When I lived on West 71st Street I used to see John Lennon at the local 24-hour deli, buying cigarettes and odd things. I never spotted him during the day . . . only late at night, after my orchestra rehearsals. We made eye contact one night, as he glanced from under his cap at the violin case that was strapped over my shoulder.
John Lennon and I shared a few cubic centimeters of common ground for conversation. You may say I'm a dreamer, but, hey -- we were both musicians, living in the same neighborhood, keeping odd hours, making midnight deli runs. Did it really matter that he was one of the Beatles and I . . . wasn't?
Yeah, it mattered. I was SO in awe, and trying to hide it.
Imagine if I'd told John Lennon the truth -- that he was responsible for the violin I carried into the deli that night? That, as a child, I'd started studying the violin as part of my obsession with a Beatles song -- Eleanor Rigby -- which featured the most awesome double string quartet in popular musical history?
That would have been a full circle moment. For me, at least.
I almost talked to him that night . . . but decided not to. I just smiled at him and walked out the door. It didn't seem fair to invade John Lennon's privacy with stories about how a strange woman in a deli became a violinist.
But, going forward, there would be a lot more to be thankful for.
If I ran into Lennon tomorrow, on his 70th birthday, I'd thank him for being the best friend a puzzlemaker could ever have. In the puzzle world, his wife is more popular than he is, and he'd probably love it.
"Mr. Lennon -- thank you, thank you, thank you . . . for marrying Yoko Ono!"