There’s a running joke among my friends. I can beat Kevin Bacon, with me it’s not Six Degrees of Separation, it’s two. Maybe.
It gets rather ridiculous. With the existence of social media, it’s worse than ever before.
The final straw for a friend of mine happened at a random fundraising event we were invited to attend. The event director was an actor who I’d missed by mere weeks when we were both seasonal employees at a theatre company. After his departure, his headshot was pasted in every dressing room as a joke. I recognized him instantly. We’re now friends on Facebook and run into each other everywhere.
So a challenge was laid forth. I had to top the ridiculous instances of connection with mere strangers. I had to find a story of two degrees of separation that involved a dog, only the dog.
She was rather displeased to find I already had one.
My final year of school, I interned at a costume shop as an assistant to the head costumer. I spent weeks in a basement surrounded by clothing from any time period you could imagine, sorting, cleaning, cataloging, and preparing paperwork for designers. My favorite moments were when designers would come in to discuss the pieces that had to be built from scratch. Hours would be spent poring over watercolor sketches trying to match fabrics and discuss silhouettes. Bolts upon bolts of fabric would be brought out, it was always exciting, colorful, and the heart of the creative process, taking the idea and figuring out how to bring it to life. Many of these designers had small dogs that they would bring along. You could always tell when the dog had been around the costume shop before. There was one who came in several times, a snooty french bulldog named Paul. He would walk into each dressing room and sneeze before sticking up his nose and walking out. Twice I was sorting costumes when he made his rounds. I had never felt so judged by a dog before. When his owner began comparing fabric, he would roll his eyes and stomp over to his traveling crate until she finished. His precise judgement, eye rolls, and general behaviors were hysterical to watch. His owner was close friends with my boss (as well as incredibly talented and working on a large show that season), because of this, I got to watch Paul roll his eyes at our staff every week while I was working there.
Fast forward over two and a half years later. I’m working at a different regional theatre in a different state, nearly two hundred miles away. I’m now in the management office, I’m the apprentice to the Managing Director. Instead of costumes and watercolor sketches, my day-to-day now involves contracts and tax forms. I’m working in my shared office in an ancient house turned office building when I hear the soft click of nails on hard wood. There’s a familiar looking french bulldog that has somehow wandered into our office. He raises a judgmental eyebrow at the artistic office across the hall. In surprise, “Paul?”, slips out of my mouth before I have put it all together. The dog is as surprised as I am, clicks his way over to my desk before rolling his eyes and extending his head (and permission) to be pet. As I reach down to pet him, I hear the thud of footsteps from the other end of the hall. “Paul, what on earth are you doing here?” I ask of the dog as I check his tag to make sure, and indeed somehow this snooty dog and I have found each other again. An out of breath actor I’ve met only once hears me and runs into the room. He looks curiously at me and I look back at him just as puzzled.
“This is Jess Ford’s dog.” I say. He stares at me rather confused.
“I’m Jess Ford’s husband” is his response.
Of course. The man I heard her talking about to my old boss, about how Paul wasn’t sure if he accepted the new beau in her life. Two years ago in a costume shop miles away. Turns out he’d been in the audience for both shows I’d worked with her on, we chatted at the company parties about her designs and the shows. She came up for the opening weekend of his show and laughed hysterically when she realized that the common connection was discovered through Paul and his familiar attitude.
Two degrees of separation. It’s a thing.
The world is a tiny place.