can you hear me?

I won the contest, but only second place, so I got a t-shirt and the album for the movie Tommy, but not the tickets to the premiere and invitation to the party afterwards. Like I could have gone to that anyway... wasn't I 12 years old? I was 12 years old, only a 12 year old would have squealed with the sort of Christmas morning delight like I did when my mother told me. We were in the gremlin. She was picking me and Maureen up at Lisa's.

I had every reason to be excited, actually, because the contest was not just the usual pull-the-postcard-out-of-the-box variety, but one of skill. I had to send in a joke. My joke involved a suggestion of inpropriety, but no outright sexual content. I don't know where I heard the joke, but I know it definitely was not one of the ones that my dad used to tell when he'd come back buzzing on Friday night. Those jokes usually had words we couldn't say in front of my mother.

But, like I said, I didn't get tickets to the premiere, so on a cold Friday morning in March, my mother and I, cutting work and school, stood outside the Zigfield theater on a line that wound its way all around the block. My mother and I took turns warming up by going into the lobby of the Burlington Building next door, where a bank of tvs showed Petula Clark singing about the Burlington Look over and over and over again. Petula was everything I'd never be: famous, slender, big-eyed, blond, with a british accent. She must have been from the same planet that spawned Twiggy, Lulu, Edie, Mia Farrow and anyone else who ever wore Mary Quant cosmetics. Making the choice between being confronted with the horrible reality of who I was not and standing on a line in sub-freezing temperatures was probably worse than either actuality.

People on the line began to get a little frantic around 11:30. Many of us had been out there since 9 am being amused by nothing but Petula's dancing visage through the big Burlington windows. Every so often there was shouting: "Hey! There's Pete Townsend!" by someone trying to get people ahead of him off the line.

Around 11:45, we finally filed into the Zigfield and settled into our seats. But all through the movie all I could think of was how to get the Burlington Look.