February 25, 2009

With a Little Help From … The Beatles

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The first time I came home the 3,000 miles from boarding school for Thanksgiving in 2001, I couldn’t hold in my glee. My mom parents drove me straight to In-N-Out Burger, then one of my best friends surprised me in my living room with several movies and an impromptu sleepover. I missed her so much and I couldn’t wait to duke it out with pillows at the jammie jam while we gossiped about old flames and Justin Timberlake. It was such a relief to be home and out of the grind. Everything was looking up.
And then our family’s dishwasher exploded.
I spent my first night at home standing by Garth, my redwood tree, with my friend, staring at firetrucks and masked gentlemen in rubber suits until midnight. And again, the Thanksgiving of my junior year of high school, 2003, one of the first calls I received on Gretel, my new phone, was from my dad. I thought he’d want to go over my flight info and wish me to ensure a safe journey. Rather, he called to let me know one of the two giant 60 foot tall, 10 foot diameter oak trees in our front yard (Richard, RIP), just fell. On my mom’s car. Murder-suicide if you will.
Despite my disappointment at getting driven to elementary school playgrounds at night to meet my friends instead of driving myself, we were all pretty satisfied that Richard didn’t take down our house instead of the car.
Something about my house suddenly burst into flames and narrowly escaping death by crushing — which, if you search “crushing” on Wikipedia, you’ll find it is a practice that was common in ancient Asia — made me take inventory of all of my personal belongings, and I began figuring out just which items I (or someone I paid) would run back into our blazing/trampled house to retrieve.
The Chanukah of 1999, my dad bought me a copy of Beatles 1. Though I was very familiar with the Beatles, as they constituted one album out of his constant rotation of the Beach Boys Endless Summer, Billy Joel’s An Innocent Man, and the Beatles’s Magical Mystery Tour (one of their least popular albums, incidentally), it was my first time having a CD of theirs and my first real CD to begin with. I had bought a tape of’N Sync’s eponymous album, then a cornucopia of Spice Girls, Backstreet Boys, Third Eye Blind, and Will Smith CDs, but the first CD of something that truly qualifies as music to me was Beatles 1. When I discovered it, I went into an ascetic, monkish state of simple listening. It was just me, and 1. I was one with 1 for an entire year. Then when the time was right, I rewarded myself by progressing to Sgt. Pepper’s, Rubber Soul, Revolver, etc. I remember the day I bought the White Album in a New York City Virgin Megastore in October of 2001. I lost it somewhere between a J.Crew and the Cornell Club. The polar ice caps melting couldn’t compete with my tears.
From the age of 12 to 14, every time a newspaper, magazine or other portable periodical mentioned anything to do with the Beatles, a reference to a member, a reference to a song or event, I would rip it out and keep it in my Beatles drawer. This soon became my Beatles armoire. Additionally, my dad used to have to splice tapes of Beatles references made on television for me. Then I had an armoire of Beatles tapes.
The first DVD I ever bought was a four disc set of their Ed Sullivan performances. My summer reading free choice books were several accounts of the Beatles. The last time I remember crying in public was in my English class freshman year of high school the morning George Harrison died. I was whimpering the bars of “Here Comes the Sun” to myself in a corner until my teacher suggested I take a personal day at the infirmary.
Frankly, I know I love the Beatles more than any of you could possibly do or could possibly understand. How can I be so sure? There is one Beatles song I will never listen to until I die. The person I entrust with my will shall have the only knowledge of what this song is, and if I die in a deathbed, it shall be played as I pass on to their concert in the sky. (In heaven they are reunited and all friends.) I’ve literally never told a single person in my entire life which song this is. People have tried to mess with me by guessing and playing the songs, but I’m pretty sure it’s still pristine. I think if I were to hear it though, I’d die then and there, because frankly it’s the only thing I’m living for.
So I’ve decided: When I run into my house on fire, ablaze from Jet Dry mixing with poor Swedish craftsmanship, what I’ll be looking for are my two antique copies of LIFE magazine, the two my mom bought me for my 13th birthday, and the only two that featured the Beatles on the cover. I’ll also be foraging into the depths of our freezer, where there lay four pieces of Seinfeld-esque antique cake. Much as she commissioned a likeness of the Titanic on my 11th birthday, for my 14th, my mom commissioned a cake with the Beatles on Ed Sullivan visages. I made my friends cut pieces around their faces and we have saved the cake for the last eight years.
Noel Gallagher of Oasis has said that he is the reincarnated John Lennon. This statement is ridiculous for two reasons. 1) Noel Gallagher was born before John Lennon died. 2) I am the reincarnated John Lennon. Just look at my Asian fetish.