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Heart Attack

Page 3 of 6

Sue Ennis Recognized the girl in the picture right away. There she was, on the front page of the second section of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, under the headline 5 BEATLE LETTER WINNERS. It was Ann Wilson, holding her first prize, a Revere "Magic Eye" camera. Ann Wilson! That strange girl who sat a few seats away in German III Class, who never talked to anybody. Sue had been watching Ann all term. She carried her books funny, under her arm instead of up against her chest like the other girls at Sammamish High School, and she didn't have any friends, and didn't seem to care. Sue was a loner too, but she kept up a couple of phony friendships with girls you hang out with just so people don't think you're a total zero. Ann didn't bother with that, and Sue respected her for it. And she was into the Beatles! Sue decided that she had to make contact with Ann. But she would have to be very cool.

The next Monday, after German, Sue sauntered by Ann's desk, humming a Beatles tune. Nothing obvious – the sitar riff from "Love You To" – something only another true believer would recognize. No reaction. Sue pulled a desperate move and started beating out the rhythm with her fingertips on her loose-leaf notebook. Dum dum dum! Finally. Ann looked up.

"So, you're into the Beatles," she said, yawning.

"Yeah," Sue twirled a strand of hair around her index finger, pretending to be bored.

"I suppose you didn't get to see 'em."

"Left mezzanine, thirtieth row, third seat in."

"What didja wear?"

They sat in the cafeteria together next period and didn't stop talking long enough to eat lunch. Ann had a younger sister, Sue found out, and they played guitar in their own folk group. Ann thought the Moody Blues' Justin Hayward was supercool, and she had a crush on that weird-looking transfer student with the British accent who Sue had been mooning after for months.

That afternoon, Sue ran home from the bus stop, clutching her books under her left arm. There was someone else!

It was in many ways a classic adolescent girls' friendship: the shared confidences, the private jokes, the neatly pulled-off capers. "Nance and Sue and I built a protective wall that we lived behind," Ann remembers. "An exclusive society with its own language and its own culture." They called each other Connie – pronounced Cah-nee in a mock little-girl voice – because the name summed up everything they hated about the super-straight high-school girls they couldn't, and wouldn't, become. They broke rules: once they stuffed Nancy, who was underage, into the trunk of Sue's Mustang to sneak her into a drive-in showing the R-rated Candy.

But because this was the suburbs, and because it was the late Sixties, the fantasy world they shared had an added dimension. "We were physically here," Ann explains, sweeping her arms to indicate the tract-home landscape outside her parents' house. "But most of the time we lived out there." "Out there" was "swinging London," go-go boots, Yardley green eye shadow. "Out there" was grass and LSD. "Out there" was also music.

They played and wrote songs constantly, moody evocations of late-adolescent alienation. "Sensitive in the suburbs," Ann jokes now, a little sheepishly. "I guess it seems funny to be writing songs like that when most of what you've been doing so far in your life is sitting in your room."

In 1968, Ann and Sue graduated from Sammamish High School, and it all changed. Sue, the girl who had always kept a few "socially acceptable" girlfriends, who always did well in class, decided to leave Bellevue and go away to college. The triumvirate was broken, at least temporarily.

Ann Wilson, the loner, had other ideas.

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