There was a small line outside the Bag o'Nails when I arrived there.
From what I could tell from my place at the back, they were letting people in in small groups, making sure that none of them looked suspicious. I got in easily since I didn't look dangerous at all. Inside the club it was dark, fairly smoky, and a bit loud. The Kinks were being blasted over the speakers as people mingled around the tables and the bar.
There was a good-sized crowd on the dance floor, although I could tell that more people would be dancing as the night wore on. Since I was by myself, I decided to take a seat at the bar. I ordered a Coke, and just sat sipping my pop while watching the other clubbers. I wanted to get up to dance, but I wasn't a very outgoing person, especially by myself in an unfamiliar club. After about 20 minutes of just sitting at the bar, I decided I needed a little something to help me loosen up. I ordered a gin and tonic and drank it quickly, hoping the alcohol would cure me of my shyness. Once I finished my drink, I got up and began dancing with a group of people. During the course of the night I was "adopted" by a group of friendly girls who were in their mid-twenties and had noticed I was alone. They made sure that every time there was a slow song I had a dance partner and that I got my share of alcohol as well.
These girls seemed to have boundless energy, and after about two hours of straight dancing, I was in need of a break. They understood, but kept on dancing as I headed back to the bar to sit down. I began looking around at the people who were in the club. I thought I recognized Pete Townsend of the Who and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, but since I wasn't sure, I didn't want to go up to them. Upon looking around, I noticed that one man in particular was looking at me. At least, he seemed to be looking at me; it was hard to tell with it being so dark and smoky. He was sitting at a table about ten feet away from the bar with a woman whom he appeared to be ignoring. He was wearing a blue button-down shirt and what appeared to be dark blue tinted glasses. I decided to find out if he was indeed looking at me and smiled in his direction. He smiled back, confirming that he was gazing at me. My heart fluttered when I saw him get up from his table and start to walk over towards me, leaving the woman at his table with a look of disgust on her face. He had barely taken two steps before a fairly large man with a goatee and thickly-framed glasses came up and said something to him, which resulted in both men leaving the club. I was disappointed, but not too much, and got up from the bar and went back on the dance floor.
I stayed at the Bag o'Nails until about 12:30 when the girls who had taken me in were going to go the Scotch.
"We're going to try to get in 'cause we heard that Mick Jagger supposed to be there tonight," one of the girls said in a thick London accent.
"It'll be a blast, come with us," another said.
"I'd love to, but I'm completely beat. I don't know if I'll even make it to the Underground, I'm so tired. You guys go ahead and try to find Mick."
"Alright. We're going to come to the Bag Saturday night, so if you come then try to find us."
"I will. It was nice meeting all of you."
It was refreshing to feel the cool night air after being in a stuffy, smoky club all night. The ride from Soho to my apartment wasn't that long, but I nearly fell asleep anyway, I was so tired. I didn't bother getting undressed before I went to bed that night, although I did take off my boots. Right before I went to sleep, my mind wandered back to the mysterious man who had smiled at me that night. I wonder if I'll see him again sometime . . .
A beam of sunlight from the partially open blinds woke me up the next morning around ten. I didn't even bother looking at myself in the mirror since I already knew that I would be a mess. I hopped into the shower, which did wonders in helping me wake up. After a breakfast of cereal and coffee, I went into the living room and flipped on the television. I watched the news for a little while before getting dressed and making the bed. Once I got dressed, I remembered that I still needed to get "dinner" food, so I went back to the grocery store.
I walked the aisles at the store getting pasta, spaghetti sauce, chicken, beef, and some vegetables. When I was putting my groceries in a bag, I noticed that I had almost too much food for one bag, since I had also gotten another quart of milk. Not wanting to carry two bags, though, I rearranged the food until I fit everything into one, although the head of lettuce was sticking out a little.
I walked out, carefully balancing my bag on left hip since my purse was over my right shoulder. The head of lettuce sticking out meant that I was a little blinded on my left side, but I made sure to walk far enough on the right side of the sidewalk that I wouldn't run into anyone. I was about halfway back to the apartment when I stopped to fix my purse, which was sliding off my shoulder. Just as I had finished adjusting my purse, someone ran into the left side of me, knocking me completely over and spilling my groceries. I automatically tried to catch myself from falling by putting my hands out, but this only resulted in my hands getting scraped on the sidewalk. Once I was firmly on the ground, I looked up and saw a man in a white shirt and blue tinted glasses standing over me, apologizing profusely. He looked and sounded very familiar.
"Hey, you're the girl I saw at the Bag o'Nails last night!" the man said after a moment.
"Yeah, I am, and you're . . ." I thought for a moment. I knew that I had seen him at the club the night before, but I felt like I knew him from somewhere else. All of a sudden, it came to me. "Oh my God, you're-"
"Richard," he broke in before I could say his name. He knelt down beside me and said quietly, "I don't really want to attract a lot of attention."
"Oh, I understand, it's just that I don't get knocked over by a Beatle everyday," I replied in a whisper.
"I'm so sorry I ran into you, luv, I wasn't paying attention to where I was walking and then all of a sudden you pop up. Here, let me help you with your groceries."
I would have told him I was alright and could gather my groceries myself, but my hands were too scraped up to pick up much. Once all of the groceries were in the bag, I tried to pick it and my purse up, but found it very painful to hold anything in my hands. I tried holding the bag on my hip with my left arm, and although this worked, the bag was not very stable.
"Oh dear, your hands are all scraped," Ringo said noticing my injuries.
"Yeah, a little, I'll be OK, though." "No you won't. That bag will fall any moment; you'll never make it to wherever you're going. Let me carry it for you."
I hated to take up his time carrying my groceries, but his adorable Liverpool accent was too hard to resist.
"Alright, I'll let you, but only because I don't want my bananas bruised anymore than they already are," I replied with a smile.
"Where do you live?" he asked as we began walking.
"About 3 blocks that way," I replied pointing in the general direction of the apartment building.
The walk back to my apartment was fairly quiet, as I could tell Ringo was trying his hardest not to attract any attention to himself. He kept his head down most of the time and carried the grocery bag near his face to conceal it a bit. He did ask what my name was, though, since I had never gotten a chance to tell him. We arrived at the building and he insisted on bringing my groceries up to the apartment.
"This is a pretty nice flat you've got here," he said as I opened the door.
"Thanks, but it's not mine. I'm just renting it for the summer."
"On holiday, are you?"
"Oh, just set them down in the kitchen over there," I said pointing to the kitchen door.
"Well, I'm trying to make up for not talking to you last night at the club," he said smiling.
"If that's the case, then, go right ahead," I answered with a grin.
I then walked back to the bathroom to wash my scraped hands while Ringo headed for the kitchen. I noticed then that my right hand was especially cut up, bleeding a little. As I ran the faucet, Ringo shouted from the kitchen,
"Where are you on holiday from?"
"Indiana," I shouted back.
"What made you decide to come all the way to London?"
"I don't know, really. I wanted to go away somewhere for the summer, and London sounded interesting."
"Did you come by yourself?"
"Yeah, I did."
"I must say, you're braver than I am, traveling all this way alone."
"Thanks, but it's not really bravery, I just didn't really think about what it would be like to travel alone, I just did it."
We talked for a few more minutes, with Ringo asking me what I did back in Indiana and a little bit about my family.
"You know, I was about to go to lunch before I ran into you, would you like to come along?" Ringo asked.
"Sure, I could go for some lunch."
As we were walking to some restaurant that he had in mind, I couldn't help but express my astonishment at who I was lunching with.
"I can't believe that after only 2 days in London, I'm having lunch with Ringo Starr."
We ended up going to an Italian restaurant for lunch. It was fairly large and crowded, but no one seemed to notice that a member of the Beatles had walked in.
"I'm surprised that no one's looking over here at you," I said when we had been seated.
"Well, I'm pretty much a regular, so it's not that unusual for me to be in here. Plus, most of the people in here are too snotty to take notice of someone in a rock and roll band."
"Hmph, rude people," I said grinning.
"Shh, we wouldn't want to be upsetting them now, they might have us thrown out!"
I was overwhelmed by how kind Richie was being to me, but I had to wonder why. After a brief pause, I asked, "I hate to sound rude or anything, but why are you being so nice to someone you just met?"
"Well, being in the Beatles, it's rare to find someone who doesn't either scream at you or completely blow you off on first meeting, so when I do find someone who is an exception, I make sure to at least get to know them."
"Oh," I replied slightly blushing.
"So, you were just going to have lunch all by yourself?" I asked after we ordered.
"Yeah. Well, the others are still in the recording studio, but they don't really need me until a bit later and Maureen is at home with the kids."
"Aw, poor Richie, all alone."
"Come on, eating lunch alone is a lot better than going on holiday alone. Why didn't you bring someone along?"
"There was no one to bring along. I don't have many friends at college, and all my friends from high school have jobs over the summer or are going on vacation."
"What about a family member?"
"My brother would rather die than go on vacation with his big sister, and my older sister, Carol, is busy moving this summer."
"But you still decided to go?"
"Yeah, I was tired of doing everything that I was supposed to do and nothing that I wanted to do because of other people."
"Good, you have to do that sometimes."
We had a very pleasant lunch. I was surprised at how easy Richie was to talk to, considering how many fans he had to deal with everyday. He seemed genuinely interested in my life and didn't hesitate to tell me about his. At the end of lunch, I looked in my purse and came to the embarrassing conclusion that I didn't have enough money with me to pay for my meal. Richie, though, being the perfect gentleman, saw me digging in my purse and immediately told me not to worry about the bill.
He walked me back to my building, and we stopped outside the door.
"Thank you very much for lunch," I said.
"Thank you for coming with me. I'm expected back at the recording studio now, but I was wondering if some time tomorrow, when I have some down time, if I could show you around London a bit."
"Yeah, that would be wonderful. Here's my phone number, so you can call before you come," I replied as I scribbled my number down on a card from my purse.
"Great, I'll see you tomorrow, then."
I walked up to my apartment in a complete daze. Within less than two
hours, I had met one of the most famous people in the world and had arranged
to see him again the next day. It was almost too surreal to believe. Things
like this just didn't happen to regular people. From that moment on, I knew
that the summer of 1968 would be a special one.
Written by Blackbird. May not be reproduced in any form, by any means, without the permission of the author. Permission may be obtained by e-mail.
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