Tuesday, February 3, 2004

I Want To Hold Your Handkerchief

I was cleaning the closet in the spare room the other day, not because I had a sudden urge to do housework (which, in my case, will never happen unless scientists invent a mind-altering “urge-to-do-housework” drug), but because I needed a place to store my latest Christmas gifts. Cleaning the closet is an annual tradition because I have to get rid of some of the old stuff before I can cram in the new stuff.

So there I was, digging into the dark and mysterious depths of the unknown, pulling out empty Christmas boxes, bags of bubble wrap, assorted Barbie dolls, 5-lb. wrist-weights and a heating pad (to use after you wear the 5-lb. wrist-weights), when I found, hidden in a box way back in the corner, a treasure that I hadn’t seen in 40 years.

It was my old Beatles scrapbook.

I grabbed it, then sat down on the edge of the bed and took a trip into the past, page by page. The scrapbook was in terrible shape; loose pages, very yellowed and torn, with pieces of dried-up cellophane tape falling out of it like confetti.

On the first page was a drawing I had done of George Harrison, my favorite Beatle and the love of my life, back when I was 14. The drawing made him look as if he’d been the victim of a terrible accident. His nose was off-center, one eye was higher and a lot smaller than the other, and his teeth looked like a picket fence. The famous Beatle haircut didn’t look too bad, though. Not only had I personally signed my masterpiece, I had entitled it, “My Future Husband.”

I cringed when I looked at the next 10 pages. I had GLUED about 100 original Beatles trading cards onto them. And if that hadn’t been enough to destroy them, I’d written comments in ink on each one, like; “Is that a Booger up in Ringo’s Nose?” or “I Love George’s Tight Pants!”

I remembered how many five-cent packs of bubble gum I’d had to buy to get those trading cards, and how many soda bottles I’d had to collect and cash in for the nickel refund just so I could buy more cards.

Out of curiosity, I set down the scrapbook for a moment and went to my computer to see how much my Beatles cards would be worth today if I had kept them in mint condition.

You know, psychologists say it’s healthy to have a good cry now and then. Well, let’s just say that after I looked up the value of the cards, I was feeling exceptionally healthy. And when I saw that the wrappers from the packs were worth even more than the cards (who on earth kept the wrappers?), I felt even healthier.

The scrapbook also contained dozens of newspaper and magazine clippings…old, falling-apart, mildewed clippings, mostly about George. In one photo, he was wearing an old-fashioned swimsuit, a one-piece striped thing that covered him from the neck to the knees, with snaps down the front. Funny, but I’d never realized before what skinny legs and knobby knees George had. In fact, in most of the clippings, he looked as if he weighed about 135 lbs., soaking wet. He’d looked so much more rugged and muscular to me when I was 14.

In the scrapbook, I even found my original ticket from the State Theater in Manchester for the premiere of the Beatles’ first movie, A Hard Day’s Night. The ticket was large and blue, with the Beatles’ photos on it, along with the date and the name of the movie theater. In magic marker, I had written across it, “Fab movie!”

I groaned. I was tempted to look up the value of that ticket, just to see what it would be worth if I hadn’t destroyed it, but I figured I’d already shed enough tears to boost my health for one day.

My scrapbook abruptly ended with several clippings about George’s marriage to British model, Patti Boyd. In their wedding photo, Patti was wearing a mini dress, white stockings and a big fur coat. In various shades of ink, I had drawn a mustache and warts on Patti’s face, a bushy tail hanging out from underneath her fur coat, and big squiggly varicose veins on her white legs (which were even skinnier and knobbier than George’s).

I closed the scrapbook and smiled. The time had come, I decided, to toss out the musty old thing. But just as I was about to stuff it into the trash bag, I came up with a crazy idea. Just for the heck of it, I’d try putting it up for bid on Ebay. Would anyone want to bid on something that was so old, if they sneezed on it, it would disintegrate into powder? Would anyone want to bid on memorabilia that I and my faithful marking pens had turned into nothing but a collection of graffiti? I was about to find out.

The winning bid was $35.

All I can say is that in the future, if I see that scrapbook being resold on Ebay for about $500, you can bet I’m going to be one of the healthiest people around.