Swimming With A Beatle
By Mike Petrie
Though George Harrison was several years older than me, and technically not even a member of our boomer generation, he was certainly one of our generation's greatest icons. I loved his music and his passing has greatly saddened me, as it has much of our generation. We seem to be getting to an age when our icons are beginning to drop like flies. The Grim Reaper may not be quite knocking at our Baby Boomer doors just yet, but he is clearly starting to sniff around the neighborhood.
At the risk of sounding like some overtly traitorous Boomer within a generation that swooned to the Fab Four, the Beatles were not my absolute favorite band. I preferred the Stones and the Doors, but I liked the Beatles a lot and bought nearly all their albums. The spring of 1966 I purchased the Rubber Soul album (I once had a girl, or should I say she once had me . . .) and to this day, it remains among my favorites. I remember buying Sgt. Pepper in 1967 and thinking it was the most innovative album I'd ever heard. The Beatles were truly great, of this there can be no doubt. I was devastated when John Lennon was killed . . . and now George has passed on to his ultimate reward.
I met George Harrison in person once, ever so briefly. It was when I lived in Hawaii, on the island of Maui. George lived there, too. The year was 1987, and here's what I wrote in my journal about it at the time:
"I took the dogs swimming in the famous Sacred Pools near Hana. Bosco, my indefatigable aquatic canine, loved jumping from the rocks high above the pools and swimming under the cascading waterfalls. There was a fellow there in the water who, watching Bosco's athletic antics, commented in a heavy British accent: That's quite some dog you have there. A Springer Spaniel, isn't he? English like me. He laughed heartily at his own joke. I laughed along and confirmed that he was correct about the breed, adding that Bosco often barked with a cockney accent.
We continued conversing. He was a friendly Brit, a few years older than I, with really long graying hair and beard that floated atop the water while his body remained submerged. He looked a good bit like some sort of hairy crocodile with only his nose and eyes above water much of the time. In hindsight, it occurs to me that perhaps he kept his face submerged to keep from being recognized. I later learned that this woolly amphibious Brit was none other than ex-Beatle George Harrison! At the time, I had absolutely no idea that I was talking with one fourth of the most famous Rock band in history! As it turns out, Mr. Harrison lives just a short distance from the Sacred Pools and swims there frequently. I'm sure I'll never forget the day I swam with a Beatle!"
Although George Harrison was known as "the quiet Beatle," he's the only Beatle I ever had a conversation with. He, as well as his fellow band-mates, seemed absolutely immortal to me. However, when the heroes of our youth begin to die, it really hits home that these folks actually are mere mortals, like us.
Mike Petrie lives in Laguna Beach, California. He is a lawyer, freelance writer, and exceptionally lucky swimmer.