12 Aug

Paul McCartney

Went up to San Fransisco this weekend to see the O’s play the Giants. Happily, O’s won two of three, but this conversation I had in the hotel bar trumps the games. Indeed, (and I’m not kidding) this is the most surprising conversation I have ever had with a stranger (or for that matter practically anyone). It was about nine o’ clock, I was in the bar having a quesidilla and a Sam Adams. There was a kind of chubby little Latina girl sitting next to me, guessing about twenty two or three. She and I got into a conversation and I told her I’d been to the game today, asked her what she’d done. She said, “I went to the music festival in Golden Gate Park. It was really great. Paul McCartney was there and he played for three hours, non-stop. Played the guitar, then moved over to the piano and sang and played the last hour there. He was amazing.”She had taken some pictures of paul on her I-Phone. She was pretty close to the front so you could see him pretty clearly. “Wow,”I said. He’s amazing isn’t he?” She smiled and said that he was but there was a kind of sadness in her face too. “What is it?”I said. “Just one thing wrong with him. ” “What’s that?” “He’s so …white.” I was stunned…confused. “You mean you didn’t know Paul McCartney was white?” “No, “she said. “I knew he was white but just not THAT white. I mean he’s the kind of white guy who is so white he can’t even get a suntan, ya know?” By this time the woman bartender was listening and she said, “Like what part of his name would lead you to believe Paul McCartney was anything but white?” “I know…I know,” she said, laughing at herself in a good natured way but still obviously bothered. Then I got it. I smiled at her and said, “So deep down in your soul you kind of fantasized that Paul McCartney’s real name is something like say…Enrique Hernandez? That all along he was a secret Latino? ‘ She was really laughing now but kind of in a “you got me” kind of way…She nodded her head up and down…”Yes, she said. “I always did. It’s true. And then I saw how really really white he is.” We all started laughing now. I goofed with her ,told her I’d heard he really was Mexican and just took the name McCartney so he could pretend to be British, that he wasn’t from Liverpool at all but Cabo San Lukas…All good natured silly stuff which we all laughed at. But she meant it. She had hoped for many years that Paul was a secret Latino and she was really a little disappointed. Before you say, “Well she must have been remarkably dumb,” let me add that she also told me she had studied film making last year at Oxford. She was really bright, and really imaginative and this was ,seriously, the most remarkable conversation I’ve ever had with a person of another race. I’ve had a thousand conversations with people about racism etc…and they are all very important, but this was something totally different…a sweet and touching admission…I love him so much but why can’t he just be more like me.