It’s incredible, a person strives their whole childhood and teenage life working to make it through college, but once they do, they haven’t the slightest idea where to go next. As of now I have successfully received my BA in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, but who knows if psychology is what I want to spend the rest of my life doing?
I minored in English Literature and I have strong interest in books and reading so there’s always the chance I could end up as an English teacher or even in the publishing business.
Sadly, in times like these all that matters in the business world is how well a woman can type. The first question I’ve always been asked at a serious job interview is, “How many words can you type a minute?” It’s amazing, it’s 1965 and the women’s liberation movement doesn’t seem to have any effect on the world. I was lucky enough to get a part time job as a salesperson in Macy’s.
I do however know for certain my life-long desire to see England must be fulfilled. My best friend Pam lives there. We had played together as little children up until third grade when she moved away. At first I was devastated but we continued to stay in contact through mail and sometimes over the phone, which gave me some insights on the country that has continuously grasped my curiosity.
I’ve always been fascinated by British accents and the like, not to mention, the new band, The Beatles has certainly made England sound even more appealing. Ever since I first saw them on the Ed Sullivan Show last year, I was never the same, with a long-lasting desire to meet them, talk to them, maybe even date one, but then again, where could you find a girl who doesn’t share that same wish nowadays? Beatlemania has started and I’m just a tiny portion of the mad craze of Beatle hysteria. The need to re-evaluate my life and my newfound freedom gives me reason to go out exploring—destination: London, England.
I call Pam and after a lengthy, heated discussion we decide the trip is a great idea. I call my parents and schedule a plane to take me away for a full month—from October to November. The distance and length of trip isn’t necessarily my parents’ cup of tea, but they understand my need for adventure. Not to mention, they know I’ll be in good hands.
It’s only October 2, a full week until departure! I may be twenty-two, but I must admit I have the patience of my eight-year old sister, Cordelia. The next 7 days become the slowest days of my life while I rush to finish my shift in the Macy’s linen department and get my $80 for the week.
The days drudge on painfully as I await what I hope to be a particularly eventful trip to London. Every night I go over my packing list to make sure that my suitcase is carrying all necessities—including my beloved copy of John Lennon: In His Own Write and my favorite picture of the Beatles that I found in the newspaper some time back. I lose myself in a dreamy gaze at the Fab Four but quickly bring myself back to earth. Being twenty-two years of age, I try my best not to let others become aware of my incredibly childish crush on Paul, or my high esteem for John.
Of course, having an eight-year old, George-obsessed sister made it much easier for me to buy albums and posters without seeming suspicious. Pam understands my infatuation with the British group as well, but prefers “Johnny boy” (as she likes to call him) whom she “simply adores.” Although I must say her chances with him are slim, especially since I’ve heard he’s married, the faithfulness of the Beatles has always been questionable in my mind, which would always once open the door of opportunity for her.
I too, would fall for John myself but the knowledge of his as a married man has always kept me at a distance. Not to mention, my high esteem for his intellect has also made me somewhat intimidated. If I ever were to meet him I get a sense that I would probably be rather uncomfortable and insecure in his presence.
Though jumping into the impossible, by imagining the actual possibility of meeting him, I must admit I’d thought about it. But then again, who hasn’t? I can see myself shying away and being terribly afraid to say something that would make me feel stupid afterward, while at the same time killing myself to impress him.
Pam has never bothered to think twice on the two issues, one because she knows how unfaithful he is anyway, and two, because she would love the challenge of trying to beat him at his own game. It is for this reason that I’ve left him for her.
Paul, on the other hand, I know would simply cause me to melt. Though I’ve often wondered if the wonderful and charming personality I see on the television is real, I like to at least think it is and that is why I “simply adore” Paul. I understand his tact when it comes to the media and hope that he truly is the charismatic, sweet, intelligent young man I see.
He has to be more than a pretty face to write such wonderful music and there is something about the way he appears to be a gentleman while at the same time extremely mischievous that has always attracted me. If ever came across the chance of an actual rendezvous with Paul, I can see myself just as self-conscious as with John. I would be striving to not make a fool of myself, while also trying my utmost to not let on that I have such a teenage head over heels crush on him. Nonetheless, there’s no doubt I would be all in all overjoyed.
This is not to say I haven’t thought much of George or Ringo; I have. George has always left me with a sense of mystery as to his personality. The only sources I have had access to in order to guess each of the Beatles’ personalities are the few interviews or articles I have read, and television appearances I have seen.
Sadly, none of these have ever let me see anything more than how they want to be viewed by the public eye. George being the designated “Quiet One” leaves room for much speculation, though I must admit I sense him to be a great deal more cynical and outspoken behind closed doors than Brain Epstein would like the world to think. Something tells me it’s this hidden naughtiness that has always attracted Cordelia.
As for Ringo, he’s always seemed to be the adorable, huggable teddy bear that I could truly find as a nice, maybe even close friend, but nothing more. I know I could feel comfortable around him without even trying, as well as share confidences and know they are safe. But when it comes to romance, Ringo doesn’t seem to fit the bill.
Although I am fully aware of how ridiculous it is for me to have ever bothered to analyze each one of their personalities and how I would act if I met them, but I know I’m not alone and continue with the philosophy, “Why not dream?”
I check the suitcase one last time and set out my clothes for the departure, extraordinarily anxious. My choice of a plain blue sweater and blue jeans reflects my ready-for-anything attitude. The next month remains a blank canvas, just waiting to be painted on with new experiences.
The morning finally arrives and after a quick breakfast of toast and scrambled eggs, I pick up my two suitcases and purse and glance over my small New York apartment for the last time. I sigh as I look at the living room I had so carefully designed and check once more that the kitchen is perfectly organized.
I was elated when I had first found out that I could own my own apartment. It was nowhere near the University, which sent my parents into utter confusion when I had first told them I wanted it. My only explanation simply was that Pennsylvania wasn’t my favorite place. It may have been a beautiful state and house the University I gained my BA from, but it also carried with it some incredibly stressful memories. I had found myself with a professor who, for some reason, had picked me as his fetish.
He was a pedophile and when I made it clear to him I was not interested, he turned my life into a hellish nightmare and needless to say my grades automatically dropped. Senior year of college was spent with me agonizing over the accuracy of my grades. I hoped New York City, my hometown, would bring me better memories. Ever since I was little I had always planned on spending the rest of my life there and it just made more sense to gain an apartment for my future instead of one to sustain me for my few years at University of Pennsylvania, which I would give up anyway.
I was bound to be late if I didn’t rush to catch a taxi at this point, so I quickly brush back my waist-length brown hair, and take a brief glance in the mirror to check my make-up, before locking the door. After double-checking that the door is completely locked, I pick up my two suitcases and head for the elevator.
I finally make it out onto the sidewalk and the taxi arrives. I put my luggage in the trunk and hop in the back. The drive to the airport zooms by while my head drifts aimlessly through the clouds, lost in an idle daydream of my possible future adventures.
It will be great to see Pam again. Despite sending each other a few pictures here and there via mail I really don’t have much of an idea of what she’s grown to look like. As a little girl she always had beautiful long blonde hair and bright green eyes that attracted much attention, even from elementary school boys.
I suppose I must have been noticed at some point as well, but my callers never were quite so verbal as hers were. Although I would love to find some romance of my own in England, my month-long stay makes it unlikely and foolish. Of course, that’s not to say I’m not going to let myself have a great time. Maybe I’ll allow some flirtations, a date or two, but nothing more.
I am abruptly brought back to earth by the cab driver that demands his money. I hand it to him, gather my belongings and make my way into the airport.
I spend an eternity tagging luggage, along with usual airport bustle, and finally make it onto the plane. Just in time for another long wait, I think. Oh well, No pain, no gain. I had always hated that expression but always felt the need to recite it after hearing my high school friend, Lydia, say it millions of times throughout our arduous homework assignments as a means of lifting moral.
I fasten my seatbelt, take out a paperback to read during the dull ride, and adjust my watch. A rather large balding man with a gray moustache sits next to me and rather rudely pulls the shade down on the window. The situation reminds me of the train scene A Hard Day’s Night, but I decide that since I’ll be stuck next to this square the whole ride I might as well not bother protesting.
I sigh and turn on the light overhead. Soon enough I fall asleep. I wake up to the large man with the gray moustache telling me the ride is over and that I should get up. I open my eyes and see a youthful twinkle in his eyes, Maybe he’s not quite so bad as the man in A Hard Day’s Night, after all, I think.
After retrieving my suitcases, I take a crinkled piece of paper where I had scribbled Pam’s address and phone number. Hmm…56 Worple Avenue…How am I going to find my way there? I get on a shuttle that appears to be picking up England tourists. This is supposed to be an adventure so why do a bit of exploring before finding my destination? The shuttle stops and I get off with a few other passengers who all go their separate ways.
Usually I would consider my suitcases heavy but for some reason breathing the air of the country that is home to my best friend and favorite band makes them feel as if I’m carrying bags of air. I breathe deeply and walk until I find myself in a park. Now tired and feeling the weight catching up with me, I search for a bench and after a bit of looking, spot one next to a maple tree. The brown leaves cover the ground and I sigh as they crunch underneath the weight of my suitcases. I look to my left and see a rather good-looking man staring at the ground.
I notice his mop top hair cut. In my mind I can almost hear my father objecting to it.
“Why can’t these kids nowadays have short hair like we used to? Why must they prance around looking like unshaven apes?”
Every time I was forced to listen to his sermon I would always sigh and not bother responding, after all, I happen to find the haircut rather attractive. I stare at the back of the man to my left, wishing to see his face, yet unable since he continues to lean over and stare dully at the ground. At most I can vaguely make out his profile, consisting of a rather distinguished nose and thin lips that seemed strangely familiar to me.
“Well, hello to you too,” I say, feeling a bit daring, especially since this man could have been a serial killer and I chose to be sarcastic to him. The man looks up and I become puzzled. I recognize the face but fail to place it with a name. I crinkle up my forehead as I usually do when unsure of myself, and he seems to notice. His facial expression changes as if to challenge me.
“’ello,” he says. I stare into his light brown hair, cut right above his eyebrows and brown eyes. I suddenly realize, That’s John Lennon! John Winston Lennon! Of the Beatles! I figure the last thing this man wants is a screaming banshee jumping next to him so I pretend to still not know who he is. Why else would he come to a park, alone, but to get away from the mess of Beatledom?
“Please don’t,” he says. “Please don’t yell.” He looks distressed, I wonder why but decide to continue feigning confusion.
“Yell? Why? Are you a serial killer or something, ‘cause if you are, I really ought to be going…”
He smiles and replies, “No, it’s just, you—“ he seems to fall for my naivete and seems to almost enjoy it. “You---I thought you’d think I was someone else.”
“Someone else? I must admit I do recognize you from somewhere but I can't seem to place a name…” I force myself to look at the ground so as not to break concentration, to break character could destroy the believability of my act, thus ruining this perfect opportunity to meet the Beatle I so strongly idolize.
“Oh, well, lots of birds seem to mistake me for someone. Someone I’m not---John Lennon to be exact.” The sound of this incredible man uttering his own name sent a chill up my spine. He was the person I admired above all when it came to intellect and there he was, facing me, pretending he was someone else.
“Oh really? You don’t look like ‘im at’all,” I say in my best British accent. I felt the need to quote A Hard Day’s Night but then wondered if the reference revealed my own knowledge of this man in front of me indeed being John Lennon.
He smirked at the reference but didn’t seem to pick up on my hidden knowledge. “You like the Beatles, then?”
“Yes, a great deal, ever since I saw them on the Ed Sullivan Show. I’ve never been to any of the concerts, I’m a bit old, after all, but I must admit I can’t help but like them. ”
“So which one’s your favorite, you know, favorite Beatle?”
Now that was just crossing the line, he clearly believed that I thought he was just some poor sap (or should I say some extraordinarily lucky sap) who girls seemed to mistake for John Lennon and now he was being sneaky enough to ask my favorite Beatle. I decide to play a bit with his mind as a means of a minor revenge.
“I don’t know---I never really got their names down properly, but I do know, you know, that one that people said you look like…”
His face brightened, “John Lennon, you mean?”
“Yes…he’s definitely my least favorite.” I felt almost cruel playing such a horrible joke on him, especially since I keep him on such a high pedestal. But if he’s going to take advantage of my supposed naivete, I have a right to fight back. His face sunk a bit, but he recomposed himself. I began to feel guilty. He was clearly already down and now you drag his confidence to a new low, great job, Julia. Very impressive. Why not just slap your idol across the face or something?
I decide to give up on the game. “I’m joking—kidding. It’s obvious you truly are the one and only John Lennon and I felt like playing a bit with your mind just as you were doing with me---I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. If I did, I just want to let you know that I admire you a great deal. I originally did it because it seemed as though you didn’t feel in the mood to deal with a screaming, chaotic fan letting all passerbys in the park know you’re sitting here in private contemplation, so I decided to play along.”
His face remained expressionless. “Listen, it was stupid of me, I guess it was just the thrill visiting my dream country for the first time and meeting one of my favorite Beatles influenced my better judgement---I’m sorry, I’ll just go.” I begin to stand up and grab my bags, kicking myself in the head ten million times for ruining what could have been my dream experience.
“No, wait. You got me. Don’t go, not yet at least. It’s not every day I meet a bird that can beat me at me own game.” He laughs a bit. “I shouldn’t have toyed with you like that either, I guess it’s all the pressure, gets me you know? Begin to feel like I’m in a cage.”
“I understand,” I say, surprised he asked me to stay and begin to share a confidence. I sit down again realizing he must be lonely. He grasps his hands together to make one large fist and looks back down at the ground. “I’ve found a good way to raise moral is to set goals that you later attempt to achieve. That, and spending time in a park surrounded by solitude.” John smiled, whether or not it would have any effect on him later in life, he did seem to appreciate the fact I cared.
“So, how’d you find yourself here in London?” He clearly was too upset to discuss anymore with a complete stranger. The change of subject seemed appropriate.
I smile, “Well, my best friend Pam had moved here when we were in third grade and ever since I’ve had a strong interest in England and all things British. I just got my BA in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, I minored in English lit, and well, found myself here, for a month of relaxation, fun, and discovery.” It was then I remembered the time. I look down at my watch. I felt a tinge of disappointment but knew my loyalties were to Pam, and no matter how excited I was over meeting a Beatle, the conversation would have to come to an end.
“Oh, and talking about discovery, I better discover Pam’s house before it gets dark and I’m totally lost. I just got off the plane, jet lag hasn’t hit me yet, but I failed to find her flat before wandering here to this bench.” I throw my pocketbook over my shoulder and grab one of my cases with my left hand. With my right I remove the paper from my pocket, grasp it in between my lips and grab for the other case with my right. John gets it first.
“I know my way around England pretty well, living here an’ all, I could help you find her pad if you don’t mind.”
I beam. The John Lennon is offering to walk me to Pam’s house! Clearly, my hypothesis was wrong about him and for some reasons my insecurities were practically non-existent around him. He is a great deal more gentlemanly than I had originally though. She’ll be delighted, her favorite Beatle and everything. I better call her and let her know first or else she’ll kill me for not preparing her. I regain composure and begin to search my pockets frantically for the piece of paper. John points to my mouth and I laugh as I hand it to him. He jokingly pretends to wipe off my slobber and reads it.
“Oh, well, her flat’s only a few blocks away from here, we should get there within fifteen minutes, I reckon.”
I take this opportunity to give him a full inspection. He is incredibly good-looking. His jacket is rather flattering, not to mention, his jeans are rather tight. No doubt Pam will notice that. She’d better thank me for this---a phone, Julia, find a phone.
“That’s great,” I say, “But, uh, do you happen to know where I can find a phone, she asked I call her when I get in, and I completely forgot. She’s probably worried half to death by now.” Of course I was lyring, but hey, what was I going to say? “Um, Pam ‘simply adores’ you, I need to warn her, could I please find a phone and call her to let her know that her beloved is going to stand on her steps?"
“Certainly. Follow me.” He leads me to a local pay phone and I smile gratefully as he gives me my privacy. I dial her number from memory and she picks up.
“Julia! Is that you? Are you on your way?”
“I certainly am, but I felt I needed to warn you.”
“Warn me of what? What? Is something wrong?”
“No, far from it, but I should let you know that I bumped into a certain Johnny boy when decided to take a brief rest on park bench and he’s escorting me there,” doing my best to communicate my message without John overhearing it.
“Johnny boy...as in Johnny boy Lennon? Not funny, Julia! You know I simply adore him! How would you like it if said lover boy James Paul McCartney was over here?”
“Pam! Normally I wouldn’t believe you either, but I’m not joking and I felt I should let you know ahead of time so that you could prepare, we’ll be over in fifteen minutes.” Brief silence. “Pam, I wouldn’t lie to you on this, oh come on, if you don’t believe me, you might as well get ready just in case. Hmm? Oh, I’m staying on too long, gotta go. Remember: fifteen minutes. And I warned you!”
I replace the receiver and turn to John. “Ready to go?”
“Indeed,” I reply once again in my best British accent. He smiles as I pick up my luggage and we’re off.
Written by Jane Anderson. May not be reproduced by any means in any form without the permission of the author. Permission may be obtained by e-mail.
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