John Lennon, I miss you.
This thought drifted through my mind last week as I swung the car around the Plaza in Montauk where, 36 years earlier, I watched as a long black limousine eased to the curb. Out stepped a skinny guy, hair cropped close, clad casually in orange T-shirt, blue jeans, and sandals; and his companion, tiny, long black hair flowing down and around a white kimono that billowed in the April breeze.
I was lucky twice. My parents, thankfully, owned several Beatles LPs and a few 8-track tapes, and I was hooked by age 3. I still recall the day my mother picked me up at nursery school on East 20th Street in Manhattan, and we walked to a record store where she purchased what is popularly called “The White Album.” I used to lie on the floor in our apartment, my head next to a speaker, and listen for hours — in my memory, anyway.
I also had the good fortune to know Rita Gosman. My parents were close with her and her husband, John, and my brothers and I grew up with their sons. When she wasn’t at Gosman’s restaurant, Rita was often at Pospisil Real Estate, there on the Plaza in Montauk. She had tipped us off — on the phone, her son, 8-year-old Chris, excitedly told 9-year-old me that we could meet John Lennon (!) if we waited at the real estate office on Saturday.
In the end, we waited for three consecutive Saturdays, but finally that sleek car rolled up. Later, after they’d driven around town looking at rentals, John signed an autograph for both of us, including quick drawings of a lamb on a cloud, a minimalist self-portrait, and the date, “ ’76.”
John had drifted, lazy like “Sun King” or “I’m Only Sleeping,” into a mind troubled by yet another mass shooting. Six killed, three wounded. This time, a fanatic apparently unable to distinguish between Sikhs and Muslims but, as usual, able to obtain an arsenal of lethal weaponry.
This, barely two weeks after 12 were killed and 58 wounded at a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises,” just a few miles from the site, in 1999, of yet another massacre by firearms. This, three days before another shooter pleaded guilty to last year’s murder of 6 and wounding of 13 in Tucson.
Oak Creek, Aurora, Tucson, Littleton, Virginia Tech, the Upper West Side. Shock, a few calls for stricter gun control. And then, to paraphrase Frost, since we are not the one dead, turn to our affairs.
“What does it mean,” John asked, “when a person is such a pacifist that they get shot? I can never understand that.”
Nor I, John.
Christopher Walsh, a new reporter for The Star, recently returned to the South Fork after 20 years in New York City.