Penthouse Retrospective

by John Green Originally Published: July, 1983

John Lennon and Yoko Ono

As he talked I sorted and shuffled the cards. When he finished, I laid them out in a spread that was designed to answer a how-to question. “You said that May was hired. That means you paid her?”


“And what you want to do is communicate to her without writing to her or telling her that you are not going to see her again?”


“You ’re still paying her, aren’t you?”

“Well, the office is.”

“As long as you continue to pay her, she has to expect that you want something. If you don’t want anything from her, stop paying her.”

“You mean fire her?”

“‘Lay off ’ might be a better phrase,” I answered, unsure how he would respond to the idea.

“That’s brilliant! Fire her! That ’s fuckin ’ brilliant! That tells May it’s over, it makes Yoko feel secure, and it lets me off the guilty hook! That’s great!”


“John’s impossible,” Yoko confided one sunny afternoon in late June, as we sat at the kitchen table for one of our frequent sessions. “He watches me all the time. If I go to the toilet, he follows me. He’s afraid I’m stuffing myself with garbage but I’m not. I just need to eat more now.” She was eating a fistful of chocolate.

“But you’re the one who insisted that you keep a strict macrobiotic diet.”

“I know, I know, but every once in a while I need a little change.” I lit her cigarette. “I think it’s healthy to have a little variety. I think John is just trying to upset me because he doesn’t want the baby.” This was a constant theme.

“He wants the baby, and you know it. Why are you investing so much negativity in this event? Be joyous!”

“You know very well why. It ’s because this baby has to be perfect. This baby is going to change the world. If a messiah were going to be reborn today, he would choose rock stars as parents so he could have access to the media. Everything is perfect for a new prophet. It’s the right time and we are the right parents. Everything we are doing is perfect: exercises, meditation, diet. I just hope the baby isn’t retarded. You want to read on that again?”

“Yoko, we always read on that! There is no reason to suspect that you will have anything other than a perfectly normal baby.”

“Normal?” She sounded hurt. “Our baby can’t be normal! We would hate a normal baby! No, she has to be perfect.”


“Now don’t be stubborn, Charlie. I know that you said ’a boy ’ but this time the messiah has to be a woman. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Last time a man, this time a woman. That’s the economy of the universe.”

“A retarded lady messiah?”

“I don’t think that is anything to laugh about.”

“You have been tested by your doctor and you passed.”

“I’m getting another doctor. He won’t believe me about the baby. He insists that there is nothing wrong. And he humiliates me! He says I have to be careful because of my age! That’s very insulting.”

“Then why not try a woman doctor?”

“Because they’re no good. Now I have some names I want you to check so we will get a good doctor this time.” She reached for the phone. “Yes, I want you to bring me some tea, and some noodles, and an orange… What?… No! No honey-sugar is bad for you, you know.” Then she had some chocolate while she waited for her snack.

A compelling view from a unique perspective on a rock music icon and the absurdities that surround him.

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