We enter the room to find Patti and George conversing with Cyn on the couch while Paul and John were quietly mumbling to each other in the corner. Pam and my presence draw the attention of Patti, George, and Cyn.
To my dismay neither Paul nor John bother to look up. Pam catches the unhappiness in my eyes but ignores it and smiles as we join the trio.
Patti grins. “Tonight we were considering going out for dinner. Originally, I had thought I’d make it, but I opted for deserts instead. What would you say to Indian?”
I beam. “Sounds wonderful! I absolutely love Indian food. It’s one of my favorites. Aside from Chinese, Mexican, and plain old pizza, hamburgers and fries!”
“I’m sorry burgers and fries aren’t readily available in England,” Cyn chimes in.
“Well I happen to like fish ‘n' chips myself but it’s good to see Indian have such a positive effect. We weren’t certain whether you would be up for it or not,” George says. Did the turtle soup fiasco leave me with that bad a first impression? Why couldn’t you just keep your mouth shut? Or digestive system, rather.
“I guess it’s settled then. I’ll call for a reservation.” Patti gets up to reach the phone.
“As if you need it,” I laugh.
George smiles. “I must admit it wouldn’t be hard for us to be easily welcomed into any restaurant but we want to make sure to get a secluded table where we’re less likely to be spotted. It’s a new place, after all.”
A few minutes pass and Patti returns. “All set, let’s go.”
John and Paul join the crowd as we make our way to the cars. Pam and I offer our car to any overflow from the Harrison’s, and Paul accepts, but I believe it’s only because he’s not part of a couple and it would seem impolite for him to try and separate John and Cyn just as not to join us.
I watch as he greets us with his autopilot McCartney, smiling, and charming, ready for the press. Pam hands me the car keys. She offering me an escape route and although I’m not extraordinarily familiar with the roads and it’s pitch black outside there’s no way I’m passing it up.
I immediately accept them and sit in the driver seat, Pam to my left, and Paul in the back. We make small talk as I start up the ignition and wait to follow the Harrison’s lead. Luckily, George is good at leading caravans and even waits when we are separated by a red light. Not to mention, the restaurant is nearby and isn’t a difficult destination to find.
We park and enter. Paul makes no movement towards me, not even to hold the restaurant door. Instead, he catches up with John and enters after us. We are quickly brought to a dimly lit corner. Sitar music fills the room and the pungent smell of curry tickles my nose.
I take particular note to the circular seating arrangement. Cyn starts the circle and to her right are seated Patti and George. Pam takes a seat away from George and I sit next to her. That leaves two empty seats for Paul and John, one next to me and one next to George. Both Paul and John give the table a cursory glance. Despite the fact Paul is standing closer to me, he takes the seat next to George and John is seated beside me.
I fix my napkin and place it on my lap in hopes of not showing my hurt. Patti seems to notice Paul’s estranged placement and looks over to Pam who subtly shakes her head.
In the noise of the commotion, John whispers in my ear. “I’m sorry, luv.”
I ignore him as I pick up my menu and look for something appealing.
Patti says, “You know George and I have been considering ordering whatever sounds interesting and just placing it all on the table to try.”
“Yea, so feel free to just tell us what you think looks good and we’ll add it to the list,” George adds.
I grin. That money has to go somewhere; food seems a rather good choice. I notice Pam watching as Paul talks casually to George. I suppose she’s being my eyes, trying to sniff something out.
Hmm…Vegetarian Appetizers…Tandori Chicken…Lamb Tikka Masala…
John places his head over my shoulder. “I’m putting my bet on the Rose ice cream.”
“But that’s dessert,” I say.
“All the better,” he smiles.
“How about starting with the Vegetarian Appetizers first?”
“Hmm, sounds interesting enough.” He pauses then adds with a strange tinge of cynicism, “You know, I do believe the Maccalovi Speciality is not as sour to the taste as you think.”
“What? Where’s that?”
“The Maccalovi Speciality—made of chicken and vegetables…“ he looks up from my menu and over my right shoulder. “It’s between Pam-fried Tandori Lamb and Harrisicken.”
I spend a confused moment staring at him, trying to understand what he is saying, knowing at this point, he’s not talking about Indian food. I look over my shoulder to notice a certain “Macca” between the “Pam-fried Tandori Lamb” and “Harrisicken.”
I look back at the menu to continue his role-play. “Not as sour? Have you tried it before?”
John ponders a moment, “Hmm, I might have tried it less than an hour ago, when you were in the kitchen. It appears to have more of a surprising flavor…as if the unfamiliar taste is the result of an unfriendly spice.”
I absurdity of the discussion makes me laugh. “Unfriendly spice?”
“Yes, an unfriendly spice, one that tenderized the poor chicken to hurt.” I look into John’s eyes. Despite the folly in what he saying, his eyes reveal complete sincerity. “Chickens such as these aren’t used to such spices.”
“So do you think it’s that difficult for a sorry spice to add happier flavor to the chicken?” John smirks and raises an eyebrow. I hit his arm, giggling. “Not like that!”
Our conversation is interrupted by a smiling waiter. “Everyone ready to order?”
George nods, “Feel free to pick whatever you want.”
Everyone around the circle mentions something and it’s my turn to order. I can barely contain my laughter as I express my selection: “Chicken appetizer, please.”
John nudges me and I glare at him with laughter in my eyes. The waiter scribbles down his notes, nods, and walks away.
I turn to see Pam and Paul talking. Jealousy fills my heart. Paul’s laughing…and smiling! Could it be? “Pam—the female version of John—Paul’s new romance”? She would never do that to me no matter how attracted to him she may become. But that wouldn’t stop him from falling head over heels for her. Especially since her personality mirrors his best friend John’s in so many ways.
John tugs my left arm, whispering, “You’re staring.”
I burn a blazon scarlet and immediately turn to him. “Obviously?”
“Possibility if I hadn’t saved you.”
“Thanks…I didn’t realize.”
“You shouldn’t be that insecure over some measly food!”
I laugh. “But it’s a delicious dish that has just been placed with an appetizing side-dish!”
“And what makes you so sure it cares as much for that side-dish?”
I grin. “Because it’s food.”
John rolls his eyes. “There you go again, beatin’ me at me own game.”
The food is delivered soon and I marvel at the incredible number of appetizers ordered. The warm smell of the new dishes floats towards me and I inhale. I can taste the curry and smile. How will I ever have room for the main meal? Everyone takes a bit of everything.
The meal is spectacular. Each course is increasingly better than the first, despite how wonderful the original was. We finish off with desert. I take particular liking to the Rose ice cream.
“Told you,” John says.
“You were right, it’s great.”
Time speeds by and soon enough the party is exiting to the cars. Pam and I thank Patti and George for the fabulous night. I catch up briefly to John right before meeting with Pam at the car.
“Seriously John, do you think I’ll have difficulty getting the chicken to be a bit more appealing to my pallet?”
“You don’t have much to worry about. Keep being yourself and the dish won’t even need an aphrodisiac.”
I laugh. “Alright, alright. Thanks for the advice.”
“Better hurry luv, the chicken and side-dish are beginning to get cold in the Volkswagen Tupperware.”
I run to the car and get in. Pam had already taken the driver’s seat, leaving me vulnerable to Paul. Just be yourself. I look out the window.
“Beautiful night, isn’t it?”
“Certainly is.” Autopilot McCartney again.
“I just love a crescent moon surrounded by beautiful shining stars,” I continue.
“Yea, it’s certainly a night for a romantic,” he says.
I almost turn to see his expression but stop myself and continue to gaze out the window. Pam puts on the radio. The song “Help!” fills the car, sending a chill up my spine. ‘Cute Beatle Paul’ is sitting less than three feet behind me in this car. He could sing this himself. But he’s more than ‘Cute Beatle Paul’—much more—he’s—well, the Maccalovi Speciality.
Recalling all the times Pam and I sang to Beatles records over the phone, I sigh. This can get creepy.
We drop off Paul who cordially thanks us and waves us off. As we leave through the gate Pam turns of the radio. “There’s no doubt you’ve confused him.”
“Yea, I know. I was talking to John.”
“All that’s really left to do is see how long it takes him to call.”
“How long? You’re expecting he will. What if he doesn’t?”
“Believe me, Julia. He’ll call.”
The next morning I awake to a ringing phone. I jump up and run to find Pam has already picked up. It turns out to be a wrong number. She sighs and shrugs. “What can you do?”
The rest of the day remains somewhat uneventful. Pam and I spent the day once again playing board games. I finally win Monopoly! We do some much needed laundry at a nearby Laundromat and afterward go out and to watch a new, highly publicized movie. Neither of us cares for it too much but are glad to have a day out together.
We go to bed rather early and I once again wake up to the sound of a ringing phone the next day. Pam covers the receiver saying, “It’s Peter,” as she passes it to me. I sigh, No Paul yet.
“Hello Peter,” I find myself trying too hard to sound excited, and decide to tone it down a bit.
“It’s great to hear you voice, luv. Look, I was hoping I could see you today. Pam seems to be feeling better, from what I’ve heard, that is. I could pick you up, say, maybe twelve today? We could spend the day out.”
“Oh, I’d love that.” Hey, gorgeous, intelligent guy who really likes me. Why not?
“Gear. I’ll see you then.”
I hang up and turn to Pam. “Day on the town with Peter.”
Pam sighs. “Well, at least he isn’t moody like Paul.”
“I know, but I was so hoping…”
“Yes, so was I…You should have seen me rush to the phone.”
“He didn’t then?”
“Call you mean? No, Paul hasn’t called this morning.”
I nod meekly.
Pam reaches out to me. “Oh Julia, I’m sure he will, besides you already have a date with a wonderful blonde-haired, blue-eyed charmer who really must like you to consistently call you the way he has. What time is he picking you up?”
“It’s eleven now. Want breakfast?”
“No, I’m not that hungry, maybe just a glass of orange juice.”
“Well, you certainly can’t tell that to Peter when he takes you out to eat.”
“Yea, I know. Hopefully I’ll be hungry by then.”
We sit down to talk. She fills my glass. “Pam, I know we haven’t discussed this since I got here. But how are things with Sue?”
Ken and Sue are her parents. When Pam was little they went through a messy divorce and ever since her relations with her mother have been poor. Her father has since died.
Pam is clearly surprised by the suddenness of my question but just looks down at the table. “Well, we certainly haven’t had any reconciliation if that’s what you mean.” She looks up at me, eyes filling with anger. “She’s been such a witch. She wouldn’t go to Ken’s funeral and finds something wrong with every guy I get serious with. I had sent her a card for Mother’s day just to be big about it. You know, some corny card with a picture of two raisins holding hands and a message on it like, ‘Thanks for raisin me.’”
I hadn’t been able to attend her father’s funeral because it was on the same day as Finals Junior year in college. Instead, I had sent her a long-winded condolence card and spent hours with her on the phone. She still can’t seem to get over her mother’s absence. Supposedly Sue had already made plans to be on some cruise with some new boyfriend. Pam’s mother had even refused to fund her time in college.
“When was the last time you spoke on the phone?”
“I can’t even remember.”
“Maybe you should try. You know, just see how she is. I know she’s been a tyrant to you, but neither of you are getting any younger. It would be nice if you two were at least on speaking terms.”
Pam examines her nails. “She probably on some damn cruise with some bloody playboy.”
“Maybe you’re right. But she is still your mother. She did spent thirty-three hours dedicated to giving birth to you.”
“That’s probably the only time she spent dedicated to me.”
I sigh. “I should get dressed.”
Pam glances up. “Look, I don’t to want to sound mean to you. You know how upset she gets me and I just can’t stand it. I don’t like being mad. Especially not while you’re here. It would be horrible for me to fall into some mood for the rest of your stay. I think for now it’s better if we just let it be.”
I nod and walk out. ‘For the rest of your stay.’ I forget how limited my time here is. I barely have two weeks left. Two weeks left for a fling with Beatle Paul. Two weeks left to spend with my all-time best friend. Two weeks left for me to spend time with my new friend John.
I quickly wash up and throw on a long, flowing, casual navy dress. I put a lavender sweater to cover my arms, fix my make up, grab my pocket book and return to the kitchen.
“Entrancing” is the first word out of Pam’s mouth. I smile and the door bell rings. I say goodbye to Pam and answer the door.
Peter. His beautiful blond hair is brushed and parted perfectly to his ears. Blue eyes sparkling. Rosy cheeks from the cold. Dark suede pea coat, navy blue sweater, and tight blue jeans. He definitely fits his title: “young, vibrant, 60’s graduate school student.”
“You look fabulous,” Peter smiles.
I beam. “Thank you.” I close the door and he pecks me on the cheek. He puts his arm around me as we walk to the car.
“I was thinking we could sightsee London and go out to eat.”
“What would you say to visiting Madame Tussaud’s first?”
“I’ve always wanted to visit a wax museum.”
We drive the famed museum and park a block away. He opens the car door for me and keeps me warm the whole walk there.
“I’m sorry Pam was so sick the other day. What was the matter?”
“Oh, uh sore throat, fever, dizziness.”
“She sounded much better on the phone. She did cough a bit, though.”
Must have automatically feigned sickness at Peter’s name. “Yea, her fever luckily died down but now she’s pretty congested.”
“No one picked up when I called that night.”
“We fell asleep pretty early. We were both exhausted.”
“I see,” he says as we reach the museum’s line. We eventually make it to the ticket stand and pay. He pays for my ticket and we enter.
We roam through crowded room after crowded room staring at wax sculptures. In the process I bump into a shoulder I believe to be a woman but am startled to discover is made of wax and quickly move back into Peter as it steadies. He snickers at me.
“Something like that would happen to you, wouldn’t it?” He places his arms around me.
I blush. “Now what does that mean?”
“You always find away to fall in my arms.”
I smile, pulling away. “You always find away to catch me.”
Eventually we are packed into a room filled with squealing teenage girls.
“It’s a fairly recent addition,” Peter says. “The waxing Beatles.”
“So I suppose they’re not on the wane?” I joke. Peter smirks. I strain to hear him over the mass insanity of crazed girls jumping to kiss the figures and get their pictures taken. I get a brief glance at the statue of Paul and can’t help but smile a bit. It may not be him exactly but I must say it’s rather well done.
“Of course,” Peter continues. “You can fawn over them at home so we need not do it here, too.”
I turn to see Peter’s expression but before my eyes make my way to his face I’m jabbed in the stomach by the elbow of another hysterical fan. Wow, fans get this crazed over a lump of wax, and I didn’t let the flesh kiss me.
After about another hour or so of wax gazing we’re both hungry and exit. We drive to a nearby diner and are seated. He buys me a chocolate malted, fries, and the diner’s rare attempt at a hamburger. Peter orders the same. He must have done a lot of research to find such a place.
“I figured you might be missing American burgers.”
“That was really sweet of you.”
Peter takes my hand and kisses it. I stare into his blue eyes. “Not nearly as sweet as you, luv,” he says. I gush. But my mind stops me. Hello! Julia! Wake up! Romantic, yes. Sincere? Who knows? That moment was too sudden and too perfect to be real…
Our lunches come. I try the hamburger. Okay, this does not taste like a hamburger but there is no way I can let him know that. I smile and take a second bite.
“Good?” he asks.
“Oh, Mmm, yea, it’s great.”
He smiles. “I’m glad you like it.”
The fries and malted are better and I focus more on them. We don’t talk much as we eat and are soon out to walk through the streets. We window shop as he keeps his arm around me. For some reason I find myself looking down the street for John and Paul, even though I know there is no way they’d be out.
Peter brings me into a jewelry store. He notices a beautiful necklace with a gold chain and small opal pendent and asks the salesperson to remove it from the case. The salesperson does so, and hands it to Peter who then places it around my neck. It matches my outfit perfectly and looks gorgeous.
“Peter, it’s a wonderful thought. But really, Peter—”
He ignores me, smiling. “Stunning, just like you. I’ll get it. Miss, I would like to buy this necklace.”
I pretend to look away as he pays for it. I casually glance over as he hands the saleswoman his money. 40 pounds…let’s see…that’s about 80 dollars. 80 dollars? On our first date? Wow.
I smile as we exit the store. He opens the jewelry box and puts the necklace on me. He hands me the box and I put it into my bag. “Thank you, Peter.” I give him a peck on the cheek and he holds my hand as we continue to walk down the street.
The sky begins to darken and turn cold as we reach Redlees Park. Suddenly, Peter stops walking, pulls me to him and stares into my eyes. I look up into his. Paul has deep brown eyes that grab me; Peter’s are just pretty to look at. He brushes the hair off my forehead and I close my eyes. He kisses me. I wonder if Paul would have kissed me like this.
“You’re beautiful, Julia. You’re the most beautiful girl I’ve ever met. I love being with you.”
I begin to feel guilty. I’m not in love with Peter. He’s fun to be with, generous, romantic, and sweet. But, I’m not crazy over him. He’s telling me how much he likes me and I’m thinking of Paul. I’m remembering Paul’s eyes. I’m longing for Paul’s kiss. Peter’s buying me gifts and spending money on me left and right. This is unfair.
“Peter, I can’t accept this.” I begin to take off the necklace but catches my hands in his.
“Because…Because I just can’t. This is only our first date and I don’t deserve this.”
“Oh luv, yes you do. You deserve this and more.” He brushes my cheek with his right hand. “Don’t worry, you don’t have to feel the way I do. I love you. I’ve loved you since I first danced with you in the club. But I’ll understand if you don’t love me back. I’ll understand if you don’t feel you know me well enough yet.”
“Shh. Julia, luv, you’re a darling. We’re having a great time, don’t change that.”
With that I am silent. He put his arms around me and we begin to walk back to the car.
“There’s still dinner you know,” Peter says.
We drive to a Chinese restaurant. We have a delicious dinner and I find Peter to have a truly wicked sense of humor. I have a wonderful time and he drives me home. On the doorstep he kisses me with such fervor as to physically ask for me to invite him inside. I refuse. I thank him and go back in to find John and Paul seated on Pam’s couch. Pam talking to them in the facing chair.
Good thing I didn’t invite Peter in. “Oh hello.”
They all look up, surprised. Pam stands and faces me. “Welcome Julia, I didn’t expect you back so early. John and Paul had dropped by and decided to stay a bit. I told them you were out and would be back eventually.” Uninhibited, Pam asks me, “Julia, is that necklace new? I don’t remember you wearing it before…” She soon realizes her mistake but it’s too late to try to fix it.
I casually put down my purse as John and Paul make space between them on the couch, all attention on the necklace. “Oh, well I suppose it’s fairly new,” I say.
“Peter?” John asks. I am startled by his candidness but decide the best answer is an honest one.
“Yes, he bought it for me this afternoon.”
There is an awkward silence about the room. Pam glances at me apologetically.
“Would anyone like anything to drink?” I offer.
Paul, knowing I don’t drink, says, “Pepsi.”
John looks surprised at Paul yet shrugs and says the same. Pam says, “No thank you.”
I walk into the kitchen, relieved to be rid of the coldness of the living room. I pour two glasses of Pepsi and carry them in. Thankfully, by the time I have returned Pam has restored the room to its original liveliness and I sit back down on the couch.
“Paul was just telling us about a picture you had drawn that day at Decca Studios…would you happen to have it with you?” John asks.
I gulp. Oh no…anything but that. Pam smiles. She’s laughing inside, she knows what he’s talking about. “Oh, uh, that one…”
I grab for my purse and take out my notebook. I slowly flip to that page. “Here…this one you mean?”
Pam looks and I can see as her eyes almost pop out of her head as she covers her mouth so as not to laugh. She casually excuses herself to the bathroom.
“Yea, that’s the like,” Paul says, smiling. “I think it has beautiful likeness to a woman, don’t you think John?”
John takes one look at it and smirks. He looks in my eyes and I can see he’s guessed it. I decide to nonchalantly explain what had happened to John without outright letting Paul in on the whole situation.
“You see, John, I had this sudden inspiration, and, well, I started drawing, I didn’t realize where I was going with it…and you see, well, just as I had completed the eyebrows, eyes, and such, Paul came right over my shoulder and so I finished it while he watched.”
John gets my message in its entirety and Paul smiles, recalling the situation. “Yeah, at first I saw the top part, thinking it looked somewhat familiar, you know? But now that it’s finished, I don’t think I could recognize who is it at all. Though I must say it’s very well drawn.”
“Oh yes—" John says, doing his best to not humiliate me. “I must say it is incredibly well drawn. And it’s funny; I feel the same sense for familiarity in the eyes and eyebrows as well. Amazing.” He quickly closes the book. “But, well I do believe further pondering might destroy the mystery and then, well,” he laughs, “there’d be no more mystery. How bout you put it away, luv?”
I smile. “Good idea.”
Pam returns fully composed and reclines in her chair. “How did recording go today?” she asks.
“Well me and John spent the day working on the lyrics to some songs. But yesterday we were recording past midnight.”
John sighs. “Yea, that was a first, but I must say we got a lot done.”
“I would imagine so,” I say.
“Which does, however, mean that we have some fun to make up for. Let’s go out dancing!” John says.
“Dancing?” I ask. This will certainly test Pam’s limits.
Paul looks equally surprised but willing, as does Pam.
“Oh come on, it’d be keen!” He abruptly stands up and begins to walk out of the room. “Come ‘ead!”
I look over at Pam. She shrugs as we follow John. We pile into the car, Pam driving, John beside her to administer directions and Paul and me in the back seat. As Pam starts the car I notice how clearly uncomfortable Paul is. He turns briefly to look at me, catching my eyes, but quickly faces the window.
I spend the rest of the ride watching as John directs Pam to the club. There’s no doubt there’s a strong attraction between the two of them, hopefully Pam is strong enough to resist.
Paul holds the door as we walk into the club but manages to keep a twelve-inch distance at all times. As I glance around the room I am immediately brought to the conclusion that my dress is much too long, of course, at this point it’s a useless cause.
John starts dancing with Pam and soon Paul and I follow suit. Paul is smiling adorably and winks at me as the song picks up pace.
As the night progresses, a slow song begins and Paul pulls me close. Feeling daring, I place my head on his shoulder and beam as he pulls his arms around me. I can smell the scent of his cologne mixed with smoke and for some reason I find myself strangely attracted to it. If I’m dreaming, I don’t ever want to wake up. I love the way our bodies fit so well together—it’s as if we were made for each other.
I look up to see Pam and John kissing. Well, this is a definite regression…though, I must admit, I wouldn’t mind if Paul were kissing me as well.
Much too soon, the song ends and the four of us decide it’s time to return home. Pam pulls out, and obviously distracted, bumps into the car with steamed up windows parked behind us.
“Bugger, no doubt this bloke’s gonna be pissed,” John says.
I cringe. Always something to ruin a perfect night.
Written by Jane Anderson. 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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