As far as I can tell, the people at the work think that I’m boring. And I don’t blame them. I’m mostly in my own head at the office, barely expressing any words not directly related to the projects I’m involved with. A few weeks into the job, still unencumbered by even the slightest connection with anyone here, I’m sitting silently at my desk when I overhear a conversation materializing at some nearby cubicles.
Co-worker 1: “Hey, what’s that Julia Stiles movie about dancing?”
Co-worker 2: “Ah, I don’t remember. Step Up or something.”
Unconsciously and without looking up from my computer, I intercede. “Save the Last Dance.”
Co-worker 1: “Oh, thanks. Do you know a lot about movies?”
Me: “Only ones with Julia Stiles.”
A few other heads turn as they notice the new guy finally divulging a little something about myself. It doesn’t seem to come across that I’m kidding with my last line, my deadpan going unappreciated. This obviously makes it even funnier.
And so I make the abrupt decision to keep the joke going for as long as possible. To keep myself stimulated and occupied during my time here, I resolve to become the resident Julia Stiles expert.
Me (interrupting the lull): “‘Dance’ isn’t her best movie though. Not by a long shot.”
Co-worker 1: “Oh no? What —”
I interrupt a person this time and declare with conviction, “Well, it’s undeniable that ’10 Things I Hate About You’ is her best work, so we don’t even need to talk about that. O, alongside Mekhi Phfieffer and the villainous Josh Hartnett, that really cemented her place in our culture as one of the greats. And we can’t forget about how she stole all her scenes in the Bourne films.”
I continue with an indirect anecdote about the actress. “And my friend keeps running into her around town. Like enough that Jules might think she’s stalking her.”
Co-worker 3: “Oh yeah? Does she live here in town?”
Me: “Uh, yes. She’s married to a Stevestonite.”
Co-worker 3: “What —“
Me: “That’s someone from Steveston. Not a durable suitcase.”
I let that and the preceding discussion stew for awhile, and back to work I go.
There will be whispers about what just went on, and I relish every sideways glance over the next little while. During meetings, I speak up more than before, now wide awake to the happenings. I keep my input on topic, but I make sure that every comment is a Julia Stiles analogy.
Boss: “Our client has lost a lot of market share recently, but they’re unwilling to spend any more marketing dollars. We need to come up with a unique way to get them back to top of mind for their customers.”
Me: “Yes, of course. This is just like the movie Blackway. Lillian, our beautiful client, needs our help. If we shift their programmatic ad spend over to social, focussing on Instagram stories specifically, We can be Lester’s rifle.”
Holy shit, the extended noiselessness that follows is the greatest thing I’ve ever heard, and I try my best not to let a Mona Lisa smile reveal my trickery. I mean, I know that Instastories is the best way to go, and they can’t disagree with my idea, but based on the confused looks, none of them have seen or even heard of Blackway. To hammer my reference home, I continue, “Oh, sorry, you likely know it as Go With Me. I’m glad we’re all back on the same page now. I felt like Julia’s character in The Omen for a minute there, just unaware I was raising this demon baby for years! Now I don’t want you all thinking I’m pulling a Wicked here by getting rid of the rest of you so that Boss Lady goes with my idea. I really do think it’s the only way to go, but of course all input is welcome.”
Co-worker 2 (hesitating): Uh, we could do a big billboard on the highway instead.
Boss (hesitating as well): “Great idea! Sorry, but I’m not sure if Instastories is the way to go. Just between us, it could lead to serious trouble if the social makeover becomes a disaster.”
Boss must be on to me, but nobody else is. An inevitable long con awaits.
Little do they all know, but I withhold ever mentioning the most telling Stiles film of all, Business of Strangers. In under a year, my revenge plot against the honcho will come to fruition, as I successfully accuse her of professional misconduct, and I take over as Boss Lady. Productivity goes through the roof, as expected, and the 10th of every month becomes Julia Awareness Day, with the employee showing up with the best Stiles style getting a nice little bonus and a pat on the head. The first month, that fat stack and rigorous head pat go to our newest employee, my first hire, already first on the call sheet of the payroll – Julia friggin’ Stiles.