One of our favorite activities when I and my friend Gigi Ballif were 14 years old was to find our parents' old yearbooks and look at the pictures. We could hardly believe that the faces staring up at us were actually REAL LIVE ADOLESCENTS. With their crewcuts and horn-rimmed glasses, our parents and their classmates already looked middle-aged. For sure they didn't look like the people Gigi and I went to Farrar Junior High School with.
That's why it always takes me by surprise to see the way teenage girls dress nowadays. With their macrame chokers, short skirts, skin-tight ribbed T-shirts and platform shoes, they look just like their mothers did when their mothers were busy watching "The Smothers Brothers" on television. I noticed this similarity between the "Girls of Today" and the "Girls of Yesterday" again the other night when I was speaking to a group of young females and noticed how many of them were wearing white lipstick just like Julie Christie in "Dr. Zhivago.""Dr. Zhivago" was the ultimate "chick flick" of the sixties, sort of like "Titanic" is now. (AUTHOR`S NOTE: This is not a slam against "Titanic." I myself am a "chick," which means I happen to admire and respect "chick flicks" very much.) In both movies you have good-looking guys who ultimately can't be with their good-looking women because one of them (Leonardo Di Caprio) drowns while the other one (Omar Sharif) has a heart attack as he's getting mown down by a streetcar. Or at least I think that's what happens. It's been about 30 years or so since I've seen that movie, and I could (possibly) be confused.
Anyway, "Dr. Zhivago" had a profound influence on the fashion of the '60s because, after its release, you suddenly saw girls everywhere wearing Yardley Lip Gloss (just like Julie Christie), as well as go-go boots (just like all those Cossacks). In fact, I'm pretty sure Gigi and I were wearing Yardley Lip Gloss and go-go boots the day we tried to call London to find out if Paul McCartney was really dead.
Here's the deal: Gigi and I loved the Beatles, so when we heard DJ "Skinny" Johnny Mitchell announce over the radio that Paul McCartney might be dead, we were naturally concerned. We started poring over all of Gigi's album covers looking for the clues that would help us understand what had happened to poor Paul.
These clues were not com-fort-ing.
For instance, on the cover of "Abbey Road," which features all four of the Beatles in a crosswalk, Paul is the only one with a black flower in his buttonhole. Also, he isn't wearing shoes. Finally, HIS EYES ARE CLOSED! Only one interpretation is humanly possible here: Paul's definitely on his way to get buried.
There was more alarming evidence. On the cover of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," for example, Paul is the sole Beatle with the well-known European Hand of Death hovering like "rabbit ears" above his head. And on the cover of the "Rubber Soul" album, you know that Beatle who is supposed to be Paul? Well, he's NOT REALLY PAUL, DUH!! Makes you think, doesn't it?
Finally, what about the way John says "I buried Paul" at the end of "Strawberry Fields"? Actually, the words are kind of unclear now that I think about it. Maybe he was really saying, "I married Saul" or even "I very tall." OK, I'll let you draw your own conclusions, but I think you'll at least agree that the evidence is compelling: Paul McCartney was clearly dead. Or, at least he was dead for a few months there in the late '60s while sales of Beatles albums temporarily soared.
Anyway, Gigi and I were so distraught that we (along with her sister Jenny and my brother Jimmy) decided to call London to find out if the rumors about Paul were true one Saturday afternoon when Gigi's mother was gone. (AUTHOR'S NOTE TO MRS. BALLIF: Please do not read any further. I'm pretty sure your children never told you about this.) We held up the cover of the "Magical Mystery Tour" album to the mirror, wrote down the phone number we saw there, and then I (as the designated mouth of the group) started to call England.
Somehow I managed to connect with an overseas operator several times (which just goes to show how completely scary an ignorant but determined teenager can be). Every time I gave her the "Magical Mystery Tour" number, however, I lost my head and hung up the phone because I was terrified that (get this) PAUL WOULD ANSWER HIS OWN PHONE.
And what in the world did I, a 14-year-old girl from Utah wearing lip gloss and go-go boots, have to say to a dead guy?