The Case for Cargo Pants ~ 09/2008
I’d been complaining about neck and shoulder pain for so long, a friend finally convinced me to go with her to her next chiropractic appointment. She actually had to drag me, as the word “adjustment,” just has too many overtones for me. While she was getting her you-know-what, and begging the doctor to examine me right after her you-know-what, she left me in the waiting room trying to distract myself my reading outdated hunting and fishing magazines.
She won, she introduced me, and then she left me. The first thing the chiropractor asked me to do wasn’t to step up on the scale, but to put my purse on it. And, after a few minutes of fine-tuning those moveable weights, we discovered why I was listing to the left – my purse weighed in at a metric ton – or almost ten pounds.
I flatly refused to have a you-know-what on the first appointment, like way to first date intimate, so I was sent home with a few pages of exercises and a sporting goods catalog I’d forgotten I’d stuffed in my purse out of habit. Flipping through the catalog over dinner, my eyes landed on an intriguing piece of cothing right between the camo toilet paper and the plaid flannel, long johns – Cargo Pants !
Cargo pants; pants with pockets, a million of them; pockets running down the outside side of the each leg, right along side the flat pockets on the front of the legs; pockets on the backside, with more cargo pockets on top of regular ol’ flat pockets. Cargo pants may be just the answer to fixing the hitch in my giddy-up.
I can get them with six or seven pockets: with or without a knife pocket, or the pocket for your magazine bullet holder. That they say, serendipitously, can also be used to hold your cell phone; making it convenient, I guess, to call home from the shooting range.
All the cargo pockets have pleats to make them expandable so you can stuff them to your hearts content. Hook & loop closures secure all the flaps on the cargo pockets, locking down your goodies, so you don’t lose anything when climbing Mt. Everest, or bending over to pick up the chap stick that slipped out while your pants were down past your knees, while you were hovering over the toilet seat.
I choose the cargo pants with the seven pockets. I didn’t get the cargo pants with that ingenious zipper that allows you to dissect them: zipping off around the thighs, morphing cargo pants into cargo shorts. I’ve seen those shorts and it looks like the pockets hang down lower then the zipped off hem, with all your stuff banging away at your kneecaps. This is especially gross on men, often requiring a second look-see.
When the sporting goods package arrived at work, the receptionist asked if I was going hunting, I said no, making sure my smirk was as big as hers. To save myself any further embarrassment, I squished the package in my purse – what’s a half pound more.
At home that night, after dinner, I had to figure out the weight distribution – balancing what to put where, so that I’m listing a little less to the left and a little more to the right.
My cell phone did fit perfectly in the right front flat ammo pocket, so I’ll leave it there for now. After all, sometimes cell phones could be confused for ammunition.
I’m not sure if I want to keep my PDA and its collapsible keyboard in the left side cargo pocket or the right side cargo pocket. My brand new digital camera deserves a pocket of its own, and since I’m right handed, it has to go in the right side cargo pocket, so I can whip it out in a split second, providing that hook & loop closure doesn’t get in the way.
OK, then that means the PDA stuff goes into the left side cargo pocket, and my make-up bag, slips into the right front cargo pocket, on the right, next to my phone in the ammo flat plocket.
What can I put in the back pockets – remember, I have to be able to sit down. A pack of tissues maybe – the latest paperback best seller – it’s not squishable, but it’ll give you a little extra cushion if your butt needs it. Luckily, I don’t have that problem - ha – liar, liar, these pants might just catch on fire.
Looking in the mirror after all that stuffing, packing and unpacking, then ripping the hook & loops apart again and again, (God forbid they say the “Velcro” trademark name), I’m crushed; these things suck. They make my hips look they’ve fallen down a foot or so, right into the middle of my thighs, which suddenly resemble lumpy, bumpy, sacks of potatoes, apples, and/or onions - and talk about your cellulite. Oh, wait, here’s another use for those pockets – using them for grocery shopping, instead of those little plastic baskets.
My keys, I almost forgot my key chain. Actually, I have three keys chains attached to one of those faux mountain climber carabineers. I’ve got a very old World’s Best Mom webbed leash type that holds my house keys; a tiny flashlight on a chain, that holds my cars keys; and a split ring that holds all my discount and membership cards – with everything attached to the carabineer. Well, my keys will have to into the left front cargo pocket. That leaves the left flat pocket for my chap-stick.
As for how cargo pants look – no matter what they look like on the first day – they’re going to end up looking baggy – seriously, hugely, elephantine baggy. Hanging over your shoes, the muck they entrap will audibly clump on the tundra; the edges are frayed, holey, stringy, and caked filthy with buffalo dung.
But, the end result is that I now have room to carry more stuff in my purse.
The Garbage Hugger 9/2008
A few years ago, everyone in the neighborhood received notices that the garbage collection service was changing. A month later, everyone received an envelope containing a prepaid post card with dates and times on it. We had to choose a time to schedule delivery of our new trash container, ’cause someone had to be home to sign for it.
A few weeks later, a flatbed truck arrived piled high with trash bins, and went around delivering containers. Every trash container was numbered and by signing for delivery, each resident became the registered owner.
Taped to the outside of the container, was a neon-green paper listing the do & don’t rules – do this or we don’t pick up your trash. Under the notice, were the rules embossed into the plastic lid. Next to the embossed rules, was a white decal with the rules listed in Spanish & English - ’nuff already.
The container itself is almost five feet high; at least two feet square, and has two over-sized plastic wheels on the back side, for a little leverage when rolling it to the curb. The rules stated that everything in the container must be in securely closed bags, and you can’t put any more then 250 lbs or 96 gallons in the bin. I don’t think I’ve ever had 96 gallons of anything at one time – so I’m good.
Garbage pick-up is on Wednesdays and the container has to be at the curb by 7 a.m., with the lid opening toward the curb. The container itself must be at least five feet from any object – that’s like an island in the middle of the ocean in the Bronx. There were more rules, but what the heck; at least I’m not the one picking up the trash. And every year, just before Thanksgiving, I get a calendar from the garbage company, along with another neon-green sheet of rules.
One Wednesday evening I came home from work and my trash container wasn’t at the curb – it had disappeared – gone with the wind. Oh well, I figured I’d just call the trash company and get another. The next day when I called, they told me that to get another container I had to file a police report for stolen property – here’s your container number and please call back with the police case number.
You have got to be kidding, I said. No, it’s just routine, they said. I called the police and was embarrassed and apologetic at wasting a cop’s time about a missing trash bin. They didn’t seem perturbed either - here’s your complaint number.
I called the trash company back and when I got home that night, there was a brand new container waiting for me – with that taped neon-green sheet of rules and another prepaid post card to sign and return for a new registration and to resume my trash collection. I did and everything went along fine for a while, until I decided, about 3 years into this service, to take a Wednesday off work.
I would lose some vacation time if I didn’t use it, so I figured splitting up the days in the middle of the week would be nice. Besides, I needed a break to relax and do nothing. One of the nothings I did have to do was put out the trash by 7 a.m.
Around 11 a.m., I heard the faint sound of a truck stopping and going, stopping and going. I was thrilled, after years of following those neon-greens rules, I was finally going to see how helpful I’d been to the garbage men. Waiting outside, I didn’t hear any voices, no talking at all. I could hear something that sounded motorized, like a low hum, a shifting gears, then a high whine, followed by a grinding noise – but no chit-chatting, no containers thumping on the streets, no other sounds but those motorized ones.
On garbage day we have alternate street parking, and when I looked down the block, I saw a big white truck pulling up, stopping in the street a few feet away from the curb, with the cab being a little past the trash container. It took a few seconds for my brain to register what I was seeing – I was stunned – I could not believe my eyes.
It was an immaculately clean white truck – that was part of the shock – every garbage truck I’d seen was gray – a definite dirty gray, dripping, oozing gray. Attached to the truck’s passenger side, nearest the curb, right behind the cab, was a bright red vertical metal bar.
With a hum, two mechanical arms seem to fall from that bar, toward the curb, then unfolded and opened wide to lay flat against the side of the truck. Still humming along, the bar and its outstretched arms, slowly and precisely, angled out toward the trash container on the sidewalk – then suddenly the arms snapped shut around the middle of the bin, hugging it tight!
With the arms hugging the container, they retracked slowly to the bar on the truck, and with a grinding whine, the container rose up along the vertical bar until it slowly arced over the open trailer – and hung there for a second or two.
The astonishing part of this was that as the container rose higher and higher in that smooth sweeping arc, it began it tilt downward just as smoothly toward the truck’s open cargo area.
Finally, just before I thought the container was going to fall top first into the truck’s cargo area, the lid opened and the trash spilled out – a marvel.
Since everything in the trash container was in nice, neat closed-tight bags that’s what fell out – plop, plop, plop – three bags full!
I watched this phenomena again and again, walking up the sidewalk to the tune of the humming – truck, container, bar, arms, hug, arc, open and dump! There was only a driver working levers and buttons, and he never left the cab. Every trash container spilled out closed bags and everything plopped right into the truck’s cargo area nice and neat. Sometimes the rules work – and this year, the garbage man will be getting less of a tip.
Calling All Cars 10/2008
Best memory of a cell phone encounter ~
I was standing in the drop-off-your-prescriptions-here line behind a young man on the phone, less then a foot in front of me. I heard him say, “No – I think we should stop seeing each other.” Jeez – I cringed.
He said it again and I cringed again. Then he said, “I just don’t think we’re right for each other, sorry.”
I cudda’ died and I did back up.
His conversation got worse. He began listing his faults, asking her to please stop crying, but when he got to, “I’m not worth it” a woman in the prescription pick-up line, (about 10 feet away from my line), who could hear this and had been catching my eye on and off during this conversation, and myself, moved toward him almost simultaneously, completely unscripted, and shouted into that phone – “He’s not – he’s breaking up with you in a drug store!”
A few folks on both lines applauded and the fellow hurried away without dropping off anything but his pride.
If talking on cell phones while driving is illegal in some states, talking while in a store, mall, parking lot, or anywhere else in public should be too!
Leaving the post office the other day, I noticed a piece of white, legal size paper between my car and another. Since it looked like of copy of a deed, I picked it up. Through black glass windows, I could just make out a man talking on the phone in the adjacent car and I tried to get his attention.
I tapped on the window, and holding up the paper, mouthed: “Yours?”
Well, he’s busy – on the phone. So I waited a few seconds and tapped again. He waved but I wasn’t sure he noticed the paper. I waited a little longer then tapped again. This time he waved but only with one finger.
Me – just being neighborly, for cryin’ out loud.
He – talking on a phone, in a car, in a public parking lot.
Well, I balled up that paper, threw it down where I found it, got in my car, backed out, and took off quicker than a New York minute. I certainly don’t have to take that from a stranger and a stranger on a phone, to boot!
That’s what really ticked me off – talking on a phone in a car!
As far as I’m concerned, phone courtesy died when Ma Bell did.
At one time, phones were a luxury, using one was a privilege that everyone, caller and call-ee, respected and acknowledged; I had to ask permission from my mom and dad to use the phone – the one and only phone in the house – attached to the wall!
Now, with independent phone companies in a different kiosk in every mall, they’ve not only given us variety, they’ve given each caller control – in a car or a checkout line. “Since I own it – I can use it,” seems to be the credo of most phone users today.
Cellulars, mobiles, portables, flip, photo, web-cam, email, internet, or blue tooth-in-your-ear phones – jeez, I just threw out my baby-blue “Princess.”
My home phone rings from early morning ’til late evening with calls wanting me to buy, give, or donate something to people who think they’re my friends because they have my number.
I didn’t give my number to them – they bought it. That’s not respect, that’s invasion of privacy! Being respectful on a cell phone also means never hearing the flushing.
Just on GP/general principles, the idea of a phone in my car, in my pocket, in my purse, or in my face -annoys me. I don’t want to be reachable every minute of the day. When I’m driving, I try to concentrate on the road, as every other driver should.
My own cell phone is so unattached to anything; I never know where it is. I know where it’s supposed to be, but finding it is another story. And it’s constantly at home on the kitchen counter, after I’ve recharged it.
As I pulled away from the post office, the last thing I saw in my rear view mirror, was Mr. Mover and Shaker, standing by his car, smoothing out that wrinkled piece of paper. He probably has a cigarette-lighter portable plug-in FAX machine in the back seat – ugh !
The Christmas Letter ~ 12/2008
Hi folks ~ Just to stay in touch and bring you up-to-date with what’s been happening at our house.
After almost ten years with the mortgage company, Dan was unexpectedly demoted, and in a very, and I do mean very, generous plea agreement, Dan has agreed to perform janitorial services for the next five to ten years in situ.
Everyone agrees it’s the best outcome – after all, maintenance staff is always revered in any company. Since all the liens and suits are settled, we’re really thrilled Dan has this opportunity for restitution and the Fed’s have promised, that after this penalty phase, we’ll have plenty to live on.
In the meantime, the county club Board of Trustees is graciously allowing us to rent the caretaker’s RV up at Lake Comengetit. This time of year it’s peaceful, and they’ve assured us, that as long as we keep the plywood on the door and windows, the bears, coyotes, and other wildlife are really quite friendly.
Unfortunately, Kenneth wasn’t doing as well as we hoped in his first year at U of Z, so he’s back home now attending the local vo-tech. Kenny’s even been able to fit in a job as a “vacuumer” at the all-night car wash. Being home actually makes it easier for him spend more time with Little Mary Sunshine, his pregnant girlfriend. Although, during this winter solstice season, their political and cultural differences are beginning to surface with just a teensy-weensy bit of tension.
On a good note, Daphne is again repeating her junior year at DeBunk High, but this time, she’s carrying a lighter load, which includes jewelry assembly. I’m sure she’ll breeze through – she just loves that bling! And more good news – Daffy’s ankle monitor comes off in the spring, and her license should be reactivated just in time for summer vacation, so she can get back to spending quality time with her same old friends.
Sadly, Uncle Bud, (from the Light side of the family), passed away this year. His drinking got the best of him when he decided to install his Dish TV himself directly to the electric pole behind his house. Service was out for a few hours but the electric company finally relented to permitting Aunt Dee to make monthly payments.
As for me, I ‘ve had to cut back on my mani’s & pedi’s - but to fill that gap, I’ve decided to go back and get that degree I started all those years ago in Home Economics. I actually think it’s karma – the maintenance staff always told Dan how they loved getting my individually wrapped Cheapskate’s Meat Loaf as New Year gifts, particularly since I attached the recipe card highlighting the economical advantages of using all those holiday leftovers.
Happy Holidays, love to all, and to all a – well, you know.
Dog vs. Chicken ~ 02/2009
Almost every week I buy a grocery store roast chicken; the kind that’s been going round and round for hours in one of those big, display-case-like, glass ovens.
The work is done for me and it’s tasty – so there.
This week when I came home from the store and put my grocery bags down, Dutch made a beeline for that roast chicken. I had it balancing on top of a few boxes of cereal, just peeking over the edge of the paper bag, waiting to be the first item out of the bag – well, it was.
Dutch sunk her teeth in and scrambled down the hall, taking my dinner, and the hallway runner, with her.
I was so startled; I jumped back and tripped over Kitty. I caught myself going down, and yelping at Kitty and yelling at Dutch, made my way into the hall, where she was looking back at me, plastic encased chicken clutched firmly in her maw.
I’m still yelling, “Drop that chicken,” Kitty is purring-up my ankles, and Dutch isn’t moving, when I realized that Dutch’s jaws and the chicken are moving in synchronization.
Then it hit me – it may not have started out this way but the chicken was stuck!
Ever since I had one of those plastic clam-shell cases pop open and leak chicken grease all over a bag of groceries, I’ve had the deli-counter clerk over wrap that container with heat-sealed plastic wrap, just in case.
But now, Dutch’s teeth were caught in the wrappings, and my 75-pound black Lab couldn’t get that self-clinging plastic wrapped dangling chicken unstuck from her incisors.
Wadda’ hoot – we’re trying not to laugh, but Kitty and I were now watching Dutch use one paw, then both, in a fruitless attempt to pry the plastic chicken case off her teeth and outta’ her mouth.
Finally, after getting ourselves under control, and I’m sure I heard Kitty snort at least once, we moved toward Dutch, as she sat up and sheepishly presented me with her plunder.
I moved in for the kill and found myself looking into her big, black, and embarrassed pitiful eyes. Kitty even purred in support – or pity maybe.
Oh, how humiliating – the chicken had won.
As I sympathetically tore, split, and peeled away the clingy-wrap from Dutch’s teeth and mouth, that DAMN plastic clam-shell case sprang open, deliberately pouring its load of grease and goo though my fingers onto the hallway runner, while I somehow managed to ensnare the flying chicken between my knees and away from nosey Kitty.
Later, long after the clean up, Dutch and Kitty were still licking the carpet, as I was enjoying my roasted chicken and two glasses of white wine dinner.
So there - Kate
Sometimes a cigar is more than … 03/2009
Tonight, after dinner, I went out on the back porch and lit up a cigar.
It’s a gorgeous night, balmy with a little breeze. I sat in the dark, no light on, just breathing, listening to the rustle of trees, the hum of the odd car. With my Lab, Dutch, by my side sniffing the air, I blithely watched the end of the cigar flare up in the shadows.
After a while, I knocked the ash off my Macanudo Portofino, let it die, then put the rest back in the tube to save for another day.
I remember the first time I smoked a cigar. I was 18, at a party, when an older boy, at least 20, offered me one. I was ripe for the pickin’ and thought I was the hottest thing since – well – Tiparillo’s.
Remember Tiparillo’s – they were back in the ’60′s, I had just graduated high school: an all-girls Catholic high school, in the Bronx. We wore green uniforms and I rolled my skirt.
That first summer after graduation, I started lighting up, never at home, but at parties, bars, and on street corners under the streetlight with friends. They had Marlboro’s, Winston’s, and a Camel or two, but my smoke of choice was a Tip – a Tiparillo.
There was an ad campaign, something about, “Should a gentleman offer a lady a Tiparillo?” The point being, that Tiparillo’s were almost cigars, and since few women smoked cigars, this was one you could smoke and still be a lady.
Almost cigars was actually way off the mark – Tiparillo’s were kinda’ like a bigger, longer cigarette, without the white paper, but with a tobacco wrapper and a plastic mouthpiece.
They came maybe five in a pack and tasted more like the smoke of a cigarette, then a cigarette itself, and not anywhere near as strong as a real cigar, or even as strong as my mother’s Pall Mall’s. I probably went through a pack or two a year before I stopped smoking all together when I married at 23.
The ads didn’t merely sell Tiparillo’s; they sold sex. Under a photo of a topless, bespectacled, big-breasted woman, with a ledger book decorously placed, was the slogan, “Should a gentleman offer an accountant a Tiparillo?” How risqué was that !
My bra size was 32A, I needed my glasses for walking, talking, and breathing, couldn’t balance the books to save my soul, but that Tiparillo made me Fab.
A few years ago, after almost 30 years of not smoking, I celebrated my 50th and lit up cigar. Maybe it was the lightheadedness the smoke caused or the flood of memories that made me high – but the contentment immediately returned. And, like a Tip, I only want one or two a year.
Chocolate is my addiction, cigars are my caprice: the slow prep, the waving flame, the intake not the inhale of breath, the aroma, the anxiety of a bite, then the tranquility when it doesn’t come, never fails to soothe me.
Tonight’s cigar had me envisioning that hot teenager of 40 years ago, and bending over to pet Dutch, those boobs are still 32. Yep – 32 inches from tip-to-floor.
BEATLES ~ Tribute ~ Dec / 2010
Sentimentality be damned. This has been in my head for years, and maybe because their names have been in the news recently, it’s time. Although some names have been changed, if memory serves, the events related here are true.
Catholic high school girls didn’t cut classes in the ‘60’s, so I never made it to JFK or The Plaza, but the day you landed, I knew who you were. For a week before you arrived in New York, on that cold Friday in February 1964, Murray the K, a local DJ, had been playing your music and pre-recorded interviews incessantly. It drove my mom crazy but I loved you and your music. By the end of that week, America knew about you, your music, your families, your lives.
John was the “Sorry girls, he’s married” one. He and Cynthia even had a son, Julian, and suddenly I thought Julian was a fab name. Paul, the “cute,” one, wasn’t married and lived with his widowed father. George was the “quiet” one, and Louise, his married sister, was living here in the States. About Ringo, he of the “four rings,” we knew his real name was Richard, he was the newest member of the group, and everyone agreed he just wasn’t as cute as the others were. We instantly became fascinated with the geography of England because you were “Liverpuddlians.” The rest of your story is what legends are made of: although you’d each been in different bands, you hadn’t been playing together very long, and through some quirk of fate, you coalesced into a winning combination, and now you were about to hit the big time – the Big Apple.
For the next two days, New York City and the rest of the world saw and heard your every word, your every move, and very often you were “cheeky.” When asked what you called your long haircuts, (when boys were snipping their ducktails and girls were teasing and spraying their beehives), Ringo answered flippantly, “Arthur.” Cheeky, along with gear, fab, fav, jelly babies, Mersey, mods, and rockers were words we quickly incorporated into our everyday speech. We thought we were so gear.
Everything you did that weekend, from sightseeing in Central Park to television dress rehearsals, was considered a major news event, and reported on every channel of the evening news and in the newspapers – even the esteemed New York Times acknowledged that you were news that was fit to print.
That Sunday night, February 9, 1964, over 73 million Americans, including my three best friends and me, watched you on the Ed Sullivan Show from my living room. We bounced, squealed, kissed the screen at you and your mop-top haircuts, not on cute little boys like our John-John, but on clean-cut young men in suits, whose jackets happen not to have collars. My mom watched too and although she pooh-poohed you, she didn’t think you were too bad, “not like that gyrating Elvis anyway.” Besides, she’d been a screaming “bobby-soxer,” for “Frankie” at the Paramount Theatre twenty-five years earlier.
Mom surprised us that night by giving us tickets to the Carnegie Hall concert for later that week, as she had arranged it earlier with the other parents; Mary’s dad had to take us and Janie’s dad had to pick us up. Since Susan and I were joined at the hip and cohorts in crime, all we had to do was stay out of trouble and not get detention for the next few days. We were amazed as mom said that every teenager needed a “Frankie” and she believed you would be ours. We didn’t get detention and my mom soon found our how right she was.
Carnegie Hall holds about 6,000 and the horseshoe-shaped interior didn’t look very big until we sat down. Our seats were right in front of you, in the back, on the floor, under the first tier, not stage right or left, but dead center at the apogee of the curve, in a direct line with you – when the stage looked about a block away. It was a thrilling, exciting, and frightening experience all at the same time. This was a very big moment for me, not only attending your concert, or even being at Carnegie Hall.
I’d been there almost every Saturday morning the year before, forced to attend the Bernstein Young People’s Concerts with Leopold Stokowski, (I can’t believe I’m saying “forced” – but at the time, Saturday morning’s were not for school-bussed symphony appreciation.), but to be in Manhattan at night was the dream of most teenagers. The Manhattan nightlife was for the older, more sophisticated, more cosmopolitan, legal-drinking-aged New Yorker, which we most definitely not. Whereas we were from the Bronx, an hour, a bus, a subway a lifestyle away, and we were certainly not sophisticated – in any way.
That night we were delivered right to your doorstep and abandoned on the sidewalk for hours. Do you realize where we could have gone, what we could have done? I didn’t – my friends and I didn’t have a clue, which is why our parents knew they could trust us ~ we really were clueless. No one blew it and we all gained the respect of our parents but more importantly, the awe of our friends. This was my Independence Day, the very beginning, the first baby step into my adult life and you were the catalyst behind it.
Your Carnegie Hall appearance was my first rock n’ roll concert and probably your most sedate. You were only on stage for about a half-hour that night and although we tried to scream out in between songs, I don’t think we succeeded. I wanted to be one of those people sitting behind you on stage and I always wondered how much they paid for those seats. You sang the same songs you did on the Sullivan Show; “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” was your biggest hit but John’s, “Twist and Shout,” has always been my fav.
I screamed at Forest Hills in 1964 and at Shea Stadium in ’65 and ’66. Forest Hills Tennis Stadium holds about 16,000, people and was located right in the middle of a neighborhood ~ I think two-story adjoining brick townhouses surrounded it. I can’t imagine arriving by helicopter and landing in the middle of that stadium in the heart of a congested suburb. I can’t imagine what it was like to listen to you and those 16,000 fans for an hour right outside your backdoor. It was an amazing performance, but I know that our screaming, as always, drowned out your voices.
I was one of 56,000 fans at the first Shea Stadium concert in 1965.
This time our seats were in a way-up-there tier, a little closer, albeit off to the side, but we could at least discern who was who and we had invested in binoculars. I couldn’t hear a word you said over the roar of the crowd that rumbled in my head for days. On the subway going home, we were yelling at each other, reading each other’s lips. I remember my mom telling me for days afterward to, “tone it down, Katie, please, tone it down.”
The overriding memory I have of this concert is not of you or your music, which is a given, but of the tremor of the bleachers under my feet. A trembling like the slow and steady ascent to the top of that first incline of a roller coaster, when suddenly we were over the top and into a free fall, that just didn’t end ~ an experience I remember to this day.
Halfway into the concert a wave went through the audience: not what you see at a football game on TV today, this was a tangible swell of fear. The pulse of the crowd screaming your names and your lyrics, the not-so-subtle “give” of the structure, made it seem as though the stadium was trembling under us. I clearly remember people turning, seeking, and finding each other, eyes wide with a quizzical look, knowing as we screamed, sang along, stomped, and clapped in rhythm to your music, that they too were feeling the throb of the audience deep in their chest. The second by second terror of what we believed would be the imminent collapse of the stadium held us enthralled, yet wonderfully ecstatic.
The stadium did somehow hold together and that night we gave life to the phrase “rocked the place.” I’ve never forgotten it; I don’t want to; I’ll always be grateful and I thank you for that ~ it’s one of the best memories of my life.
We’d been your fans for a year, so to see your second live appearance in 1965 on the Ed Sullivan Show, was just another mountain we had to climb. Tickets for the show were always free but you had to send for them in advance and I had already received a “regrets” letter. But, what the hell, the four of us decided to chance it. We had to take a bus and a subway, walk for blocks, and wait for hours outside the TV studio for unused tickets to be handed out to your ever-faithful fans. We finally did get in just a few minutes before show time and were ushered upstairs to the “peanut gallery,” along with all the rest of the chickadees, as Mr. Sullivan called us.
Mr. Sullivan gave the peanut gallery a little lecture about “the screaming,” he said we simply could not do it. Period. No screaming. If we screamed during your performance one of those cute ushers who escorted you in, would be throwing you out! Ushers stood in the aisles at the ready, stationed like soldiers on guard duty. This was live television, (or a live taping, I can’t remember), and with any screaming, no one would be able to hear you at home. We didn’t object to this at all, why would we, why would anyone, we were in the same building and not a block away, for God’s sake – we were thrilled. Most of the songs you sang that night were from your second movie, “HELP.” It was on this show that Paul’s “Yesterday” solo debuted and with that, the world began to realize you were making history.
Except for some fans breaking through a barrier but never getting near the stage, I really don’t remember, the ’66 Shea Stadium concert. I guess it just wasn’t as monumental as the first one.
I did buy every book and poster about you. Most of them twice, so I’d have extra to cut up and tape to the walls and ceiling of my bedroom, or to glue itsy-bitsy faces onto my nails. I bought every album, and saw every movie you made a million times – a ba-zillion times. To look like Cynthia, Jane, Pattie, and Maureen, I even straightened my very curly hair. It looked good for a while until the new hair started to grow in curly while the ends remained poker straight.
I didn’t burn anything when John made the remark about you being more popular than God. I knew what he meant. In parochial school they always had to threaten us to get us to go to church – no one ever forced me to go see you. And whoever heard of going to India on vacation, but when you returned with scraggy beards, new religions, and a sitar on your back, I just bought that music too.
I stopped buying in 1980, shortly after I got a late night call from a friend. I didn’t let the phone ring twice because like any late night call, I thought this was bringing bad news and I rushed to pick it up. Leah started talking hurriedly about John being dead, shot outside The Dakota. I didn’t say anything, I couldn’t, I could hardly breathe, and it was indeed very bad news. Leah said it was horrible, four or five wounds, but thank God, probably no pain. No pain? She knew I’d want to know and not hear it on TV first, so she was calling from the hospital. She was on duty that night and said everyone in the Emergency Room was dazed, in shock. Leah said she was sorry, she knew how much I loved you all and how I always hoped for a reunion tour. It was a brief call; it was a madhouse of reporters.
I sat stunned, sobbing. Gees, no pain? Funny, I felt pain – a deep searing, wrenching pain. A pain that made me fear I might not catch my next breath, made me conscious that a significant event had occurred in my life. The pull of gravity increased, I felt leaden, exhausted, and I instantly realized I was much older than I had been hours before when I made dinner for my family and put my five-year old son to bed; my youth was gone.
America and the world were unknowingly ready for you. We needed you to take our minds off the assassination of President Kennedy just months earlier. You gave us something to focus on, something to enjoy or criticize; you were the perfect distraction during a bleak and mournful winter. As with the assassination of JFK, I’ll always remember where I was when I heard the news. About the screaming, aside from acknowledging the excitement of the moment, it seemed to unite us ~ maybe is was just one, long primal scream.
I’ve always wanted to thank you - Thank you, Kate .