Lovely Rita meter maid,
Nothing can come between us,
When it gets dark I tow your heart away.
Standing by a parking meter,
When I caught a glimpse of Rita,
Filling in a ticket in her little white book.
In a cap she looked much older,
And the bag across her shoulder
Made her look a little like a military man.
How can you live in America, be named Rita, and have never heard “Lovely Rita”?
It was 1979, and I worked at the office of the International Tax Program. (WAKE UP!!!! I’m not gonna talk about tax, I promise.) The ITP was a pleasant place to work part time, as I was in my freshman year of college. The people who worked there were an incredibly kind bunch of folks.
My desk sat right out front in the area immediately inside the doors to the ITP’s offices. My desk was right next to Rita’s, the receptionist.
Naturally from the moment I met her, and from the instant I walked into the doors of the office every day for a year, I could hear the song.
Lovely Rita, Meta Maid …
I often called her “Lovely Rita” which is unlike me, and was even more unlike me when I was 21. I hummed the song and sang it softly all the time. The ear worm lasted the whole year I worked in the office.
My lovely Rita was an older woman – about 40 at the time, which seemed as ancient to me then as it seems young to me now. She’d emigrated from Germany, some years before, and was not at all familiar with English-language pop music.
It was some months after starting to work there that I learned Rita had never heard her own song. How could that be?
Naturally I went home planning to take the record into the office. But I couldn’t find my copy of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Anywhere. It had vanished.
Nobody in the office had it, either. Nor did any of my friends.
I searched a couple of used record stores in Boston, and enlisted the help of my roommate, Elizabeth who was a record-store junky. Somehow, there were no copies of the album anywhere.
Unwilling to be completely defeated, I enlisted some talented friends – folks I’d been performing with in amateur musicals. Together, me, Erik and Terry serenaded Lovely Rita with her song.
We sounded something like this:
Well. Kind of like that.
My friend, my lovely Rita loved it. For the rest of the time I worked there, she would hum along with me when I sang it.
* * *
This is my entry in Knocked Over By A Feather’s Beatles Contest. The rules are pretty simple — tell a story using the lyrics to any one of several Beatles songs: Across the Universe, Baby You’re a Rich Many, Good Day Sunshine, Hey Bulldog or Lovely Rita. Guess which one I chose.
Go and enter. It’s fun.