Today's Reading

By the time Theresa showed up to watch The Ed Sullivan Show that night, Dad had read me the entire New York Times article and we'd listened to WPRO radio until I Want to Hold Your Hand came on, which was almost right away, because the song was already number one. In fact, the DJ dedicated fifteen whole minutes just to Beatles songs, playing She Loves You, I Saw Her Standing There, and All My Loving without interruption.

Dad was tapping his fingers on the table in time to the music. "Oh, Trudy," he said, "these guys are good."

"It's not very melodic, is it?" Mom said. Mom liked Frank Sinatra.

Dad's eyes met mine, and it was like he looked at me for the first time ever. No, like he saw me for the first time ever. We smiled at each other, two Beatles fans. Dad nodded, as if to say that we were in this together. I felt so happy, I almost forgot my sore throat.

"I like Paul best," I announced when Theresa showed up.

"So do I," Dad told her.

He scooped ice cream into bowls for us and set up the TV trays. Usually Mom did this stuff, but she wasn't a Beatles fan. She didn't understand.

Ed Sullivan announced, "Ladies and gentlemen, the Beatles," and the girls in the audience screamed and cried.

Theresa screamed, too. I couldn't, of course, because of my tonsils. But it didn't even matter because there were the Beatles on the stage singing, and all I really wanted to do was sit there and watch them. I wanted them to never stop singing because somehow Theresa was right. The Beatles had arrived and everything changed.

Later, after the show was over and Theresa went home, Dad came and sat beside me on my bed.

"Last November we all lost hope, Trudy," he said softly.

I knew what he meant. The November before, on November 22 to be exact, Lee Harvey Oswald had shot and killed President Kennedy, and the whole country went into mourning. Our principal, Mrs. Abbott, ran into our classroom sobbing and said, "Our beloved president has been shot," and she told us all to go home. When I got home, my mother and Mrs. Mazzoni and all the other mothers from the neighborhood, except Mrs. Blaise because she worked as a nurse in the ER, were sitting in front of the TV, crying. That's how I knew for sure it was true.

Dad took my hand. "But the Beatles are bringing joy back into our hearts," he said, and he squeezed my hand. "I love you, yeah, yeah, yeah," he whispered, and kissed me on the forehead.

"I love you, too, Dad," I whispered back.

I closed my eyes, and the song played over and over in my mind, like a lullaby putting me to sleep.

* * *

The day I went back to school after my tonsils were healed, I stood up in class and announced the formation of the Beatles Fan Club.

"The first meeting is today, right after school," I said. "The sign-up sheet will be outside the office."

By lunchtime, fourteen kids had signed up. And I, Trudy Mixer, became the most popular girl at Robert E. Quinn Elementary.


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