As if I didn’t have enough trouble fitting in as a child, I never saw the Beatles on "The Ed Sullivan Show."
Whether it was past my bedtime or because my parents either didn’t know about the show or wouldn’t let me watch it, I really couldn’t say. Like most people my age, I do remember the band’s first appearance. But only because I showed up the next morning, in Miss Gould’s second-grade classroom in Boonton, New Jersey, completely and utterly clueless.
It was Monday, February 10, 1964. I have since read that 73 million people — more than 40 percent of the U.S. population — had tuned in to the Sullivan Show the night before. I just wasn’t one of them. Not only had I not seen the show, but I discovered that by missing it I was totally unprepared for school. Not because I hadn’t done my homework but because I had no way of knowing (and communicating to others) which Beatle I loved the most.
All the other girls in my class that day — girls whose parents or older siblings had known to turn on the television that fateful night — fluttered and chattered away about the monstrously huge TV event they had witnessed the night before. I had no idea what they were talking about.
“John, Paul, George or Ringo?” a group of girls screamed at me when I arrived at school that morning. I knew that something important lay in the balance, but I was frozen by their excitement and enthusiasm.
“Ringo,” I blurted out, grabbing onto the only name I could in the melee.
My eyes were closed but I knew by instinct that I had failed to choose wisely.
“Ringo?” my classmates cried. Then, again and again, “Ringo? Ringo? Ringo? Ewwwww!”
I might have gotten away with George — or at least one of the more popular girls might have gotten away with George — but I had chosen the ugly Beatle and an indefensible position in any case, since it was quite clear I didn’t even know who he was.
My parents and I had just moved to New Jersey from Queens. And so I was the new girl in class and already having a hard time fitting in. Then, too, to be a seven-year-old girl with glasses, especially pointy, gray, cat’s eye glasses, was not a good thing. To have an incomplete grasp of popular culture and no older siblings to help me in that arena was difficult. But to be one who hadn’t watched the Beatles on Sullivan was catastrophic. My social ruin was complete.
To this day, I have a special place in my heart for John, Paul, George and Ringo — a dark place. I never really liked the Beatles, and it didn’t help that my family didn’t have a car radio, a stereo or the habit of giving me an allowance with which I could have bought their records. I was always disastrously behind the social eight ball because of them. They caused me nothing but pain, and it didn’t have a thing to do with breaking up or getting murdered.