Love at First Sight

Every couple has a “first meeting” story. Some are interesting, some not. If you met the love of your life in junior high, like one of my brother’s did, your story probably isn’t going to hold a crowd in rapt attention. Our story, on the other hand, is one of the best I’ve heard. It happened like this:

As I wrote earlier, I was living in the L.A. area and working for a yacht broker in Marina del Rey. My boss went bust and to jail, so one of his managers, Frank, and I, decided to try our hands at a similar business. Frank and I were determined to create a chain of yacht brokerages along the coast of California, specializing in the sale of new and used sailboats in the 30-50 foot range. Our first move was to purchase a struggling broker in Northern California. My job was to move from L.A. to the Bay Area and help get our new acquisition up and running to our standards. The timing for me was good because my girlfriend in Redondo Beach and I were “drifting” apart (to keep with the nautical theme).

Before acquiring the broker in Alameda, we identified a current employee, a salesman in that broker’s office, who we thought would make a good local manager. His name was Mike. So when the time came for me to move north, Mike suggested I move in with he and his girlfriend (now wife) who lived in the Hayward Hills, south of Oakland and about a half-hour commute from Alameda. It was at Mike and Barbie’s house that the adventure began.

Mike and Barbie

Mike and Barbie

Arriving for the first time at Mike and Barbie’s I discovered that I would not be the only guest in the house. Mike’s close friend, Scott, was ensconced in the guest bedroom after a nasty break-up with his long-time girlfriend. So I was introduced to the pull-out couch in the basement of their split-level house, my new home for the next five months.

Mike and Barbie were great hosts, fantastic cooks, excellent conversationalists and would soon become lifelong friends. Scott, on the other hand, was downcast, bitter and a little off-putting. He was a nice enough guy, but he just couldn’t stop talking about the woman who had left him at the proverbial alter. Or, in Scott’s case, at the engagement party he had planned for the night he proposed. Whoops!

Every night at dinner Scott would whine about how bad he’d been treated. Sometimes it seemed that he’d been tortured by a professional sadist. I exaggerate slightly, but you get the picture. He wasn’t over her and instead of accepting defeat and moving on, he’d decided to demonize her. Now, one of the big problems with this is that Mike and Barbie remained close to Scott’s ex. So listening to Scott’s rant night after night wore on everyone’s nerve to the point that Barbie finally forbade Scott from mentioning her name. Silly? Kind of. But the whole thing was getting out of hand.

I know all the talk had an impact on me because, after volunteering to help Scott retrieve his giant TV (1990 huge), I found myself getting nervous as we approached her house. I’d never seen her and I knew from Barbie that this woman was not the wicked witch of the west, but still, when I heard her yell at Scott that day, the hair on my neck stood up. Long story short, we wrestled the TV into his little truck and drove off to the sound of an angrily slammed door.  I had no plans of getting any closer than that.

That particular ambition held up until the 8th of July. I had been in Alameda for 3 months, save for the Memorial Day weekend when I drove south on a make up or break up mission with my girlfriend. If I’d had it my way, we probably would have stayed together, but when I arrived I’d found she’d pretty much moved on, even celebrating with a facelift.  So the next month or so had passed kind of sadly but with a lot of work, really good food and significant quantities of beer to see me through.

Back to July 8th. Mike and Barbie had very close friends, Marcie and Derek, who lived in a big Victorian house on the island of Alameda, across from San Francisco and just around the corner from our office. Marcie was a local realtor, who knew everyone, and Derek was a rocket scientist. No kidding. A real live genius who worked at Lawrence Livermore. Derek had a very bad case of psoriasis and didn’t get out much, but they threw great parties, or so I had been told. I wasn’t planning to go to this one, a late 4th of July get together, but Mike stopped by the office and wouldn’t take no for an answer.

Marcie and Derek

Marcie and Derek

So about 4pm on the afternoon of July 8th Mike and I walked down Marcie and Derek’s driveway toward the backyard. Coming around the house toward us was Barbie and a little blonde who definitely caught my eye. I think she looked back at me, but at the time I wasn’t sure. I do remember thinking, as we passed the two women, that maybe this party was just the diversion I needed.

By now you’ve probably guessed that the name of Scott’s ex was Lydia. And an hour or so later, standing with a group of people, I introduced myself to the little blonde woman, who by then had caught more than my eye. You guessed it. When she said her name was Lydia I could actually feel my knees weaken.

The rest of that summer was a blur. Lydia and I had a speed-dating courtship, that, as you might imagine, Scott didn’t take well, making my living arrangements more awkward than before. Fortunately, I spent a whole lot less time at Mike and Barbie’s. Right after Labor Day I left for San Diego, on my next assignment. On Halloween Lydia flew to San Diego and I proposed (quite the shock). And two months after that we were married - Friday the 13th of January in the parlor of Marcie and Derek’s Victorian, where we had first met 6 months earlier. My family flew out from the East Coast for the wedding and to meet Lydia for the first time. Mike was my best man and Derek gave Lydia away in one of the most touching moments I’ll ever witness.

After the wedding we packed everything we owned in the trunk of Lydia’s little Beemer, and off we drove to San Diego to live on a sailboat and begin an adventure that I hope will never end. The journey continues…


Mike and Lydia, January 12, 1991

Mike and Lydia, January 12, 1991

The journey continues…

Mike Pontius