Sunday, February 9, 2014

Life Is What Happens To You While You're Busy Making Other Plans

Fifty years ago,  two cousins were sprawled in front of a black and white TV, waiting for the Ed Sullivan show to start. The sophisticated older cousin, one week shy of 11 years old was explaining to the 9 year old  just who this Beatles band was.  When "I Saw Her Standing There" started, the older cousin sang out "One, Two, Three, Four". The stubborn younger cousin, probably already suffering from her first case of SAD, argued saying it was "One, Two, Three BOP." A general cat fight ensued, with the older cousin calling the younger one stupid.

The nine year old would like to offer her cousin a long-overdue apology.  She knew she was right even back then.  She blames it on the Polar Vortex or something.

My entire generation was influenced by that band, that night.  Whether it was the songs, the clothes or whatever, they had "it".   Boys wanted to be like them. Girls just wanted them.  We had their bubble gum cards, their notebooks and lunch boxes, the teen magazines.  As a chubby pre-teenager in the bedroom I shared with my little sister, I fantasized about their car breaking down in front of my house and Paul sweeping me away from my mundane existence.  I wanted to be called Michelle when "Rubber Soul" came out. I cried when the rumor circulated that Paul was dead-how could I live without him?

When the Beatles broke up, it wasn't that big a deal to me.  By then, I had met First Love, who was half Asian.  John had fallen hopelessly in love with Yoko,  so I felt somewhat vindicated in my choice of exotic boyfriends. And since First Love lived for baseball, not music I didn't miss those guys departure at all.

Then entered Wingman.  He was all about the music, all about the Beatles and mostly all about John Lennon.  He taught me the subtle nuances of their personalities and their songs.  I felt as if I had rediscovered a long lost friend. Or four. Less than a year later we went to The City and walked into a  SOHO art gallery where John Lennon Bag One lithographs were for sale.

The dealer tried to convince him to buy a piece, which was as easy as convincing Kris Jenner to pimp the Kardashians.  The only thing was...the night before, he got fired from his bartending job so HE HAD NO MONEY. They double-teamed me to buy a $150 framed lithograph with my new, $300 limit Master Card. Hell, I had just been thinking of breaking up with him for losing his job and he wanted me to buy ART?  I was 22 years old-what did I need a picture for?  He promised to pay me back if I would buy it for him. He swore that it would be valuable someday.  In the end, I caved but I refused to buy a second discounted piece for $100.  The litho stayed in my bedroom closet for five years because he never paid me. He married me instead.

Since the band couldn't find the sheet music for the song I wanted, we hurriedly scanned their song list and chose "Here, There and Everywhere" for our wedding song.  We moved to the beach and hung the litho in the apartment.

Over the years, Wingman's love affair with The Beatles individually and collectively never waned.  He'd play "Beautiful Boy" over and over when each of our sons was born.  We took the boys to see Ringo Starr and his All Star Band. (They were ultimately disappointed when Peter Frampton played.)  We took son #3 to see McCartney at The Garden.  The boys and I followed Wingman when he and his buddies formed a Beatles tribute band, and cheered wildly when they took second at Beatlefest.  And when that band broke up and  those friends went on to form other bands without him, it was Lennon and the Beatles who consoled him.  


His inner demons eventually won out. When it came time to planning his funeral, the boys and I included The Beatles.  We brought his Rickenbacker bass to sit next to the coffin-the same make guitar he played because Lennon played it. A guy who had been alienated from Wingman since the tribute band played "In My Life".  And rather than some Celtic Blessing or something that he would have hated, the inscription on his memorial card read simply:

And in the end, the love you take
Is equal to the love you make.

And the litho?  It's still hanging over the fireplace.  And just like that stubborn nine year old fifty years ago, I should have listened when he wanted to buy the second piece. It's worth a heck of a lot more than $150. Sorry Buddy, you were right after all.

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