"EYE OF THE BEHOLDER" - conclusion

      Finally Maxine slowed the pace. And not a moment too soon. We had all been pushing our limits to show off for Mr. Sunshine. Ending the class with a bit of yoga gave Max the perfect opportunity to help him with the proper positions. Her eyes glazed over in a way I'd never seen before, but I recognized it. This guy could be her wish come true. He was secure, athletic, outgoing and he certainly had enough leisure time from the looks of his muscles and suntan. He was probably rich. Maybe he owned a boat, maybe even a yacht. After all, this was Malibu.
      Maxine needed no encouragement and Dreamboat was taking it all in. It was hard to tell what his feelings were. He didn't really respond, but he was quite receptive. So Maxine probed a bit. First she asked him where he lived. He said that he wasn't from around here. he was just passing through -- first up to San Francisco, then on to Calgary, Canada. Max insisted on showing him some exercises to do when he got out of the car at rest stops. He told her that it wouldn't be necessary because he wasn't driving. She assumed he was flying and elaborated that plane seats were just as bad. When he said he wasn't flying either, Lonni guessed that he was taking the train. He smiled at her and shook his head slowly from side to side

      Nobody moved. Only Maxine had the nerve to ask how he was going to get to San Francisco and Calgary. he pointed to his feet and demonstrated thumbing a ride. Reality washed over us in waves. Maxine was slow to relinquish the illusion. "Where did you say you lived?" she dared to ask. He replied, "Here and there" with wide-eyed innocence. Frustrated by his answer and not wanting to give up she tried again. "But where's your home base?" With a far away look in his eye, our tall, dark, handsome stranger pointed at his stomach.
      Our initial attraction instantly became aversion. He was to blame for not meeting our expectation. But we tried to keep our reactions to ourselves. After all, we were the ones who painted the false portrait of him.
      Nothing more was said. And when the class ended everyone hurried out ignoring him. He didn't notice at first. He was busy getting a shirt out of his backpack on the front steps. A stained sleeping bag lay rolled up and tied with rope, propped against the railing. I glanced at it and heard him ask Lonni if there was any place he could take a shower. She shook her head from side to side and shrugged her shoulders. You'd think he spoke a foreign language. The she ran for the security of her car.
      One by one cars backed out of parking spaces as quickly as possible. When my truck exited the gate I turned to see our phantom hero standing bewildered and alone on the stone steps. He didn't understand what had happened. I don't think we really understood either. That's the way prejudice works.

Carol Hatfield