My Best Day Ever! (so far)
This is it! The best day ever in my whole life (so far).
Exactly fifty years ago:
February 9, 1964.
There has been a fair amount of hoopla this year, given the 50th anniversary, so you may recognize this date.
The Beatles made their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.
All my friends at school were so excited. For the last month, we had been crazed with Beatles Fever. We had set up a record player in the gym at the Bristol Girls’ Club and played the two singles (four songs) over and over. “She Loves You” with the forgettable “I’ll Get You” on the B side, and “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” with the unforgettable (to me) “I Saw Her Standing There” on the B side. By over and over, I mean OVER and OVER. No one said, “Enough!” We couldn’t get enough.
Every girl had a favorite Beatle. And it was easy to know which Beatle any little girl would choose. The cute and popular girls liked Paul. The day-dreamers were drawn to John. The shy, bookish girls loved George. The girls who were most likely to adopt a stray dog: Ringo.
Being the dreamer that I was, I liked John Lennon. Some of my classmates were outraged by that idea. “But he’s married!” they cried. I didn’t really see what difference that would make, since I hardly thought he was going to ask me on a date. But although I may have been a dreamer, I was not a boat-rocker. I switched (at least in public) to George.
And after weeks of anticipation, Ed Sullivan announced that The Beatles would be on his show. On February 9, 1964.
That was not just a day. That was my birthday.
And it was not just my birthday. It was my thirteenth birthday.
I was FINALLY going to be a teenager. In possession of two already-teenager sisters, I had been desperate to be a teenager for the last two years. And with a February birthday, I was always one of the oldest kids in my class. I was the first one of my friends to become a teenager. I had huge bragging rights.
It was my day. I was a teenager. I was an adult. Makeup – here I come!
All my friends were thrilled at the prospect of seeing The Beatles. I was going to see them ON MY BIRTHDAY.
No one else I knew could say that. No one else was becoming a teenager to the tune of “I Saw Her Standing There.” Of course, I didn’t look like a teenager. I looked nine.
But I didn’t care.
The day was perfect. I wore the brown dress my mother bought for me at Lord & Taylor. For church in freezing February, I didn’t wear my one pair of stockings. (Oh, there was no pantyhose in those days. I had a tiny little girdle with garters that the stockings fastened to.) I could not risk having those horrible splintering pews ruin my only pair of stockings. So I wore my bagging beige tights. There was no lycra in those days. Skinny girls like me had droopy knees and ankles every day.But I didn’t care.
It didn’t snow. I had learned early on that having a birthday in February meant that you had a good chance of your birthday party being cancelled. I became philosophic about it by age 8. (I still am by the way; we had a blizzard last year). Back then, I was lucky though – I lived in a two family house with my aunt and uncle and their kids on the first floor. That guaranteed me a minimum level of celebration.
But it didn’t snow, and my other aunts and uncles and great-aunts, and grandparents showed up. They actually came early and I forgot to change to my stockings. I wore my stupid baggy tights to my birthday party. But I didn’t care.
My hair came out okay. Okay for me. I hated sleeping with rollers, and I usually ended up pulling out a couple in the middle of the night. So in the morning I usually had only one curly side. And that day was no different, except instead of a curly side, it was more of a lumpy side. But I didn’t care.
I think I got a nice gift. I think it was the Brownie Fiesta camera I had been lusting after. But I honestly don’t remember. I didn’t care.
My party was still in process at 8:00 PM. We stopped. We adjusted the tin-foil on the rabbit-ear antenna.
My sisters and I stood before the old Sylvania black-and-white television, and swooned at the fuzzy images. (Actually, my oldest sister didn’t swoon – she was way too sophisticated. But she watched carefully.) My fifteen-year-old sister and I swooned.
Oh my God, they were amazing. The Beatles were so cute in their adorable suits and adorable haircuts. And they sang to the screaming girls in the audience. They sang to me. They shook their shaggy heads and smiled. They were so happy. We were happy.
Just a few months before, we were also motionless in front of the television. In shock and in sadness at the death of the President.
And here were these sweet boys singing to us. Telling us it was okay to be happy again.
On my thirteenth birthday.