Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Imagine Lennon’s Autograph

I’m a big Beatles fan. No matter what challenges the day presents, those marvelous collection of tunes – really, any one of them beside “Mr. Moonlight” – will turn my frown upside down.

Unfortunately, the four mop-topped lads from Liverpool didn’t produce in my father the same serotonin kick. Back in the day, dad would storm into my room to make me lower “that Devil’s music.” 

(Of course, “Yesterday,” “Eleanor Rigby," "Here Comes the Sun," "In My Life," and "Here There and Everywhere” are the soundtrack to many a basement satanic ritual.  Any impressionable kid hearing those songs has no choice but to begin hunting down and sacrificing small animals to drink their blood.)

One night, dad gets home from work and reports, “I got you the autograph of that bum, John Lennon.  He came in to buy a car.  A station wagon.”

I am absolutely beside myself.

Really really!!! Let me see it!”

My father fishes into his wallet. Lennon’s signature is scribbled on the blank side of his “Midtown Chevrolet” business card. This was the tail end of the era when big gleaming American cars dominated the roads. Dad sold cars at an expansive Chevy dealership on Broadway and 57th Street smack in the heart of Manhattan: gleaming ‘Vettes, Monte Carlos, Camaros, and Impalas were displayed behind over-sized plate glass windows on the second floor overlooking Broadway. Today, the space is the bland home to a nondescript chain drug store selling makeup, potato chips and flu shots.

The autograph sure looks real. But is this some sick trick?

I can barely sputter out the words: “How do you know it was really him, John, the Beatle?!”

“He was pale and had long hair and glasses and was with an ugly chink,” my father says. 

Bingo.  That would be Yoko.  Our own Archie Bunker had nabbed a Beatle signature. (I would later do the research and the timing worked - it was right before Yoko sent John packing with their assistant May Pang to head for LA for the fabled “Lost Weekend.” One account even confirmed they were looking for a wagon.) What a momentous day in my young life. Jimmy G. secured a BEATLE AUTOGRAPH.  And given it to me.

My father may have loathed the man, his music, even his taste in women. But he thought enough to humble himself for that signature. From time to time, beneath the gruff crudeness and defensive characterizing of people would appear a heart of solid gold.  Ok, maybe gold-plated.

Now that he’s gone, these periodic fleeting gestures are what stay with me. 

The memories are all I've got.

You see, I lost Lennon's autograph.  Imagine no possessions.  It's easy if you can. 

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