There was a period in my life when I looked just like John Lennon (a coincidence of center-parted hair and round tortoise-shell glasses). Laugh if you like, but it was widely admired at the time.

Every right-thinking woman on two continents liked Paul, including me (I sat through "A Hard Day's Night" four times in an afternoon) but I had a sneakier, grudging affinity for John. He was too fervent, too deliberately irreverent, too cocksure. I knew about that. Calculating, cynical, professional pain-in-the ---, John Lennon was an acquired taste. I knew about that, too.

Bigger than Christ, Lennon said of the Beatles, and he was right. The world was a lot smaller when Jesus was around, and they didn't have stereos.

I lived by the radio in those days. I never turned it off in the car, so it started with the ignition. My radio played all night, was playing when I woke up. I distinctly remember being in the bathtub the first time I heard "She's a Woman" -- I thought it was ungainly, completely arresting and I memorized it instantly.

It was exploration music, music to make out by, music to smoke dope by. We wrote phenomenological analyses of "A Day in the Life." We bought military surplus coats and sewed on bright satin trim or tie-dyed them. We were a community defined by the Beatles -- I get by with a little help from my friends, all you need is love. The Beatles were our talisman, our tenet, our faith.

Now, with Lennon's death, the Beatles are gone as they never were before. John Lennon was 40. It is, perhaps, not a bad thing never to grow old.