School Jitters

“What if they don’t like me?”

She shifted around on the plastic blue booth seat, then fidgeted with her fork.

“I bought a really cute skirt for tomorrow. It’s cheerful.”

“Great idea. You will brighten up the room when you walk in.”

She slumped a little. But we weren’t here to discuss posture.

“I got so much stuff. I spent a lot of money. What if I forgot the one super important thing that I don’t know I needed?”

“You’ll be fine.” I scooped up bean dip with a fat tortilla chip and managed to get the whole thing into my mouth at once, rendering it useless but happy. “You were at this school last year,” I mumbled, “‘t’s not your first rodeo.”

“There’s gonna be a weird kid in the class, I know it. That one kid that waits until we’re all doing silent reading and then tips over his chair or starts tapping the desk or needs to go the bathroom a million times. Last year, kids kept moving things from my desk and it made me crazy.”

“Oh come on, it won’t be that bad. You will all get along great once you show up.”

“I can never sleep the night before the first day of school. I’ll have a headache. What if the alarm clock doesn’t go off and I’m late?”

“This happens every year. It’s just the jitters. You’ll love your class.”

Plates of fajitas, tacos, and a beautiful margarita arrived. Busy silence ensued because we have our priorities straight.

Then she took a long drink of lemon water and looked me in the eyes.

“Remember math?”

“Girl, you’re bringing up Common Core? I graduated as I recall. But I told you so. Well. I told America so. Or something like that, because if we would just stop doing a “new math” every five years and agree on one, single way of learning long division, we would all be rocket scientists by now.”

“I’m not sure anyone is learning anything. Every year there’s a new thing waiting for us and it’s nothing but tests and rushing and watching the clock until I get to go home.”

“You don’t have to tell me; you’ll be tested every five minutes! No crying.”

I looked at her for a beat, “And no cussing.”

“Seriously?”

“Okay fine, what about PE? Lunch? Do they even attempt music or art?”

“We might. I don’t suppose you want to come in and volunteer to teach it?”

We both got a little crazy in the eyes for a minute.

“Nope. Nopity nope. Like I said, I graduated. Everybody graduates sooner or later and there’s no going back.”

“Rub it in,” she frowned, “I only have…” She thought for a minute. I hoped she wasn’t using Common Core to figure it out. “…about a million more years to go.”

Stupid math. I took a drink.

She was shredding her napkin into tiny little confetti bits. “Even lunch is dumb. We used to always line up at the door in two lines. Boys and Girls. Last year we lined up in colors. Red and Blue. This year we’ll probably line up by attitudes: Good Kids and Tornadoes.”

“Take a few deep breaths. Smile. Introduce yourself. All the teachers and kids will love you.”

The bill was paid and we gathered our things to leave. I gave her a reassuring hug.

“You are the most organized, energetic, friendly person I know. You’re going to rock tomorrow. You are the Teacher. And you are changing the world.”

Meteors, Grunion, and Other Unicorns

I’m lying on my back on the new outdoor deck we built this year (by “we”, I mean “Hubby”), staring real hard at the night sky. The Perseid Meteor Showers are on this weekend because my recurring calendar says so, and after years of trying to locate it, I have to say, “Bah, humbug.”

They don’t exist.

Not in the Star Wars fantasy that I’m imagining it to be. I’m expecting a version of lightspeed proportions and the stars are just sitting up there, laughing at me. And that’s okay. The air is cool for August and the little chorus of frogs in the creek have gone to bed, replaced by the occasional screech from an invisible owl. The kids, knowing full well that they can’t control the heavens via remote control, went to bed and I feel a little disgruntled only because these are the same guys who insisted that grunion are worth staying awake for.

And grunion aren’t real, either.

A grunion run by the light of a full moon, traced by following Instagram commentary at 1am on a warm summer night, is a fun way to entertain guests. These elusive little silvery fish swarm random beaches to spawn and if you have a fishing permit, you can catch the buggers by hand and put them in a bucket. What you are supposed to do with them next is anyone’s guess, but it doesn’t matter, because no one buys a permit because no one is ever going to find a grunion, let alone touch one, and you spend the wee hours of the morning running from beach to beach with a flashlight and end up at an IHOP getting coffee because it’s the only thing open.

Is that a meteor? No. It’s an airplane. It must be lost. Could be a satellite, maybe.

When I was a kid, I sat up one Christmas Eve, staring out the window, desperately trying to convince myself Santa was real and knowing full well he wasn’t. But, presents. So when a plane went by, red light blinking, I said, “Well, there you go, he’s on the job.” And that would’ve been that, except for after another couple of minutes, an actual UFO went by, defying categorization, and years later, I wonder if it was a Stealth Bomber. I mean, we’re in San Diego.

It’s as possible as the owl that just crossed overhead, a deep black shadow beneath a paler black sky. Massive, silent, beautiful.

Not Santa, so much.

I had a conversation with my kid in the car the other day, and mermaids came up, purely in a scientific way. I mentioned that it was more possible that unicorns were real than mermaids and proceeded to explain the whole lung vs gills issue, followed up with what I thought was an obvious flaw in the system: they must be a fish and only mammals have hair. A real mermaid would have gills, no hair, no nose, and bugging out eyes on the sides of a flatter head. Maybe we’d driven past a Starbucks. The image wasn’t pretty.

This is why my kids don’t hang out with me.

There. That had to be a meteor. It went by fast, over there, in the corner of the sky where I wasn’t really watching. But something moved. Or I blinked. It could have been a shooting star. Oh, whatever.

But a unicorn, that works for me, because my daughter does the tours up at the Safari Park and everyone knows that the scimitar oryx has the body and horns of a unicorn, when it turns sideways, just so, or maybe loses one horn in combat. I’m pretty comfortable with a unicorn myth.

Well, it’s so far past my bedtime that I should start my morning laundry. My back and neck are getting tired.

Wait. What was that? Over there? Oooooooooohhhhhh………

See?

Zucchini Daze

It’s finally happened! After a solid six years of trying, I grew a single, perfect, fuzzy zucchini!

Stop laughing.

Yes, they grow like weeds and turn into fat old gourds if you don’t pick them the very minute they arrive, and after paying actual dollars for dirt (dirt, people) and building a shrine to hold it in, and covering it with a critter-proof cage, and faithfully watering, and singing songs of hopeful longing to little sproutlings, I have managed to grow…this.

This being the sum total of four months of labor. This year.

I don’t know where I’ve gone wrong. It used to be so easy.

But the zucchini was beautiful. I discovered it an hour before we left on a family vacation and packed it gently with a towel into my car. There was no way I was not going to eat it. This little veggie cost me a lot of money and a few tears and I deliberated how to do it proper justice.

Enter Ziggy. Ziggy was not technically camping in our particular hut but he came over all the day long to cook his own food in the little kitchen we had, the cafeteria not able to furnish his dietary requirements. Ziggy is also not technically his name, because I protect the identity of happy campers who cook with wine and wield large knives. Furthermore, Ziggy was always barefoot. I told him we were going to lose our “A” in the window.

As the fam and I trudged off to the cafeteria for meals, heavenly aromas drifted on the breeze as Ziggy made himself smoked salmon omelets and lamb shank stews. He hummed the occasional melody. Carrot peels festooned our trashcan. I realized then that he was a Hobbit. I dubbed him Siegfried Wanderfoot.

My little triumph sat on the counter, blending in with the coffee grounds, pondering its fate. Days went by.

Finally, Ziggy asked, “Are you going to eat that?”

“Um, yes. I just can’t decide how.”

“Too small for bread,” he agreed, “too large for a pickle. What are your thoughts on garlic?”

And this is how the most triumphant zucchini dish ever prepared materialized out of actual thin air.

And also how I ended up with a personal chef who is also a Hobbit who can survive at an altitude of 5,400′ above sea level. If you ever used to have a plethora of zucchini and disguised them in a multitude of recipes, you have forgotten what a squash tastes like. Heaven. It tastes like fresh, green, heaven with little clouds of garlic butter. Enjoy.

Ingredient List: hand-reared organic zucchini, pure butter, fresh garlic, Oakwood smoked black pepper, pink Himalayan rock salt, Rosemary, thyme, marjoram, and a machete.

No shoes, no hairnet, no facenet, no “A” in the window…Ziggy living the life.

Ziggy’s Zippy Zucchini
Hand tended organic zucchini sauteed at altitude in pure butter with finely chopped fresh garlic and seasonal herbs.
  1. Plant organic zucchini seeds and tend and water daily.
  2. After many weeks, and in the height of summer, pick one fresh zucchini and carefully transport to a mountain over 5,000′ in elevation.
  3. Let zucchini rest for a minimum of three days, soaking up the wild scent of pine.
  4. Slice zucchini lengthwise into 5mm thin slices with a sharp knife. Put aside to rest.
  5. Grind both pepper and salt over both sides of zucchini slices with love.
  6. Finely chop fresh garlic cloves and place in saute pan with a sizable portion of pure butter.
  7. Put gas stove on high heat and melt garlic butter, adding herbs in small doses as it melts.
  8. Lay zucchini slices in hot pan and saute, turning every two minutes to ensure an even cook.
  9. When zucchini starts to caramelize and crisp up along the edges, remove from pan to rest for one minute.
  10. Arrange on plate in floral pattern. Enjoy with a glass of Layer Cake cabernet sauvignon.

The Plated Wonder

Symbiosis

laughter sprinkles from the kitchen
kettle hissing, cups of steam
honey, lemon, or milk?

curled on couches
cushioned conversations
whispered confessions
giggles

you just never know
well that’s what I heard
we’re here for you

me too

trace the pattern on a napkin
over and around, over and around
and sigh in response to conundrum

pillars under clay roof tiles
bedrock settles
windows thrown wide to the weather

friendships steeping
symbiosis
mosaics in a teacup

If Your Kids Are Full of Feels

Earlier this year I wrote an article for a personality blog and I included advice for “Thinking” parents of “Feeling” kids.

I “think” my kids didn’t “feel” like reading it, which is fine, because the last thing we need to do is tip them off to our parenting techniques.

Including Big Five Personality and DISC Behavior Assessments,  Holland Code Career Testing, and Meyers-Briggs Personality Typing, this website includes fun tests and a lot of information about how to make the most of our own characteristics and understand those of others.

This is how I found out that child care, bartending, acting, and public relation specialist are “incompatible” careers for me. However, I can be a correctional officer, pharmacist, umpire, or labor union specialist. I dunno. “Feels” like the same list.

Better late than never, to know yourself. Had I known that my ISTJ personality types “rarely dote upon their children”, I wouldn’t have felt so guilty about forgetting their birthdays. You know. Sometimes.

And just perhaps I wouldn’t have tried so hard to think my way out of their heartfelt trepidations.

So, here’s my article for all you hard-working, reasonable parents just trying to get through a day without running out of kleenex or whine-wine-in-a-box. Cheers.

Dump It to Crumpet

There was a time when driving to the dump was high entertainment. It was a multi-media event. You could sell tickets. They did.

When I was a little girl, my dad let me ride along on trips to the city dump. That was back when they did dumps right. He drove his giant pickup truck up the dirt slopes to the area where backhoes and tractors were creating a lovely series of canyons to fill. You paid your five bucks and backed up to the smelly pile of refuse and added your own trash to it. I would sit in the cab, head hanging out the window, and watch in fascination as people lined up and started throwing items into the growing heap. Sometimes my dad would empty his load and then toss in someone else’s donations.

“Look at this,” he’d say, “they just threw out a perfectly good chair.” Now it was ours.

The smell at a dump is unique and tangy. It fills your sinuses with something between compost and dead cat. The tractors keep things percolating so it doesn’t get out of hand. The sounds of diesel engines and seagulls fill the air. Seagulls will scavenge anywhere and eat almost anything. While you would be hard pressed to find rats in the constantly shifting landmass, the birds thrive.

When it was time to go home, I sat on dad’s lap and steered the truck while he worked the pedals. Six-year-olds are welcome to drive at the dump. Everything’s already destroyed.

They just don’t make dumps like they used to.

Excuse me. “Disposal facilities”.

Trash is now sorted inside of three-story concrete bunkers where the seagulls can’t see it, and while you must still remove items from your truck yourself, you are encouraged to dump and run. No time to linger and enjoy the show. To get a nice deep whiff of that wonderful pungent tart and sour air.

I looked over to the hazardous waste area. Workers in gloves and coveralls tossed giant TVs, computer keyboards, empty propane cylinders, and…hey! that’s the exact same bread machine I have! The one that makes your loaves square instead of round. Someone tossed it? What a waste.

I mean…I guess waste is the idea here. Waste disposal. Got it. Don’t have to like it though.

Watching them work was like watching the Three Stooges pack for a move. They were doing something I have always wanted to do: take that machine that just broke on me in the middle of something super important and THROW IT ACROSS THE PAVEMENT WATCHING IT BURST INTO TINY SHATTERED BITS OF SORRY.

And these guys are getting paid to do it. Awesome.

They are the only thing standing between us and the Dark Ages.

The recycling facility next to trash collection sorted plastics from metals from paper. Conveyor belts carted them into the air and spit out bundles at the other end, five feet cubed. Some cubes were crushed milk jugs, abstract art; white with bits of random color. Soda cans came out impossibly interlinked, a cube of shiny aluminum brilliance. It was fascinating.

Management shooed me away from their art gallery and for all I know, saved my life in the process.

I came away with some favorite thoughts:

  1. I am re-confirmed in my opinion that, in this large living America, less is still more. So much of our trappings are disposable. Simply outdated, unused, or unloved. Less things. Try not to have so much in the first place.
  2. The recycle idea is wonderful. Re-gift. Re-purpose. Don’t toss it, see if someone else can use your bread machine. Shop at thrift stores. Donate freely. Circulate your stuff. Sharing is caring.
  3. It is deeply satisfying to watch old homework, random junk mail, and nasty utility bills get thrown across the room one. more. time.

 

Shaken Awake

Has anyone seen the 90s?  The 1990s…end of the century…any of this ringing a bell?

I recall the hubbub about Y2K and laughing it off but sort of curious whether, if it went and knocked out technology, we would be able to live off my fabulous garden and three hens.

Answer: yes.

The year 2000 came and went. I  looked up for a minute and marked the occasion with a shrug, but the 1980s were so fabulous, it sort of made up for skipping the decade between.

I spent the 1990s raising zippy little kids and we lived in a little feisty bubble that extended only as far as our little red wagon could carry us: elementary school around the corner and preschool around the other corner. We didn’t have TV by choice, but rented VHS movies from the library (also around the corner, or “river bend” as Pocahontas explained), watching Disney movies, science videos, musicals.

I have a lot of video footage (that’s when video came on film, people, you could measure it in actual feet) of my kids singing  their “ABC”s and learning how to somersault (you bend over until your head touches the ground, then your sibling runs up behind you and gives a mighty push) but nothing on the rest of the planet.

I can’t tell you who was president then. I have no idea what the fashions were. If a food craze or fad diet swept by, it must have bounced off our bubble and landed elsewhere, because we were focussed on not choking on a Lego.

But on September 11, 2001, I was shaken awake (alive?). On my birthday no less. Not that turning 34 was such a deal. We had an alarm clock radio that woke us up at 6am every day with the news, (that explains so much…if you whack the snooze button, mission accomplished and you still have no idea what’s happening on the planet) but this time the sounds coming from that little box were absolutely foreign.

So much so that we flew out of bed and into the living room, turned on the TV and adjusted its crooked antenna. On the east coast, in New York City, one of the twin towers had been hit by an airplane. Just as the shock of what we were seeing hit, another airplane flew across the screen and into a second building. Right in front of us.

It couldn’t be real. We stood there, frozen, not breathing, as black smoke billowed into the Manhattan sky.

Minutes dragged by. I never changed out of my ratty lavender bathrobe. The kids wandered the house. I changed the baby’s diaper on auto-pilot. The TV announced that a plane had smashed into the Pentagon. I looked through the window at our clear – deserted – morning sky.

These weren’t accidents. I cannot think of a more surreal moment. It might as well have been a zombie apocalypse. Eventually, Hubby had to tear himself away and go to work. Just to feel normal. A voice in your head says, “If we go through the motions of a regular day, this will turn into a regular day”.

The kids foraged for Cheerios. A large truck pulled up in front of our house, and I stumbled out and signed papers for a delivery of gray blocks. The driver and I had no words. We exchanged looks that said, “Did you hear what they just said? Can they have possibly gotten this wrong? What’s happening?”

Or maybe it was just, “Lady, drag a comb through your hair already.” And he left. My phone rang. The baby cried.

After yet another plane crashed in the middle of a field, I have to wonder how, or even why, I got the kids to school that day. Perhaps the 1990s routine was that strong. Can you still tie your shoelaces if the world is blowing up?

The answer is yes. My world has blown up a couple of times, and all I can think is that the human heart is supple and tenacious, and if there’s a breath in my body, I’m going to tie my shoes and stand up. If only because – suddenly – so many others could not.

It felt like a physical punch to the stomach, and it was years before I could cry over the magnitude of such loss. Loss of life. Loss of innocence. Loss of a decade.

I can’t remember the 90s. I’ve misplaced that bubble. But I remember the day I was forced to pay attention to the planet again. And I think I learned how to somersault.

Security Breach

Last week, we woke up and discovered that we had been victims of a home invasion robbery.

Foolishly, we had left the back door open to the night breezes and everyone knows that a flimsy screen door doesn’t stand in the way of a determined burglar.

The door opens onto a balcony and only scaling the walls to the second floor will put you a position to know whether the door was actually open. We thought we were safe.

Afterward, my daughter remembered seeing a movement from the corner of her eye two days prior, a quick shadow in the evening gloom, hanging around our garage and disappearing when she turned to get a better look.

He was casing the joint. Waiting for his moment. Admiring the goodies he imagined were inside.

The dirty rat broke into our home in the wee hours on Monday and took his time wandering around, deciding what he wanted.

I shudder to think we were all deep asleep and heard nothing. What if our bedroom doors had been open? What if we had heard footsteps and gone to investigate? I can only promise you one thing for sure: I would have taken one look and run into the streets shrieking. To my shame, I would have left my family in the house asleep and hailed a cab headed for anywhere else.

I’m helpful like that.

Instead, I staggered into the kitchen that morning and saw the destruction left in this guy’s wake. He obviously took a joy ride through the place. There were big, fat rat droppings everywhere, and puddles that glistened in the early light.

I did an about-face and shrieked for Hubby. Bad enough I had valiantly fought the ants all summer, now we had rodents. Maybe roaches are next. We did find that scorpion once. And termites are common here.

Best to burn the house down and start over with a concrete tilt-up and a gallon of caulk.

What’s the world coming to when you risk dying of plague in your own house?

My sweet Hubbs went into the kitchen while I showered even the thought of rats off of me, and he covered everything in sight with Lysol. All of it. To soak. The droppings got fatter.

He threw away the food that was on the countertops and wiped most of the rat bits from crevices and told the kids that making peanut butter sandwiches for school was totally doable on our new, clean sofa. Probably. Then they all left.

I threw everything in the area made of fabric into the washing machine on the hot wash/extra rinse cycle, and pushed the go button. Shrink if they must, but I’m not carrying leptospirosis into the world on my spandex and starting a pandemic.

What if the rat was still in the house? What if he was hiding under the washing machine waiting to jump me with his sharp little incisors and scratchy scrambly claws when no one was around to save me? The thought kept me motivated. You’ve never seen such discipline. I poured a gallon of bleach and an ounce of water into the mop bucket and shined every bit of floor. The ants were very confused. I considered washing down the walls and ceiling.

There was no police report I could file. I had no witnesses, no suspect in cuffs, no video surveillance, and our alarm system hadn’t been activated that night. Certainly not at three inches above floor level. The police couldn’t help me, but I have the right to bear arms. I loaded up on rat traps.

When we visited the animal shelter three weeks ago, I had looked around for an anteater, which is definitely my first choice of pet, but they mostly had cats and dogs. They did have a horse outside.

And a cage in the lobby.

With a rat in it named Ginger.

A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband

To every other little bride
Who has a “Bob” to please,
And says she’s tried and tried and tried
To cook with skill and ease,
And can’t! – we offer here as guide
Bettina’s recipes!

To her whose “Bob” is prone to wear
A sad and hungry look,
Because the bride he thought so fair
Is – well – she just can’t cook!
To her we say: do not despair;
Just try Bettina’s Book!

It’s been 100 years, ladies. And I want to know. Can you cook yet?

This little gem, circa 1917, is on my bookshelf, a wedding present from Hubby’s younger brother who stole it, I am sure, from a distant great-aunt’s box of cookbooks, gifted partly in jest and partly in fear that I would try to cook a chicken without looking inside of it first…again.

Written in chapters with roman numerals, the book follows the first year of Bettina and Bob’s wedded bliss as they keep house in a bungalow during the roaring ’20s, somewhere in America. Through dialogue with friends and family, we discover that “new fashioned breakfast foods are for feeding the stock, not human beings!” We learn what Bettina keeps on her “emergency shelf”: cans of pimentos and tuna, jars of dried beef, marshmallows and macaroni, a one-pound box of salted codfish. With a thousand ways to please a husband and three of them are “Jellied Beef”, “Radishes”, and “Peanut Butter Sandwiches”, I’m confused.

But what can you expect? When an engagement is announced, it’s toasted with…grape juice. Like. Until 1933. And, fresh out of World War I, “dainty, delicious, and simple” are the words of the day. This can be interpreted as: tiny little portions. Her flower arrangements are bigger. Good thing dessert is included almost every night. Bettina meets Bob on the porch as he returns from work each day, she in her apron, he in his spats. Recipes for “Tuna Loaf”, “Prune Souffle”, and “Ham Timbales” support their complete happiness.

Bettina is quite accomplished in economy (“I always try to use the oven for more than one dish if I am using it at all”), so you won’t find her spending all her allowance on the gas bill (“open fires are so nice”), and full of advice on how to use up those leftovers in the icebox (croquettes, salads, molded, or en casserole). She can remove ink stains with sour milk, heal burned fingers with olive oil, and cleans her steel bread knife by dipping it into the dirt in a flowerpot. I laughed at her newfangled “fireless cooker”, then pondered her jars of jellies and pickles, but when I read her conversation about how to get rid of ants…I got in line. Talk to me, Betty.

“Mrs Dixon was dressed in a trim street costume, but under her veil Bettina could see that her eyes were red, and her lips quivered as she answered, “Forgive me for coming so early, but I just had to. I know you’ll think me silly to talk to you confidentially when I met you only yesterday, but I do want your advice about something.”

“Why my dear, of course. I like economizing; it gives me an opportunity to use all the ingenuity I have.”

“Frank and I’ve lived in a hotel but – lately he’s been so different. Why – he hasn’t been at home with me two evenings a week – ”

“You must be dreadfully unhappy,” interrupted Bettina, “Why, Bob doesn’t like to be away from home any evenings at all.”

“But you’ve just been married!” said Mrs Dixon tactlessly. “Wait and see how he’ll be after a few years! Why, I can’t cook a thing – I can’t even make coffee! Frank says if he could only have one breakfast that was fit to eat – ” and she buried her face in her handkerchief.

“Why Mrs Dixon!” cried Bettina, cheerfully, although her heart was beating furiously. “Your trouble is the easiest one in the world to remedy! Your husband is just hungry – that’s all! You do just as I tell you for one month and I’ll guarantee that Frank will be home every single minute that he can!”

Coffee

7 T-coffee
3 T-cold water
1/2 T-egg white
4 1/2 C-boiling water

  1. Scald the coffee pot
  2. Add the coffee, cold water and egg-white
  3. Mix thoroughly, add the boiling water
  4. Boil two minutes
  5. Allow to stand in the pot one minute
  6. Serve
  7. Brace yourself

San Diego, August 28, 1965

She wore a hot pink and black granny dress chosen specially for the event, and white go go boots zipped up the back of her calfs. The boots she had begged for and received last Christmas. Her straight-as-a-pin strawberry blonde hair swirled around her shoulders as she hopped into the car, her freckled face rosy with excitement.

A sophomore at Castle Park High School, she barely knew the three senior girls who were giving her a ride to the concert that night. But it didn’t matter. This wasn’t a concert you take your boyfriend to. Her parents weren’t interested. And she needed to get there.

The girls parked in the lot of the Balboa Stadium, a horseshoe shaped AFL venue, home of the newly acquired Los Angeles Chargers. A pack of cigarettes was passed around, but after two coughing fits, her attempt at senior-level coolness was abandoned. The ride was enough.

With hard-earned nickels, she had purchased an advance ticket for a front row seat, the very best in the house for $5.50: on the field, with only a rail between the bleachers and an elevated stage. The girls pushed toward their seats, surrounded by over 17,000 fans.

The opening acts began. King Curtis Band, Sounds Incorporated,Discotheque Dancers, Brenda Holloway, and Cannibal & The Headhunters. Each new band raised the anticipation level for what was to come as the sun set in the west and stadium lights flickered on. In the open air that warm August night it was a challenge to not overheat from singing, dancing, or simply leaping over the benches with impatience.

150 San Diego police roamed the area, keeping fans in place. The chanting thousands stood up, searching for any sign of impending phenomenon. Her hand kept straying up to the commemorative pin given out by the sponsoring local radio station, KCBQ, the station who knew her by name, she called in so regularly with song requests.

And now they were bringing her the music in person. She could hardly stand the wait.

Just after 9pm, the British Invaded.

The screams reached octaves that only dogs can hear, it’s likely ships in the harbor began evasive action. The Beatles ran on stage and began a one and only, last minute concert in San Diego. There was mass gyration, a flailing of female forms, as devoted fans completely lost their minds. Our sophomore, only sweet 16, watched John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr performing only a few feet away, their perfect mouths singing into microphones…and couldn’t hear a single note.

With no intermission, they played a dozen hits: their truncated version of Twist And Shout, followed by She’s A WomanI Feel FineDizzy Miss LizzyTicket To RideEverybody’s Trying To Be My BabyCan’t Buy Me LoveBaby’s In BlackI Wanna Be Your ManA Hard Day’s NightHelp! and I’m Down.

There were Charger-worthy football tackles as each song brought more fans over the rails. Police held back the tide of sobbing humanity while the Beatles worked off their pre-show dinner of sodas, sandwiches, and KFC.

We know now that this August would mark the last of their commercial concerts, at the end of a frantic four year touring schedule. They could not compete with the fanbase wall of sound, realizing that live performances no longer had anything to do with their music. The next step in their musical journey would be the creation of Sergeant Peppers Lonely Heart Club Band.

So I’m glad our sophomore – when she realized The Beatles were done, when she watched them abandon their instruments on the stage and flee for their lives across the field to a waiting helicopter – hiked up her granny dress and hopped the rail. Racing ahead of the surge, she and everyone else ripped up the turf that the musicians had run their rhythmic shoes over. She held onto that contraband fistful of sod for the next 25 years. In a baggie. Like weed. Until it turned into dust.

She kept it next to every album The Beatles ever made, heaps of memorabilia, and of course, her KCBQ pin.

Fast forward to June 6, 2019. I’m at the Fair, standing right in front of the stage, singing at the top of my lungs with the band: The Fab Four. I’m delighted that my childhood training was so thorough: I know all the lyrics. I know all the dance moves. I hitched a ride with girlfriends. I’m only missing the go go boots.

I’m happy to report that mom never did take up smoking, although The Beatles were all heavy smokers and worse. KFC, however, remains a family delicacy.