After everyone went back into rehearsal or off to class, the director introduced me to the lighting designer. Right there, on those steps, in front of that theater. The lighting designer, as you may have guessed, was none other than Michael Chase.
I was not impressed.
He seemed a little arrogant and tried awkwardly flirting with me. He had 90201 sideburns almost to his jawbone (from the original 90210, not the current one), and he was wearing jeans that were waaaay too tight. And, he was four years older than me. Which is a lot when you are 19. I didn't hear angels singing or see stars and rainbows when I saw him. Michael, on the other hand, heard and saw them loud and clear when he saw me.
|The actual paper airplane, saved all these years and recently discovered in a box in the garage.|
I taped it to the wall above my bed while we were engaged, the tape still remains.
I nearly sunk into the ground with guilt. I felt like the world's worst person. I was pond scum. I felt like a stuck up snob who thought she was too good for a guy whose worst fault was he had a bad sense of style. But I didn't know how to make it right, especially since I really didn't want to go out with the guy.
At the time, I was living in a tiny bachelor apartment. A one bedroom unit had opened up, and I decided to move into it. The only downside was it didn't have a refrigerator. Not wanting to go by myself to buy a refrigerator and finding all my friends were in class or otherwise busy, I pulled out the Thank You card from Michael, and dialled the number on the post-it, asking if he'd like to go shopping with me. He was at my door in minutes. He took me to all the major appliance stores, where I didn't find anything in my budget. He also drove me around the South Bay and up to the sea cliffs in Palos Verdes, and around the Lloyd Wright designed Wayfarer's Chapel, stunning in the moonlight. And during this time, we talked. And we talked and we talked and talked some more. We talked about everything. Our childhoods, our passion for the theater, our dreams and hopes and goals. I was stunned to find that we were similar in both large and small things, and that the conversation (once he stopped trying to flirt with me) was easy. Not a single awkward pause. He was a perfect gentleman, opening every door for me, not creepy at all. And he made me laugh, and except for sleep, there's nothing I love to do more than laugh. We literally talked all night, as he drove and drove.
When the sun came up, he finally took me home. I was sad to say goodbye and jumped in the shower to get ready for work. I thought a lot. About Michael, yes, but also about how you can change a person's clothes, but you can't change a person's character. And about how I hated being judged by my looks (if you're a pretty blond, you must be dumb), yet I was willing to turn someone away over long sideburns which can be trimmed. After my work shift at the mall, I bought Michael a long sleeved, button up shirt. A hip and fashionable shirt that didn't scream "I come from the 80's!" like the rest of his clothes. I put it in a box and waited a week to finally give it to him. He also waited a week to tell me that his father owned an appliance store, and he could have taken me there first and gotten a great deal on a refrigerator (which he later did), but he was afraid our "date" would be over if I got a fridge at the first stop.
I was still casually dating a couple other people, and still didn't know how I felt about Michael. As I recall, my main emotion was fear! I'd just gone through a miserable break up. What was I getting myself into? I was taking a theatrical lighting class and doing quite poorly, because it was all math and geometry, subjects I hadn't done well in. So I did what millions of girls before me have done to get a guy to do what they want: I batted my eyelashes and flirted back at Michael, complimenting him on what a great lighting designer he was and would he be willing to help me with my light plot so I could pass my class?
He did. And angels starting singing. And I broke it off with all the other guys. And I went on a real and proper date with Michael (to Disneyland, of course!). And I started seeing stars and rainbows. And four months from the day in that photo, Michael asked me to marry him. And I said yes, so long as we had a long-ish engagement due to the whole only-knowing-him-for-four-months thing (I was wise for 19). And today, though we are on two different continents, we celebrate fifteen incredible years of marriage, during which I have purchased 100% of Michael's clothing. And as our friend Keith promised, I have never for one minute regretted going out with Michael Chase.