Misreading Signs Can Land You Three Degrees From Blowing the PresidentBy Kimberlee Auerbach
March 18, 2007
Driving down 19th Avenue on my way to work, windows rolled down, “Wonderwall” by Oasis blasting from the cassette player in my silver Mitsubishi Galant, the light turned red.
“Maybe you’re going to be the one who saves me?” I sang out loud with no shame.
It was 1996.
I was one year out of college, living with my friend’s older gay brother on Church and 15th in the Mission, right down the street from Muddy Waters, 3000 miles away from my parents’ failing marriage.
I thought creating a physical boundary would give me the emotional distance I needed. It gave me no such thing.
I was working for two documentary filmmakers in Sausalito who rarely paid me on time. I didn’t have any friends. And I ate way too many burritos.
I was poor, lonely and getting fat fast.
“Maybe you’re going to be the one who saves me?” I sang again, pushing down the break and looking up.
“What the fuck?!”
It was Jonah.
It didn’t matter what time of day it was, whether I was on my way to or from work, whenever the light turned red, whenever I stopped, it was always at Jonah Street.
I was convinced it was a sign.
Maybe I was a Jonah in a past life? Maybe my unborn son’s name was Jonah? And maybe, just maybe, Jonah would be the one to save me.
As I continued across the Golden Gate Bridge, fantasizing about Jonah, I hit rewind and listened to “Wonderwall” again.
Four months, one hundred burritos and fifteen pounds later, I decided to move back to New York.
I was tired of Oasis. I was tired of listening to my roommate have sex in the other room while I shoved chicken and guacamole down my throat. I was tired of feeling so alone.
Back in New York, I got a temp job booking crews for Worldwide Television News (now APTN). My parents filed for divorce and my mother moved into my building.
So much for boundaries.
Being able to walk to and from work helped me lose my burrito weight and I started to feel better about myself and my life.
Then I got the call.
“Hi, my name is Jonah, I’m calling from DC and I need to book a crew in Japan.”
“Excuse me?” I said.
It was the fall of 1997, a little over a year since I had left San Fransisco, and I had forgotten all about Jonah.
“A crew. I need a crew in Japan,” he repeated.
“Jonah… I once fell in love with a street sign named Jonah.”
“Uh, okay,” he said and paused. “Are you the one I should speak to about a crew.”
“Yeah, that’s me. Sorry.”
I had to be careful. I didn’t want to scare him away.
“Would you mind handwriting your request and sending it to me by fax?” I asked.
I was really into handwriting analysis at the time and thought it would be a great way to determine if he was, in fact, my Jonah. I had never met a Jonah before.
On my lunch break, I raced to Barnes & Noble on Broadway and 66th Street and found the biggest and best handwriting analysis book I could find. The downward loop of his J meant he was strong and passionate.
I had found my future husband. Only he didn’t know it yet.
I called him later that afternoon, trying not to squeal. We talked requirements. Dates. I made some calls. We were back and forth for a few weeks. Faxes. Confirmation numbers. Names. Contact information.
Then he popped the question.
“Listen, I’m going to be home for Thanksgiving. Wanna grab a drink?”
I tried to act cool, but my voice shot up a couple of octaves, “I would really, really, really like that.”
The night we planned to meet, my mother lent me her favorite pink cashmere sweater, telling me that all women look pretty in pink.
When I asked Jonah how I’d recognize him, he said he’d be the one “with the pink carnation” in his lapel.
Whoa, I thought. We’ll both be in pink, it doesn’t get more soul mate than that.
As I walked down the street, butterflies in my stomach, I sang out loud, “Maybe you’re going to be the one who saves me.”
I stepped into the bar, surveyed the room and spotted a pink rose next to a bottle of beer.
My eyes flew up.
There was a man staring at me, but it wasn’t Jonah. It couldn’t be. He was nothing like the Jonah in my head.
Jonah mouthed, “Kimberlee?”
I wanted to say, “No, I’m Jennifer,” but it was too late. I walked over and shook his hand.
“I thought you’d be a hippie,” he said and took a swig of beer.
We had one drink, went for a walk around the block and said goodnight.
Worst. Date. Ever.
“I’m sorry I was a disappointment,” he said, dropping me off at my building. “I know I represented myself differently over the phone. I was bolder, more outgoing. But seeing you in person. I don’t know. I find you intimidating. I can’t look you in the eye.”
How could I possibly be intimidating in my mother’s pink cashmere sweater?
I crawled into bed that night and cried myself to sleep.
A few weeks later, I got a job at Fox News Channel.
Trying to figure out the difference between KU band and C band satellite space kept my mind off Jonah and that damn street sign that got me into trouble in the first place.
I was there not even two months when I looked up at one of the TV monitors hanging from the wall and saw him.
“It’s no secret there’s no love lost between my mom and the President,” he said.
“What the fuck?!”
Turned out, Jonah was no ordinary Jonah. He was Jonah Goldberg, son of Lucianne Goldberg, the woman who convinced Linda Tripp to tape her conversations with Monica Lewinsky.
For the next several weeks, I saw Jonah’s face everywhere.
He was his mother’s official spokesman. It was weird. Why wasn’t she speaking for herself? I was convinced the Universe was fucking with me.
Then one day, my coworker tapped me on the shoulder. “Look, over there. Lucianne.”
She had apparently decided to break her silence and had come in for an interview.
I wasn’t sure what compelled me, but I ran over to her as she was leaving the newsroom. “Hi, my name is Kimberlee,”” I said, sticking out my hand to shake hers. “I went on blind date with your son. It didn’t work out, but still, I wanted to introduce myself.”
“Yeah, blind dates are hard. Jonah is my best friend. I love him. Did you see him on CNN this morning? Wasn’t he great? I think he’s so good. He has such a great presence.”
I didn’t know what to say, so I nodded and smiled.
As she walked away, it occurred to me that no one really knows anything. What I thought was going to be a story about finding my soul mate turned into a three-degrees-from-blowing-the-President story, and what America thought was a right wing conspiracy to bring down the President was really just one woman’s scheme to launch her son’s on-air career.
P.S. I went back to San Fransisco a few years ago and retraced my commute from Church Street to the Golden Gate Bridge, down 19th Avenue, and guess what? There is no Jonah Street. It’s Judah Street. Fucking Judah. Talk about misreading signs!