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September 12, 2011

Yoko Oh No!

by David Hayes

It really was a nice apartment. Seriously. Chicago rehabs are notoriously big, and this was no exception. Two large family rooms, eat-in kitchen, large bay windows… all was right with the world for the first month. And then THEY came.

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A month after our move, the apartment below us filled. Two very nice guys, roommates. A little shy, but my wife and I heard one of them mumble something about a band they were in. We smiled, envisioning an entire apartment building filled with artists… like a collective. We saw a day where I would shoot a film and walk across the hall to have it scored, or go downstairs and have a brilliant tenant in a studio apartment design a wonderful poster. My wife and I smiled to each other and started the trek upstairs. From the apartment below, and presumably our new neighbors, the Beatles' White Album began to play and filled the hallway with John, Paul, George and Ringo.

'Cool.' I thought to myself. 'At least they like good music!' We carried on to our apartment until we sat in front of the bay windows, pinching ourselves at our fortune from the apartment gods.
It began a week later. 3 a.m., I was awoken from a deep, dark sleep (where elves danced at Ikea and I found a really great bookcase that was as light as air and I stopped, holding the bookcase aloft like Hercules in one of his many tasks, in order to sample a baguette and duo espresso from the floating coffee bar… but I digress). I sat up with a fright and glanced over to my wife, who was still asleep. I looked around the darkened room, unsure of what could have caused the interruption of the elves at Ikea dream, and noticed an odd, warbling sound coming from the floor. At first I thought the plumbing had gone… never in my life had I heard such a complete and utter noise. 'Nothing made by humans!' I surely thought. Old rusty pipes… or rats. Yeah, that was it as I drifted back to sleep.

The next night, at approximately the same time, I woke again. The same sounds were there… but louder. More warbling. And I thought I heard, well, words. This strange, inhuman yodel started to take on the shape of words! English words, in a way, and not English all at the same time.

Perplexed, I gingerly crept out of bed and made my way to the center of the disturbance. In the middle of my second (ahhh, the memories) living room, the noise what at its loudest, and most annoying. I finally realized that it was coming from the apartment below.

'The new guys?' I asked myself. What kind of devilish ritual could they be involved in with THAT noise? My eyes narrowed, my lip curled in an angry sneer. Beware, new guys, beware. The sleeping giant had awakened!

A t-shirt (Linda Carter's Wonder Woman, if memory serves) was hastily thrown on. I opened the door to my apartment and a blast of the previously muffled sound hit me like a tidal wave. A tidal wave that not even Shelley Winters could out swim. My head, encased in a cloud of yodeling, drums, warbling and maybe a guitar, I headed down the stairs.

Step after agonizing step, louder and louder… but I forced myself on. The fate of my family depended on it. I stood before the new guys' door after what seemed like a decade of war and prepared to knock. Suddenly, the door swung open. The blast from that nearly bowled me over. I clutched onto the doorjamb, teeth gritting, ears bleeding and looked up. What I saw wasn't enough to drown out the noise, but it added to the psychedelic maelstrom I experienced.

Before me stood New Guy #1. Dressed, in exacting detail, like John Lennon from the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover. He smiled, truly glad to see me for some odd reason. I managed a painful grin and looked past New Guy #1. Seated on their shabby musician's couch was New Guy #2, in an exact replica of Paul McCartney's costume from the Sgt. Pepper album cover. He stood up and walked toward New Guy #1, probably to greet me. As he stood, George and Ringo (or reasonable facsimiles there of) stepped in and filled the void to make my British Invasion nightmare complete. I stared at the four of them, all at once, mouth hanging open.

"Dude!" New Guy #1 managed to yell over the music. I slowly turned to him, eyes wide as platters, "Its vinyl, man… VINYL!"

New Guy #1 held something in his hands. His smile reached ear to ear. I looked down, unaware of the horror that awaited me. Clutched in his hands, that were trembling incidentally, was Yoko Ono's album. Yoko Ono? Yoko ONO? John's wife? Julian's mother? Paul's nemesis? Then it came. The yodeling accompanied by drums, dear God! Someone bought it… and played it… loud… below me! The record that should never have been was being proudly displayed, by a Beatles cover band. A Beatles cover band, dressed like Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (sans wigs) at 3 in the morning.

I managed to nod to the New Guys (I had no idea!). I also managed the 'OK' sign between thumb and forefinger and pointed it toward the accursed album (Why?! Oh God, why?!). Both New Guys smiled, looked at each other, and then looked back at me. I took that opportunity to turn tail and ran up the flight of stairs as fast as I possibly could.

I sat, huddled into a corner, attempting to avoid Yoko. Again and again it played. After a while, I even began to understand the words.

When my wife awoke that next, bleary day, we began the hunt for another apartment.

After all, when you're home is infested with Beatles, there really is no way to get them out.

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