In honor of my sister's birthday, I took a moment to re-read one of our favorite essays: Paul Girl, by Anna Quindlen. You should too, it will bring a smile to your face, especially if you're old enough to remember at least one appearance of The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show.
Just the other day, Peg and I were asking ourselves, "Are we OLD or WHAT?!" Over the decades, we have gaged our place in history with the query, "Do you remember seeing the Beatles on Ed Sullivan?" (Gleefully, yes.) Or, even earlier, "Do you remember when JFK was shot?" (Sadly, yes).
In 1985, an unexpected indicator came up at a grad school party when a stranger inquired if I was young? or old? What did he mean? "Well, lets put it this way," he replied, "did you have to learn to use a slide rule in high school?" Despite my eternally youthful appearance (remember, I was a mere 28 years old at the time), when I said "yes," he declared "OLD!" I had to laugh! Not long after that, I saw some high school kids at a fundraising flea market selling old books and lab equipment, including "antique" slide rules; so, I guess the party guy's assessment was not far off the mark.
But getting back to the Beatles and the 60s. Quindlen recalls that you had four choices in 1964 -- you could be "a Paul girl, a John girl, a George girl or a Ringo girl . . .
The girls who picked George as their favorite Beatle were self-contained, serious, with a touch of the wallflower and a bit of the mystic. The ones who chose John were aggressive, irreverent, the smart mouths, the wisecrackers. Ringo got anyone who was really determined to distinguish herself, the kind of girl who would wear wax fangs or weird clothes, who would choose the boy at the back of the band, with the big nose and the strange looks.I loved my sister's response when I first shared Quindlen's essay with her twenty years ago: "I was (still am) a 'Beatles Girl.' I like to believe I'm a combination of all of the best parts. A down - to - earth, mystical, irreverent, and wax fangs type of person. But mostly I'm a (Sir) Paul Girl."
Paul got the little ladies - like me. He was cute in a mainstream way, funny in a mainstream way, a public persona not much different from the most popular boys in the class. He was for girls who were traditional, predictable, who played by the rules."
And me? Yes, a Paul Girl -- but in a George ("Give Me Love Give Me Peace on Earth"), Ringo ("Thomas the Tank"), John ("Imagine") and Yoko ("Woman is the Nigger of the World") kind of way.
Anna Quindlen Posts
Mind the Gap
Take This Quiz!
Do You Think It Is?
Camera, Memory Keeper, Time Machine
Your House, Of Course
Play With This