In Which I Make an Excellent George Harrison
Before you go hunting for the famous crosswalk from the Abbey Road album cover, I hope you have friends as nice as mine. Friends who will message you back at all hours of the night (due to the time difference) saying “ABBEY ROAD IS NOT AT THE ABBEY ROAD TUBE STOP.” or “Abbey Road Studios is at the St. Johns Wood tube stop. Yes, I am sure and I know it makes no sense.” If you’re friends aren’t that kind (or that familiar with London), then let me be that friend and be the first to tell you that the famous crosswalk is at the St. John’s Wood tube stop, not the Abbey Road one.
Getting off the tube station, at St. John’s Wood, I realized that I didn’t really know which way to go. I hadn’t planned on even going, except that the same friends who had warned me about the tube stop had also said that Abbey Road was not to be missed. They told me to stop pretending that I was too cool and just check it out. I’d sent the message right before leaving the wi-fi bubble of the hotel and hadn’t asked too many more questions. Walking down the empty street, as the sun began the first signs of setting, I’d wished that I had.
I inspected every crosswalk that I passed, trying to figure out whether it was the one of Beatles fame. Obviously I didn’t know my Beatles history well enough to know that the Abbey Road recording studio still stands. Silly me to think that I would be the only person looking for the famed stripes. When I finally turned a corner and saw the groupings of people on both sides of the next crosswalk, I knew that I’d found what I was looking for.
Queued up on both sides of the crosswalk were groups of tourists holding their cameras, posing, and walking across in groups of four. Leaning against the fence, I watched the groups take turns and pass off their cameras, trying to achieve the perfect photo while playing chicken with the oncoming cars. This may be the only street where flashing headlights don’t detour tourists from standing in the road. I told myself that I didn’t want to look stupid and walk across the road by myself. That just seeing it was enough. But, I couldn’t get myself to turn around. I knew that I had to swallow my pride and just do it. Finally, I got in line, put my head down and walked quickly across the road, trying to doge both judgment and cars.
On the other side, there were two girls about my age sitting on a low wall. While I hated myself for walking across the road, I knew that I would hate myself more if I left without a photo. Even if it was just me posing in front of the madness.
“Excuse me, I know this is really lame, but do you mind taking my picture? I can’t go home empty handed.” I hoped that the girls spoke English and took my picture quickly before I felt like any more of a lonely loser. Traveling alone means that you constantly have to ask a stranger to take your photo.
“Sure,” the blonde girl smiled. “Or, if you want, you could wait with us. We’ve been on the look out for two more people. If you stay, then we only need one more.”
“You don’t mind?” I didn’t want to appear desperate, but I also couldn’t believe my luck.
“You’d be doing us a favor,” the brunette agreed. “We are not leaving here without a picture of that looks exactly like the album cover. We’ve also been scouting for the perfect person to take it. No luck yet.” She looked over her should at the tourists gathered by the crosswalk. “Mostly we’re looking for someone else who speaks English.”
Sitting on the wall next to them, I watched as they alternated getting up and taking photos for people. I thought they were just altruistic, but they explained that they were looking for the perfect angle so they could then their future photographer exactly where to stand. Finally, they saw three girls walking down the street, speaking English and exchanged a look.
“Excuse me,” the blonde called. “We could you take a photo for us? Also would one of you be willing to be our John? We’re Paul and Ringo. If you don’t mind being George,” she turned and asked me. I smiled. As long as I got to be in the photo, I didn’t care who I was. The girls nodded and my two new friends began explaining where they wanted the photographer to stand. They came back with our John and began showing us exactly how to stand.
“Its going to be step, step, hit,” the brunette called string a mid-step pose.
The blonde glanced at me. “Sorry if we’re being obsessive. We came all the way from Australia for this.”
“Honestly, I’m just grateful to have people in the photo with me. I will do whatever,” I shrugged again. I couldn’t help but be honest. I had assumed that I’d have one awkward looking photo, but now I’d found a fab four to be part of.
The Australians pulled us up to the crosswalk and lined us accordingly. (Who knew that George is last? I didn’t.) They waited for a pause in cars and called for us to start walking. They called out to the photographer ‘step, step, step, shoot.’ We stopped mid-step and it almost seemed like time stopped for a half a second. I wondered if that’s how the four felt the day that they took the famous photo.
Across the street, the photographer handed back their phone amidst calls of ‘thank you’ from all sides. The other Australian put her phone and my hands and told me to find my Facebook profile so they could tag me in the photo. They also sent me down the street to take a selfie big Abbey Road sign. They swore it was the other necessary photo besides the one in the crosswalk.
By the time I got back to my hotel room I had a friend request, a photo notification and a message from my mom: ‘Your father asked who those girls are in the picture. I told him that you must’ve made yourself some new friends.’