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By Amy Phillips Penn

I am watching the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, with a telephone receiver to my ear and my friend Mariel on the other end.

She is screaming and crying out her love of Ringo.

Beatles hysteria rules New York school girls.

Make mine Paul. I start to scream along with her: “Yeah, yeah, yeah.”

My parents are in shock. My brother has a look on his face that I’m not entirely crazy about.

“I’m tape-recording you and playing your screams at the next Trinity recess. You sound deranged,” he says, knowing that I have a crush on at least half the school.

He dangles the tape in the air.

“How much is it worth to you?” He means business. Baseball cards and bubblegum are not the likely trade; neither is wampum.

New York has gone Beatle crazy. We needed this so achingly after the JFK tragedy.

Long hair and English accents have made us wild and free again.

Every kid in America wants Beatle tickets.

My mother is an ace at this. She can usually pull the impossible out of a top hat. She’s on the phone all day, being exceptionally charming.

A girl at an Upper East Side New York private girls’ school is suddenly uber popular. Her father is the president of the Beatles’ recording label.

The daughter has invited a few of her friends to see the Beatles.

I don’t know her and I’m out.

My mother’s charm is wearing thin.

She calls one of our erstwhile neighbors from East 57th Street, who is a lawyer for United Artists.

He sends me an autographed copy of “Meet the Beatles,” with the word “to our friend, Amy Phillips who we hope to meet soon.” Be still, my heart.

He promises my mother tickets to the next Beatles concert and a backstage intro.

This is beyond “beyond.”

The dream fractures into a smattering of disillusion. The lawyer has had a heart attack and died.

Mariel takes matters into her own adolescent hands.

Her classmate’s mother drives a group of girls to the airport when the Beatles arrive, so they can all holler their adolescent lungs out.

Mariel sneaks into the hotel where the Dave Clark Five are staying.

The Beatles did not arrive alone, they brought the “English invasion” along, including other rock groups; English models like Twiggy, who wore a painted flower around her eye as a Vogue cover-girl and Jean Shrimpton, (aka the Shrimp), whose lips were glossed in Yardley slickers; while designer Mary Quant added makeup and minis. English slang (“fags” for cigarettes) became the vogue, along with sexy, long hair on boys.

Magazine stands were smothered and stacked with Beatle news; Mariel and I studied our Beatle stats. Her boyfriend’s sister asked if we knew how long Ringo was. She could have cared less.

Mariel came from the hotel, probably the Plaza, sighing about how she had kissed Dave Clark.

As far as my brother broadcasting my hysteria at Trinity, I’ll never know if it happened, but if it did, it’s good to know that I was once young, crazy off-tune and unabashed.

Thank you, Ringo, George, Paul, John, and my friend Mariel.

After she broke up with her boyfriend, she soaked the ring he gave her in some nauseating French perfume of her mother’s and mailed it to Ringo.

If only all breakups were always so much fun!

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