I was so overjoyed, I barely noticed that I had wolfed down dinner. Nerves did wonders on my stomach, I thought I was going to lose that great chicken dinner I had just eaten! The phone rang at 7:50 p.m.--too early for an 8 to 9 o'clock call, but nevertheless my heart skipped a beat. Brian excused himself and answered the phone, and chatted with the caller for a few minutes. 'Oh, please don't tie up the line, Paul's supposed to be calling me soon!' I thought to myself as I nervously tapped my feet. Brian came back in, and said, "Miss Dearborn, there is someone on the line who wants to speak with you." I almost jumped out of my chair before he finished the sentence, but I resisted that urge and instead politely excused myself. I tried my hardest not to frantically run for the phone. So I just skipped over to it instead, making sure I was out of eyesight before I did.
"Yep, sorry I called early, am I interrupting dinner?"
"No, we just finished eating, we were just sitting around chatting. Everyone wants to know about America, it's almost exhausting everyone asking me all these questions!"
"You're not too tired to hit the town, are ya?"
"No, of course not, I have been so excited about being over here that I have hardly slept anyway! I'm fine...so, when are you picking me up?"
"Well, how about in 15 minutes?"
Yipe! "Sure, 15 minutes sounds great. I'll go get ready right now. I'll see you soon." I rang off and went back into the dining room.
The table was cleared already, I knew I should have helped with cleaning up! So much for impressing Brian's family, and for that matter, Brian. I went up to him in the kitchen and apologized for not helping clean up after dinner. "Oh, that's not a worry, you're a guest in this house, I shouldn't expect you to help." He pulled me into the empty dining room and confided, "And besides, I think my Paul just might have quite a thing for you...you've only been in town 24 hours, and you've already snagged two dates with him!"
"Really?" I said in amazement. He nodded and smiled. I blushed and looked down at my feet. "Well, thanks, I guess." Brian patted me on the shoulder and I ran upstairs to touch up my hair and makeup. And oh no! I couldn't wear the same outfit that I had worn that day! I had on the red and white polka dot dress with a white cardigan sweater, with red sling-back heels. That was just too dressy to wear out at night the places we were going to go. I rummaged through my bags to find something to wear. For once, my crazy way of packing paid off! For a three-day trip, I brought about 5 or 6 outfits. My reasoning behind this is how am I supposed to know Thursday night what I will be in the mood to wear on Sunday? Anyway, I found the pink top and black cigarette pants that I had bought recently, and slipped on my black flats. Suitable for a night on the town...not too trashy, not too frilly, just right. I hoped Paul would think the same. I touched up my makeup and pulled my hair out of the ponytail and fluffed it up a bit. I heard the doorbell ring, and I waited in the upstairs hallway right by the stairs. I could hear Auntie lecturing Paul about bringing her Jilly home safe and at a reasonable hour, and then she was whispering something to him. I rolled my eyes thinking about it--she sure could be fun sometimes, but she was definitely related to my mother! I came bounding down the stairs (pretending I hadn't heard the previous conversation) and everyone stopped talking. Paul just looked at me, that same funny look I saw before. "You look great, luv," he said.
I think I smiled so big that some of it overlapped onto Auntie's face, 'cause she was smiling just as big as I was! "Well, ready to go?" I asked as I grabbed my purse off the couch.
We hopped into his car (actually his father's) and drove to the Butlin's holiday camp, where Rory & his group had been performing for a couple months. We didn't have to pay anything to get in--guess fame does get you perks! Paul introduced me to the band, which was very exciting. Soon I thought I would meet every rock band in Liverpool! We watched their performance. The way Rory jumped around on stage, I began to wonder if they had any musical talent at all and if it was just showmanship. Paul was right, though--their drummer was good. We danced for quite a while, I had to sit down to catch my breath a couple times. I was having so much fun I didn't notice how much beer I had been drinking...I discovered I had a taste for Bass ale that summer! I was pretty woozy by the end of the performance. We hung out with the guys in the band for a while. They were reminiscing about their Hamburg adventures, but I'm sure their tales were sanitized on my account. I asked them more about the differences in the audiences between England and Germany. And as always, they started asking me about America. I was beginning to get a little sick of telling the same stories and answering the same questions over & over. On the good side, it was refreshing to have some guys interested in hearing what I had to say.
We finally left around midnight. I was beginning to panic that Auntie was staying up waiting for me. Paul assured me that Auntie had okayed us to be out until 2 a.m.! I didn't believe him, I wasn't used to freedom like that. My mother would have never done that, even since I became of age to stay out past curfew--she always tried to keep a tight leash on me, trying to protect me from the evils of the world. But here I was, a couple thousand miles and heaven knows how many time zones away, out at midnight with a local rock star! I smiled at the thought of her sweet little Jilly rebelling in such a crazy manner! Or maybe it was the ale making me giggle...who knows! We decided to just walk a bit, neither of us were in good shape to drive yet anyway. The evening was a bit cool and windy, but still comfortable to be without a jacket. Or so I thought, I was soon getting chilly. I was trying to hide it, but Paul noticed my folded arms anyway and put his arm around me as we walked. "'Ere, this'll keep you warm, luv." Although it was chilly and just someone's arm around you shouldn't be enough to keep you warm, somehow it made me feel good...secure, that's the word. Secure. His arm around me was comforting.
As we walked, we talked more about our families. We both had a younger brother that we loved but were still a pain in the ass and a father that always protected us from becoming too rowdy. I started complaining about my mother having too tight a leash on me and how she would probably panic if she knew where I was right now. Paul was silent for a minute and said, "Be glad you still have her around. Me mum died about 5 years ago, and I still miss her every day. I know me dad does, too, and Michael. I wish she could see me now, I wish I could talk to her now, ask her things about her life, her opinions on things...I wish she were here even just to tell me to turn down me music."
Talk about putting your foot in your mouth--I felt stupid and really wished I could take back what I had said about my mom. We walked in silence for a few more minutes before I finally had the courage to say, "I...I'm sorry, Paul. Sometimes I say things without thinking...I'm--"
He interrupted with, "No, that's alright, how could you have known?"
"Do you want to talk about it? What was she like?"
He took his arm from around me and put both hands in his jean pockets. "She was the best woman I have ever known. She was nice and caring...she was a nurse, so I s'pose she used that caring to her advantage. Dad loved her very much. I was fourteen when she died, breast cancer. Ironic, eh? A nurse who takes care of other people couldn't even take care of herself enough to save her own life." He tried to hold back his tears, but they wouldn't be stopped. We sat on someone's front stairs and he was sniffling. "I'm sorry to cry...I don't cry about these things...I didn't even cry at her funeral. I just hid in my music. Whenever I'm upset or lonely, I pick up the guitar and just get lost in the music, and all the bad stuff goes away, at least for then."
I put my arm around him and fished for any kind words that would help. "Maybe all those feelings were just buried inside you and needed to come out. For some reason, maybe this is the right time. Maybe you weren't mature enough to deal with it then, but you are now."
Paul wiped his nose on his sleeve. "It's just that I feel so comfortable talking to you. It's a little crazy, I've only known you for a day and I feel I can tell you anything...even stuff I can't tell John or Ivan, or any of me other friends. Those blokes wouldn't understand...well, John would...he lost his mum, too, just a couple years ago...some drunk copper hit her with his auto, right out front of her sister's house. He'd been living with his Aunt Mimi 'cause his mum abandoned him when he was a tyke--her name was Julia, just like your mum--but he was just gettin' back to knowin' her and havin' a relationship with her...and bam! It's all gone all of a sudden." He shook his head and stared at his shoes.
"Woah...I am so sorry." I felt so stupid; that's all I could come up with to say. I had tried to help, but I doubt my words gave any comfort. I didn't know what he was going through. How could I know? I'd lost my paternal grandfather, but I was three. I hardly remember him; most of my memories have been pieced together from scrapbooks and family stories. Other than that (and losing my gerbil Rita when I was ten), I hadn't experienced loss...I can't even begin to imagine how I would cope.
Once he had regained control of his emotions, we decided to walk back to the car. I think we had walked about ten blocks, and it was getting late anyway. I was tired, but I was eager to hear more stories, and Paul wanted to change the subject anyway. He told me more stories about touring all over--their first, disastrous tour in Scotland, their cramped quarters in Hamburg, touring England with various groups, and all the highs and lows that come with being a struggling rock & roll band. I could listen to him all day...most of the people I hung around in college were in the school of music for a classical performing career or teaching, not performing rock & roll. His life seemed so exotic and exciting--a far cry from central Illinois. I was familiar with the popular music, but it wasn't something that I would study or make a career of. They were getting discouraged that even though they had achieved fame in Liverpool, it seemed they weren't known much farther than the city limits.
He mentioned that he and John had been writing some of their songs themselves, which impressed me quite a bit. I was impressed; I said, "I've always been a little jealous of people who could write a good melody. I can arrange songs a little. I helped my roommate arrange Buddy Holly's 'Peggy Sue' for her string quartet last fall."
Paul looked at me strangely. "Like violins and that rubbish?" I nodded. He shook his head in staunch disbelief. "I'm sorry, but I just can't hear Buddy Holly played on a violin. That's just not right."
I shrugged my shoulders. "It wasn't my idea, but it did turn out alright, I thought." I fished around in my purse for some chewing gum, and as I pulled the pack out, a tattered piece of paper fell out. Before I could pick it back up, Paul snatched it up for me. "I'll have that back, please," I said impatiently.
Paul said, "Why are you so protective of this piece of paper? Looks like an old letter to me. May I?" he asked. I figured there wasn't any harm in his seeing it, so I said, "Go ahead." He unfolded it; it was a poem I had written about a year before.
By Jill Dearborn, September 1961
Why do you make me so angry?
Why do you make me so sad?
You say you are protecting me from the evils of the world.
Don't you think that you should let me find out for myself?
Paul looked back up at me when he was finished reading. "Why did you not want me to see this? Isn't poetry meant to help you feel better?"
"Yeah," I said timidly. "But I just sometimes feel a little ashamed...no, not ashamed. Vulnerable, I guess. That's my feelings down there on paper, written as I feel the emotion, just to help me sort things out. I feel like someone's seeing too much of me if they read it. I don't usually let anyone else read my poems. They're just there to help me get through rough times. That one I carry around with me to remind me that I'm grown up now and an independent woman." I shuddered a little as a light gust of wind swept by. "Can we change the subject now?"
As we walked on, he told me that he after the band thing petered out, he wanted to go back to school to become a teacher. I was shocked; I stopped right in the middle of the sidewalk and turned to face him. "Wait a second, you're basically surrendering right there! Why do you think you won't make it? I've heard you guys--you're great! You can easily make it here, and it's something radically new that isn't the thing right now over in the States. I think you'd make quite an impression over there." I paused and tried to give him comforting words, something that would let him know I was here for him. "You've made quite an impression on me." I squeezed his shoulder and smiled at him, not trying to come on to him, just being reassuring. He obviously read it wrong, 'cause he kissed me...not that I minded. I was getting accustomed to kissing this guy...I liked it. I liked spending time with him, I could talk to him about almost anything. But I was going back to London in a matter of hours, and in a couple months, back to the States. I figured we could write back and forth, maybe once in a while a phone call, but what could come of that kind of relationship? Did he even want anything like that?
We got back to the car and he drove me back to Brian's...hmmm, only 1:30, not bad. He walked me to the door--what a gentleman, I thought to myself. We stood at the door a bit awkwardly for a second, then he spoke. "Sorry about gettin' all emotional earlier...I don't know what came over me there. You're just good to talk to, Jill...I know that we hardly know each other but I feel I can tell you anything. I'm just so comfortable around you."
"Yeah, me too. Well, um, I guess this is it. 'Til next time?"
"Yeah. Can I ring you tomorrow? We have an evening show at the Cavern and I'd love for you to come see it. Maybe we can meet for lunch or something."
"That would be great! I'll look forward to it. 'Til next time, Paul." We kissed again, another one of those nice, involved kisses that can make a girl weak in the knees. We broke apart after what seemed like an eternity, and I saw a dim light inside come on. "I'd better get inside...looks like someone's waiting up for me."
"I'll ring you tomorrow...'night." He gave me a quick kiss on the cheek, and walked back to his car.
I went in the house, thinking I would be met at the door by Auntie and a billy-club, but what I found was Brian searching through the refrigerator for a midnight snack. He noticed me and said sheepishly, "Well, I guess you caught me red-handed, Jill!"
"Oh, I don't care, I've been known to raid the fridge late at night." And I had, too! My dad used to call me "Sneaker" because I used to sneak down to the kitchen for a late-night snack. It caused me to get quite chunky, and I'd fought in my teen years to get and keep that weight off. But my dad still occasionally calls me "Sneaker"--old habits die hard, I guess.
Brian settled on a leftover roll with jam. As he spread the jam on the roll, he sighed, "I won't keep you up, you can tell us all about your date in the morning. 'Night, Jill." He walked back up the stairs and into his room.
I walked (or was that floated?) up the stairs to the room I was sharing with Auntie. I slowly opened the door, trying to be quiet. I was sure that Auntie was sound asleep, and I didn't want to disturb her. I was pretty surprised when I saw her sitting in bed reading.
"Oh, you're home already? I didn't expect you 'til about 2!" she said with a chuckle. She marked her place in her book and patted the bed next to her. "So...how was it?"
I sat down on my bed, which was next to Auntie's. "The Butlin's? Oh, it was fine. I got to meet the guys in the band, they're really nice. Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. Did you know that Ringo their drummer filled in for Pete sometimes in Hamburg? I found out that Ringo's real name is Richard, and they have matching pastel suits they wear on stage, and when they and the Beatles were in Hamburg they had a contest to see who could break through the rickety stage first..." I kept trying to go on about stuff that had happened that didn't have anything directly to do with Paul, hoping she wouldn't ask, but it was to no avail.
"And how's Paul?" she asked with a smile.
I fell back on the bed with my arms out at my sides and sighed. "Oh, Auntie, he's incredible! Simply incredible...I can't even explain it, he's just great..." I whimpered as my voice trailed off. I sat up, hugged my pillow and continued. "And I don't really want to talk about it anymore because we are going back down to London soon, and then before we know it I'm going back to the States. He's a great guy, but..."
Auntie was trying to pull it out of me. "But what?"
I sighed, one of those heavy sighs you do when you're trying to organize your thoughts. "Auntie, I haven't had a serious boyfriend since Nate Patterson in high school...hell, I can count the number of dates I have gone on in college with my shoes on! I have guy friends like Dan Jacobsen, whom I have no interest in romantically. I know I just met Paul, but it seems like we could be good together, at the very least friends, and probably more than that, if it wasn't for being so far apart. We just 'click', ya know? But I don't want to even think about it, I'm only going to be let down."
Auntie sat next to me on my bed. "Now, you don't know that. If you're meant to be together, then somehow you two will end up together. Or maybe he's just one of those fleeting summer romances, a weekend fling or something like that. We all need those once in a while. God knows I had my share!"
"Well, I'll just sleep on it. He said he'd try to ring me tomorrow...er, later today, I guess! We might meet for lunch, and they have an evening show."
"Sorry to burst your bubble, hon, but remember, we're going to that small luncheon with Brian and some other local record shop owners...Brian was looking forward to having you there. I don't want to be a party pooper, but I want you there, too. Your little friend will have to wait."
Now that both Auntie and Brian had let me down, I decided there was nothing more to do but get ready for bed. I couldn't sleep, though--I couldn't stop thinking about what a wonderful day I had had. When we went into the Cavern, I knew I was going to be meeting a group of young men around my age, but any thoughts of doing anything beyond seeing them perform hadn't crossed my mind. Paul was such a nice guy, a real gentleman, he didn't try any "fast moves" on me (well, not really!), we had a great time together, we talked a lot...it would just depress me if I couldn't see him again. I couldn't stop thinking about him. I surprised myself with how giddy I was just thinking about him. I knew that nothing could really come of it...but maybe we could just remain friends, correspond back & forth, maybe a visit once in a great while, and leave it at that. With those thoughts, I surrendered to the Sandman.
On to Chapter Four
Back to Chapter Two
Copyright © 1999-2006, Winona Patterson.