Matt White was tall, lean and had bouncy brown hair that looked like the young athlete Bruce Jenner. His mannerisms were soft and graceful. Speaking to him always put me in a state of self-conscious blubbering instead of adult understandable language. Nervous is not what I was, I was frozen in the idea that whatever I said at that moment would have me appear a total idiot. You are what you think you are and around Matt White I was an idiot.
I met Matt during a personal growth/experiential learning course in 1980. I was 21 and he was 24 years old. The course was held in a hotel ballroom in San Francisco and attendance was around 400 people. I spotted Matt the first night and continually noticed where he sat. I was never brave enough to sit near him. I viewed myself as a pretty but fat girl that nobody of his Adonis would remotely be interested in. Each day I kept my distance but positioned myself to be able to view him. It was like stalking before social media allowed you to do it privately.
On the third day of the class, the exercise was to pick a person in the room that you did not like and get to know them. We were all lined
up around the walls of the room and told to go directly to a person you did not like. Interesting enough, the person I picked also picked me. It was if we made a bee line for each other. We were instructed to go to lunch together, get to know each other on more than a visual judgement level.
Her name was Karen; she was 43 and very lively. When you are 21, 43 feels kind of old but Karen had the spirit of a much younger person. As we got to know each other during that hour lunch we found that we were very similar. We liked the same kind of music, food, and even
laughed at the same things. The oddest thing that connected us was when Karen spilled her water and claimed, “I did not do that.” That was my tag line. My consistent need to not be responsible for my actions drove my roommates crazy. We were both amazed at how similar we were. Suddenly this person whom I had noticed for 3 days and made judgements about was now my friend.
The next day the class was once again lined up against the walls and now we had to pick a person whom we were attracted to. Okay, my brain went into frenzy. I had to pull courage from the bottom of my feet to do it. I made myself walk directly to Matt.
I was not the only one attracted to Matt. Karen was right there with me. We laughed how funny that was and again how much we are alike. What I did not know, before this time was that Karen was Matt’s girlfriend. She never mentioned him at lunch and I certainly didn’t either. Some relief swept over me for not divulging that secret.
If you attended this class with a friend or family member you were not allowed to sit or hang out with them so that you each would experience the course fully. I suppose this is why I never, not one time saw them even look at each other. I would have noticed too as I was pretty much fixated on, without being creepy where Matt was most of the time.
Matt, Karen, and I, the usual third wheel went off to lunch together. The lunch was actually nice. They were not lovey dovey and perhaps it was awkward for them too. Here is this girl, me, who pretty much just hit on this guy who is my new friend’s boyfriend. It seemed like some kind of hidden camera show. I imagined Alan Funt would appear and tell me I was on Candid Camera. As we ate our lunch and visited I kept wondering about the age difference between them so I asked how they ended up together. Karen was Matt’s mother’s hairdresser and his mother introduced them. They had been dating for 6 months. Karen, in line with my life’s motto blamed Matt’s mother. It wasn’t her fault, she didn’t do it. Matt’s mother must have been this cool hip mom that was not your mom but your friend. My mom is my mom, friendly yes but I would never let her fix me up on a date, especially with someone her age. I didn’t think my mother would even approve of my dating someone that far out of my generation.
The class ended and we all said our goodbyes, went on with our lives. I continued to take more courses from this company and so did Matt. I never did see Karen again nor did I ask about her either. Matt and I became acquaintances at events and social gatherings but nothing ever transpired. I had seen the type of girls he picked without his mother’s input a few times and I didn’t fit the mold.
Move time forward about 6 months. There was a party of some sort in San Francisco at a nightclub. I went with my friend, Pat Beck. Pat was in her forties. She was divorced and on the prowl all of the time. If Pat wasn’t oogling, googling or prodding some man she was talking about sex. She was a registered nurse, had an adopted son with severe cerebral palsy and had a very nasally Erkelesque voice. I don’t recall where I met her or when was the last time a saw her, but I do remember she was always fun to hang out with and ate mustard with French fries. On this evening she and I were sitting at the bar of the nightclub. Tall bar stools that swiveled around. I was wearing a beautiful purple wrap around dress that I bought at Emporium Capwells and mauve Candie stiletto heel shoes that strapped completely around your ankles. I was looking good and knew it. I wasn’t conceded that evening, I was convinced. That rush of confidence could have also been because Pat and I had thrown caution to the wind and were not sipping like ladies, but slamming Kamikazes.
Matt was there that night. He was dressed in a white shirt that was open to mid chest and white Angel Flight pants. He glowed in the nightclub like an angel and moved with the finesse of John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. We made eye contact and I waived at him feeling brave and super friendly. He came walking towards me, our eyes were locked. The nightclub was not that big but it took an eternity for him to cross the floor space to me. He approached, took my hand and asked me if I would like to dance. It was a dream come true. I smiled casually as to not seem eager, answering a demur “sure.”
My next move is what nightmares are made of.
I was sitting in that tall swivel barstool with my calf enhancing shoes draped over the foot bar on the stool. In my Kamikaze overwhelmed by lust state I forgot I was sitting on a tall chair with my shoes hooked that way and stood up as if I had my feet planted on the floor. My fancy stiletto shoes acted like a gymnast’s hands on the uneven bars and catapulted me face first on the floor. I suppose this is why the drink is called a Kamikaze. The straps to my shoes literally ripped away from the shoe base and just dangled around my ankles like clunky jewelry. The rest of the evening is a blur. I can’t remember dancing with Matt but I am sure I did, shoeless of course. The art of trying to act cool was met with the trauma of knowing I was not.
About the author
Lisa Staggs Lozano
Lisa Lozano was raised in El Sobrante CA and relocated to Sonoma County in 1983. She is married to Lorenzo and they have 2 grown children, Joseph and Melissa. Writing short stories is a hobby along with watercolor and acrylic painting. Her happy place is the Big Island of Hawaii, and her retirement dream is to live there at least 6 months out of the year.