York. In a rather stern and accusatory voice she asked me what I was doing there. I said with a smile, “I just did a superman for your mom.” I was so proud to have experienced the family business. She looked at me with years of experience and exhaustion after watching her mother hire friends and said, “Welcome to the family.”
I don’t know how one is supposed to meet their in-laws for the first time. Ashlee and I have been married for 7 years now. We have two beautiful children. But I admit I have never had the courage to do another gig.