Two years ago in this space, I set the scene as a three-generation American family sat around its TV set and met the Beatles.
This week, we watch as the Beatles’ cultural influence — the stamp their words and actions would leave on daily American life — starts to sink in and take root.
It starts with a rare thing among these calendar entries: a direct written exchange between two family members.
Usually these entries are declarative statements, almost always by my grandpa. But here we have actual interaction. (This is like an archaeologist finding the Lascaux cave paintings, and discovering that someone had crossed out all the bulls and re-drawn them.)
Something — perhaps two inches of snow, or perhaps a visit by her boyfriend Jess — has motivated my Aunt Elaine to scrawl “YEA” in big blue letters, with a pint-sized “H” added as a humorous coda.
My grandfather, apparently ruffled by such adolescent outbursts, responds, “ERASE THIS IMMEDIATELY!”, with an exclamation point as large as the H in “YEAH” is small. To which my aunt vehemently replies, “NO!”
(And she didn’t erase it, apparently, since here we are 50 years later looking at it under a microscope.)
But the real meat of the story is on the 28th and 29th (and a happy leap year to you, too):
Someone has added two more YEAHs (in their compressed form, YA) to the calendar, turning my aunt’s exclamation into that most topical of phrases: “Yeah, yeah, yeah.”
Who was it? Not my great-grandma. Not my dad, who — as the calendar indicates — was off at college pounding keg beer on Saturnalia.
I’m guessing not my grandma, just because she didn’t write on the calendar that much. And it wasn’t my aunt, because that’s her handwriting asking, “Is this supposed to be funny?”
That leaves my grandfather … and a scenario falls into place nicely. Here’s a father on the old side of the generational divide, gently needling his daughter on the younger side, evoking something she’s crazy about and that he doesn’t get at all. It’s a nice bit of cross-generational interaction.
But, to come back to where I started, the exchange tells us something else. It tells us that the Beatles, just a few weeks after “meeting” most Americans, were already inescapable.
I’m sure there are parents of Justin Bieber or One Direction fans who can’t sing any of their daughters’ favorite songs. My grandpa’s generation had no such choice in 1964, it appears: Like it or loathe it, everyone had the yeah, yeah, yeah chorus in their ears.
There would be more such choruses to come.