Not that I don’t need some, but this is about the movie. It came out in 1965 at the height of what was to be called Beatlemania. As everyone on the planet knows it was not the first film the Fab Four made together, but it was my favorite. At the time I was one of the few boys in my class that started to take a liking to the band; mostly the girls were crazy for them. But I had seen them along with hundreds of thousands of others on the Ed Sullivan show and decided I liked them. They made good music. To this day I maintain there is no bad Beatles recording. I may like some better than others, but none are bad. I can’t say that about any other recording artist I am a fan of, and there are some heavy hitters in that group. When news that their new movie would be coming to our local theater, the Lowes Sheridan on Sixth Avenue, the excitement level was probably way too much for the many parents in the neighborhood. I knew I wanted to go see the film as I had missed A Hard Days Night when it premiered but how was I going to get there? I couldn’t go alone; I was way too young to go myself but who was going to volunteer to take me? What grown up would want to stand with me in a line of frantic giggling girls out in broad daylight on a local street for everyone to see because there was no doubt there would be long lines to get in? Who would sacrifice a Saturday afternoon to watch a film they had no interest in seeing and a band they didn’t understand or even like? Who would sit through what in hindsight was a film only a Beatles lover would like? A silly romp through the Bahamas with the boys as they tried to thwart a plot to get back a valuable ring stuck on Ringos finger? Who loved me that much? Who would stand there in line, stoically smiling when people from the neighborhood would acknowledge us and smile slyly to themselves, undoubtedly thinking ‘poor sod- how did he get roped into that?’
To my great surprise and undying admiration, he volunteered (I am sure with some prodding from Mom) to take me one sunny Saturday when I am sure he would have liked to be listening to jazz, practicing his saxophone, walking through Central park or a hundred other things more to his liking.
But he did it.
And or course we saw girls from my class at PS41 who smiled and stopped to say hello. I surprised myself by proudly introducing Dad to Sarah, Emily and Sharon and they all laughed and blushed and he turned on that Tommy Ortel charm and impressed the lot of them. I remember just standing there with him in line, happy to be doing something alone with my Dad, just him and me but there was something more than that. It was special that everyone else was there with their Moms or older sisters and I was there with my Dad. Something I thought would be awkward, became really a lot of fun and obviously a wonderful memory.
I never told him what that meant to me. I do remember thanking him a couple of hundred times as we stood in line, and at one point he must have gotten tired of hearing it so said:
“What? Why shouldn’t I want to spend time with my boy?”
You don’t forget moments like that. Ever.
We watched the movie, chomping on popcorn he had bought for us. I was enthralled; he chuckled now and then at something I am sure he thought was ridiculous. And when The Beatles saved the sacred ring and Ringos finger, we walked out into the sunshine and he asked if I had had a good time. It couldn’t have been better I told him and not just because of the movie. I thanked him again for taking me and he said he enjoyed it too and I just chose to believe him. We came home and of course Mom asked how it was, and he even stayed in the kitchen with me as I told her the story, and how funny it was. He even chimed in and talked about a favorite scene of his and how beautiful the Bahamas were.. At that moment I had the very real thought that there was no better Dad anywhere in the world.
The next Monday at school the girls in my class who we had met in line all came up to me to tell me what a cool guy Dad was and how lucky I was to have him as my father.
I smiled and nodded in casual agreement.
It was very sweet and gracious of them, but they didn’t need to tell me that.
I knew it.