Kiss one and dance with all.
My new look was the talk of Beatle. Up until the final parts of the shoot, we visited the set and had a blast with the boys. Naturally, George and the so-called Pattie had been eyeing each other all through the movie, so that left John and Ringo to openly flirt with me. Not too openly, as I knew John was married and that Ringo had a girl, much to my sister’s dismay. But it seemed that as long as girls were not around, they were as handy as doorknobs. Ringo was incessantly going for she whom he knew would fall for it: My sister. I put myself in her shoes and admitted it was hard to resist oneself to Richie, which was the way some people called him. Richard was, after all, Ringo’s real name. He was as sweet as he was adorable. There was something completely endearing about that huge smile, a catchy enthusiasm, and a joie de vivre of sorts. John, on the other hand, was all over me all the time. He had suddenly ceased to be the wistful smartass and often took to charm, something I didn’t know him capable of doing. It was during one of these occasions that things began to come out all by themselves.
Jane’s party; rather, her parents’ party. Jess and I arrived with Neil, who had been sadly aware of Ringo’s intense flirting with Jess, but had said nothing. I felt a bit sorry for him, as I could see he really did have a crush on her. Beatle crushes are fleeting, I knew that much.
I wore the Mary Quant dress Theresa had so kindly bought for me a week earlier with a pair of matching brown shoes. It was cold, but I didn’t care. For the first time I felt the way I looked, instead of looking the way I felt. I looked fantastic, and I knew it. I was convinced I’d probably raise a few whispers, but little did I care. I toyed with the idea of wearing my hair up in a tight bun, but I opted for the same loose style from the previous time. I took extra care with the makeup, trying to imitate the style from the studio. I took some of Jesse’s perfume, and sprayed it on equally behind my ears. I couldn’t stop thinking of my friends Lin and Sharon. I hadn’t called them since I had been expelled. They had no clue where I was! I left a small note by the hotel room phone and made it a point to remind myself of giving them a call as soon as I got back from Jane’s party.
The taxi left us there, right in front of that huge house on Wimpole. There was a person at the door and a few police officers holding back barricades of fans. How word got out when there a Beatle was around was something I was unable to understand. Just as I opened the door, cameras flashed on our faces. We were not famous, yet anyone remotely associated with Jane Asher HAD to know at least one Beatle, any Beatle. I felt bad for Jane, remembering how she hated to be known as Paul McCartney’s girl, the lady of the cute one, the significant other of a Mop Top. I actually took advantage of that and smiled as they took our pictures. If I was going to be a model any time soon, being known in such a circle would certainly help.
Once inside, there was a berage of people that neither Jesse nor I had met. Out of nowhere, we could hear Jane squeak. –Jesse! Rita! Over here!
We simultaneously turned out heads to the right and saw Jane waving her hand. There they all stood.
We made way through to the committee, where Ringo, who had left the girlfriend at home, hugged us tight. –And how are you, luvlies?
With one girl under each arm, he took us to where everyone stood. George had Pattie with him, but nonetheless stared at me like he had seen an apparition. John began to babble incoherently, as he pointed with his index to my legs, which were showing a bit more than what they really should have. Neil smiled at me while Mal stared from behind huge glasses. There was another person there, someone that was introduced to us as a Liverpool mate, Pete Shotton, and he too was staring at me.
- Good Lord! - John finally managed to utter. - Who are you? What the bloody hell did you do to our mate, hey? - He gave me a friendly shove.
- Well…- I smiled at him. – I killed her…-
I managed to raise a few giggles, all but Paul, who stared at me in near awe while Jane went to get us drinks. I became aware of his stare. It wasn’t a smile, it wasn’t a winking eye; I may have been a virgin, but I was not stupid. I could recognize bedroom eyes when I saw them; and THOSE were bedroom eyes.
- Hey, Rita! - George spoke from where he sat. – I ‘eard you’ll be a model, hey?
- I’m working on it… - I shuffled a foot on the floor.
- Yeah, that much we can see! - John laughed, tactlessly gawking at my legs.
- Fit for the dogs? - I turned to him with a smile as he put an arm around me.
- I don’t care if she’s fit fer the dogs ‘ere or not…- John pulled me away with a smile. –She’s dancing with me, first!
Before I knew it, I was eight yards away from the rest of the crowd, and John and I were swinging to some Rock n Roll. One thing I could say about John Lennon was this: He may have been rude, tactless, disloyal and a bit twisted, but he was an excellent dancer! He laughed and smiled as he rolled me around, hoping that maybe in one of those turns my dress would fly high enough for him to see my underwear; no such luck, even though I knew he would have been the happiest person in that dance hall. After that wild roar of rock n roll, came a slow piece by the Beach Boys. I loved the beach boys, and I released a loud "Ah!" when the lights dimmed and I heard the opening lines to "In My Room". John suddenly turned serious, and pulled me to him by the waistline. While Paul had a hormonal grip on my persona, it wasn’t until that moment that I realized John had a hypnotic effect on me: Once in his arms, he could ask me to pull my hair out and I would have done it. He would not allow me to move away. Till that moment, any slow dance I had ever had had been at a reasonable distance, a couple of inches away. John deliberately pulled me against him. I could damn near feel his pulse, and for a moment I feared he’d feel mine.
- So… - he smiled. – Tell us about that modeling stuff, then…
I paused and looked away; eye contact was all I needed to kiss him, and it was the last thing I wanted to do. Or was it?
- Well…- I began. –I got the call this morning, saying that my pics came out great… And that I’m gonna be shown around for different markets.
- I’d be careful, if I were you…
I stopped and gained courage to look him in the eye. –Why?
- The way you’re looking, someone’s bound to cum ‘ere and steal you away, you know… Yer beautiful, you are…
- Don’t be silly…- I giggled
- No, straight up! - He giggled back. – I’d be the first to take you away and lock you up in a harem.
- Does this mean I should be careful of you, John? - Oops. I looked into his eyes.
He replied in a serious tone that made me shiver. –Aye, you should…
I should not have looked at him. The words that left his lips had done so without a note of sarcasm or anger in them. He just grinned at me sweetly. Could this be at all possible? Could John actually be sweet? Apparently, he could. His thin lips wore a tight but warm smile that made me shiver. Gently, he took my chin and raised it to his mouth, giving me one of the most deliciously encouraging kisses I had ever had.
- There… - He spoke again. – That’s just to show you I’m not always a prick.
I had to laugh. - Oops, there goes the moment!
He laughed with me and, with one hand, gently pushed me from the back of my head, sinking my face into his neck and shoulder. Although his smell was not the same as Paul’s, he had a scent of his own. Interesting and intriguing. He was annoying and terrible but also warm, caring and sweet.
Leaning on the right side of his chest, I looked around me, and saw Paul and Jane dancing as well. She had her back to me, but Paul’s eyes were fixed on me. His expression gave away a little more than what it usually did. I didn’t stare; I would not want to ruin my moment with John by thinking about Paul. But his stare was tattooed into my eyes. What was written in them? Jealousy, perhaps? Lust? Disapproval of his friend cheating on his wife? It was a serious look, a stare that said a lot and yet told me nothing.
I closed my eyes. I would not look at Paul any longer. I was with someone else at the time. But I hated myself for admitting that getting a rise out of him had been slightly satisfactory; if I had gotten a rise out of him at all. Plus, he was dancing with Jane!
When the piece was over, John grinned at me devilishly. - You do know what generally comes after the kiss, don’t you, luv?
- If you think I’m going to sleep with you, John Lennon, you have another thing coming! – I smiled, shaking my finger in front of his face in a warning manner.
- Well, that crosses out that possibility! - He pouted childishly, following the joke. –But that was not exactly what I had in me ‘ead, you know…
Now I was curious.
- So, what goes after the kiss? - I asked.
John turned to where the others stood. – ‘Ere, lads! Just kissed this one! Who wants to dance with her now?
Ringo stood up. –I’ll undertake yer dirty work ‘ere, Johnny! - Ringo stood up and walked to me. Oh, no…
Ringo saw the worried look in my face and laughed out loud. –Don’t worry, Rita! I’m not going to kiss yer!
I wasn’t afraid of that. I was afraid Paul had not volunteered. Well, what could one expect? His girl was there. How could I compete with Jane? She was perfect in every way, and Paul was far from blind to that matter. I may have looked great, but I was no Jane Asher, that was for sure.
But apparently, Beatle tradition had it for all to dance with the same girl at least once. While George spun me around the floor, I saw from the corner of my eye that Jane and Neil were dancing and laughing. Jesse was waltzing around with Brian. How he could be gay was beyond me: He looked manly and sensual in a sophisticated sort of way. Patti was joking around with John, making up a silly dance together. Where was John’s famous wife, anyway? And, more interesting still… Where the hell was Paul?
I had moved around with all Beatles, except Paul. I suddenly found myself dancing with Brian himself. He was charming and interesting, not to mention an excellent dancer. Looking around one more time, I now noticed Jane had gone missing, too. The thought made me cringe with some strange kind of jealous anger. My dirty teenage mind immediately jumped to the worst conclusions. Until I felt that same tap on my shoulder.
- Brian let us ‘ave a spin with Rita, hey? - He asked with a charming smile.
If there was a time to feel like my ankles were made of butter, that was it.
For the second time of the night, I had to find some other place to focus my sight in order to avoid turning into putty.
- So, thought I wouldn’t go through the switch, hey? - I once again heard him grin. I knew he was grinning, but I was not looking.
- The switch?
- Yeh. The girl John chooses is a girl we all dance with, at least one song, anyway… It's a band leader thing, been going on fer ages, now... Since Hamburg, actually...
- Is that limited to Mop Tops, or does that include road crew as well? - I managed to smile without looking like an idiot.
I heard him giggle. –Well, in the beginning it was just the band, you know, but…- He looked over to Neil and Mal. -…after a while, the tradition sort of picked up a bit…
I had to look… and I did; straight into his eyes. New look, expensive dress and psychotherapy could not delete the fact that nothing seemed to soothe me more than the smell of Paul McCartney. I fought harder than hell to hold myself back from throwing my arms around his neck and pressing my lips against his. It was a primal urge, and fighting primal urges is almost like wanting to pee and holding it back on purpose. It’s painful and extremely unpleasant. Such was the feeling here.
- You know…- He spoke with a grin. – I ‘ave to admit you do look luvely, Rita. - His cooing voice was like music to my ears. – I mean, you were always luvely, but you kept starving yerself and stuff… But now, well... – He eyed me from head to toes. –What can anybody say, really?
- Thanks, Paul. – I looked down to try and conceal the fact that I was blushing insanely. – So, ahem… - I looked to change the subject as quickly as possible. – Does this mean that every time John kisses a girl on the dance floor, the rest have to kiss her too, or is that not included?
Oh, great! Nice move dimwit! So much for switching to a safer topic.
Paul blushed a little. - Well, it’s the first time I’ve seen him actually kiss the girl in question… - He slouched a little, forcing the eye contact I was so desperately trying to avoid. -…but it would be a nice tradition to add to the old one… - He was smiling like a little boy. No, I would not! Not here. Not in Jane’s house, in front of friends and family. But God knew I wanted to.
Then, my prayers were answered. The song ended just as Paul had finished talking. I promptly pulled myself away from him, smiling and applauding. He did the same, and we both went back to where the table was. Jane was talking to someone who looked like an old relative, and she threw a glance over to Paul; it read get me outta here all over her huge eyes. Paul understood and immediately ran to her rescue, taking up the conversation while Jane excused herself and walked over to me.
- I feel bad for him now. He’ll have to listen to all THAT! - She spoke under her breath. She then turned to me as we both walked away from Paul. She smiled at me and asked me to go outside with her for a while.
I followed her into the back garden, and immediately felt the cold chill. The night was getting colder.
- Why are we out here? - I grinned.
Jane looked around and taking my hand, ran to the furthest corner of the garden. Once there, she looked around one more time. She opened up her jacket pocket and pulled out a packet of cigarettes. – If my mother sees me, she’ll murder me! – She giggled.
There it was; She was my age, she was a clandestine smoker, she was a Beatles fan and she was as teenage as I was. What worked to her advantage was that she was an aristocrat with fine upbringing and, apparently, even a bit of a royal descent there somewhere.
She lit up a cigarette, and offered me one. – You want?
I nodded and took one. As we smoked, she talked to me. –So… - She grinned, exhaling smoke. –You have danced with the Beatles. Do tell!
- Aw, like you didn’t know! - I nudged her.
- Yes, but I want to hear it from an outsider’s point of view! Not that I don’t consider you a friend, because I do. It’s just that you are kind of the newest addition to us. So tell me!
Friend? Jane thought I was her friend? SHAME ON YOU, RITA! Back to the iron maiden with you for all your sinful thoughts!
- Well… - I puffed out. – There was George who was sort of not paying attention to me…
- Yes, he’s got eyes only for Pattie, now! - Jane laughed and took another long drag. –Go on!
- Ringo is a great dancer! Brian? Well, what can I say?
- It is rather a shame, isn’t it? - She gave me a knowing look. –You DO know what I’m talking about, don’t you?
I nodded with a frown. – Yeah, I know. How does that get around, anyway?
Jane lowered her voice, even if no one could hear. That’s when I knew she was entering a taboo subject. – Word has it, he has it bad for John, you know. Real bad! And there was that time he and John went off to Spain together…
I gasped. – Oh, my God! Did they…?
- No, I personally don’t think so. – She sneered, shaking her head as she inhaled another puff. – But rumors are strong. John completely walloped some poor man because he insinuated he was Brian’s new bird, and stuff. This happened on Paul’s birthday party. It was on the news. The man had couple of broken ribs. If you ask me… - She lowered her cute voice even more - … I personally think John may have even killed the man had the others not stopped him.
- What does Paul think?
- He doesn’t. –She exhaled. –You’ll find Paul hardly talks about things like those. He’s very, very private, you know. It’s hard to get through to the real Paul. - She widened her eyes. –Even I have had a hard time, you know. I think that Paul and John have a bond that goes beyond words. But if anything has happened with…- She shrugged. -…You know… Brian if anything at all, Paul should know in detail. And to tell you the truth, if it were true, I don’t think Paul would respect John as much as he does. So I personally believe it’s all crap.
I threw the cigarette butt on the floor and stepped on it. –Respect? - I sneered.
Jane smiled. –Yes. They’ll never admit it, but they love each other to death. John’s mother died not long after he met Paul… And Paul’s mother had died not long before that, so you could say that they even have THAT in common. A guitar saved Paul from insanity…
- …. And Paul saved John from losing it as well, right? – I finished.
- Yes, that’s more or less it. - She nodded. – They are both stubborn as hell… And proud, not to mention childish and whimsical, but they need each other. They are more like twins than what they are mates.
- So… - I smiled, trying not to give my true intention away. - ...The way to Paul’s heart is through John.
- HA! - She laughed out loud as she tossed the cigarette butt away. – Good luck! John may be a basket case, but he’s twice as loyal than Paul is! - She smiled at me and winked knowingly. – Us girls were made to gossip, weren’t we? I know a thing or two myself…
We both giggled as Jess approached. –You evil women! - She smiled as she approached, shivering. –What are you two saying about me?
- That you are tall and ugly! - I laughed, nudging her.
- Oh, yes, the super model speaks! - She mocked me. It was obvious that Jane had chosen me to confide. That was good, because that way I could learn more about Paul without raising suspicions. I hated myself for going so low, but it was unavoidable. I would hold it back if at all possible, but I had no clue how long I’d be able to hold it before going for it. Like I said before, it was like wanting to go to the bathroom. When you gotta go, you gotta go and you can’t hold it back another second.
We then saw John coming in through the garden. As he approached, he turned to Jane. –Hey, Asher! You’re hogging the finest guests! - He moaned, taking me by the hand. He then turned to Jess. –Hey, luv… Neil and Ring are going barmy looking for yer. - He sniffed in the air, and then turned an evil look on Jane. – Jane, Jane, Jane… - He shook his head from side. - Been smoking again, hey? - He shook his finger in front of her face mockingly.
He turned to me. – She ain’t as goody-goody as she seemed originally, hey? - He began to imitate a gossiping woman. –I could tell you a thing or two about Jane Asher, you know, dear… Word ‘as it she’s not been ‘ad just yet! But, you know what I ‘eard? I ‘eard she’s dating Beatle Paul… And if I know Beatle Paul…
- John, be quiet! - Jane slapped him on the arm, smiling at him. – God help me, John, you ARE obnoxious!
- But me auntie luvs me, anylord! – He smiled like a child. –Not that I can say "me mum luvs me", her being dead and all…
Jane turned to me, blushing. – It’s not true, all right?
I hated to admit it, but I was relieved. I believed Jane. I figured this guy really loved her to wait for her like he did. And what John had said: "if I know Beatle Paul", which, it was clear to me, he did, then he had meant Paul was undergoing a great struggle not to touch Jane in a sexual manner. On to the next line, Jane’s talk that day at the Café, her struggle to overlook Paul’s non-stop flirting with other girls and his flings, which he believed Jane had no notion about. That entire moment made my day: Paul was easy to have if he liked you. And it was obvious he liked me. So there was hope… But there was also Jane. Sweet, lovely, friendly Jane who went out of her way to make us feel welcome. There I was again, struggling to fight my needs. I could not do this; I could not go so low!
John walked me back into the house for another couple of dances. I didn’t see Jane or Paul for the rest of the night, but I did giggle upon seeing Neil and Jesse dancing. She was normally chatty, but his eyes were almost weeping drops of honey over her. I wasn’t sure if she noticed it. But to this day I don’t believe she thought of The Loveable Beatle Ringo, at least not during the last few dances with Neil.
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