Monday through Friday, 7:00 - 7:25 AM, you’ll find me in my recliner, cup of coffee in hand and cat in lap. That’s because I’m addicted to the Today Show, and for those twenty-five minutes of news, Matt, Savannah, Al & Natalie are my friends,
After that, with the show devoted to other stuff, they’re background noise, as I try to get one housekeeping chore or another out of t he way before I go to work.
But last week, my curiosity was stoked by the steadily growing throng of pre-adolescent and adolescent girls staking their claim to Rockefeller Plaza so they’d have prime viewing space to see a band called One Direction – 1D for those in the know. It started out on Monday, exponentially increasing each day, until Friday, the morning of the concert, the hysterical crowd stretched from Fifth to Sixth Avenues and 48 to 50th street with an estimated 18,000 girls filling every square inch and their screams rising up to at least the tenth floor of the office towers penning then in . Mind you – maybe 300 of them might, just might be lucky to get a glimpse of the boy band. But for each girl, being able to add their screams to the other 17,999 was worth it to them
It brought to mind Beatlemania, and I couldn’t help contrast my viewing experience in a much quieter, less connected era. I loved Paul, John, Ringo, and George, (and yes, in that order), but let’s just say I was an armchair fan, making due with watching their three celebrated appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show. “Ladies & Gentleman, Four fine lads all the Way from Liverpool – The Beatles”!!!! And the girls in the audience would scream every bit as frantically as the 1D’ers,
Now, the Ed Sullivan Show was a viewing staple in my house,
but, after sharing the Four Fine Lads with my parents and brothers for their first two appearance, unlike the 1D girls, by the third go round, I was determined to have a solitary viewing . So I quietly slipped away to watch the TV down in the basement room, where at least if I couldn’t scream, I could unabashedly let those tears run down my cheeks. I’ve never figured out why the sight of young rock idols brings forth involuntary tears in adolescent girls.
Don’t ask me why but my father came down a few minutes later. Knowing him, he probably just wanted to keep me company. And what timing! He settled into an armchair just in time for “Ladies, and Gentleman, all the way” etc, etc. Out trotted the Beatles, their hair bouncing and flouncing with every step. They immediately launched into Love, Love me do. (I don’t know how I remember these things - I just do.) Well, they hadn’t even gotten as far as “You know I love you” when Daddy hauls himself out of the chair and marches to the door in a huff, proclaiming over his shoulder as he left the room.
” I can’t watch these sissies with that long hair.” Long hair?” Now I ask you? This is how they looked at the time.
At any rate, Having been raised to be respectful, ( and wanting to live at least fifty more years) I refrained from asking “Who asked you to come down here in the first place?’
Which brings me back to last Friday morning, and 1D. Being curious as to just what kind of hunk of boydom would motivate 18,000 girls ,with fall closing in and with it an end to sleeping late, to get up at God knows what hour to come down and join these seriously die-hard fans who’d been sleeping on the streets of New York for five days, I had to see them, and hoped they’d begin their concert before 8:30 when I’d have to leave for work.
Ah, I was in luck. the screams grew in intensity as I bent over the bathroom sink, brushing my teeth. I straightened up and padded barefoot into the living room, toothbrush in hand, as Matt Lauer, serving for me as a twenty-first century Ed Sullivan, yelled into his microphone, “Here they come, One Direction!’ I grabbed my glasses for a good look as, five young men, in their late teens(?), early 20′S.s (?) in disparate types of out on the street dress, emerged from 30 Rock and bound up on stage. My attention was drawn to one, who had a flannel shirt tied around his waist, a la yours truly when I get hot raking leaves in the fall leaves.
As the cameras zeroed in on him, I took in his scruffy beard, somehow out of keeping with his youthful face, and his carefully trimmed short hair. I turned on my heels and returned to the bathroom. I didn’t say a word, but a thought was resounding in my head, “Short hair! I don’t want to watch this.”
And then the echo of a long ago voice – “Who asked you to come out of the bathroom?”