For the good of the permanent public record, and expose the unreliability of human memories that aren't mine, I will be presenting a series of "How We Met" tales about various prominent figures in my life. First up in this series is Miss Kristen Larson.
Though Ms. Larson and I grew up just one street away from one another in Pleasant Hill, and though I'd even been inside her house once - I think Ian Macdonald was feeding her dog Roxie for a weekend or something - our paths did not cross until seventh grade, my first year at Valley View Middle School. I was a recent refugee from Sequoia Middle School, preoccupied with my burgeoning musical theater career and my inability to peg my pants. My voice had not yet changed (hence, I could still use "career" and "music" together in a sentence without having to make finger quotes in the air, or endure derisive snorts from the general public) and I stood an impressive 4'10". Kristen was pretty much the same height she is now.
It was probably late October when Kristen finally spoke to me. She had seen me, or thought she'd seen me, in a production of "Mame" at the RCA in Walnut Creek. I played a newsboy, a Southern fox hunt-type boy, and, in the play's final scene, a little boy named Peter. I wore a turban, did a salaam, and got to say, "Life's a banquet, and most poor sons of bitches are starving to death!" (Note: Even at age 12, this didn't feel like swearing) This was the pinnacle of my performing career to date, surpassing my dual role as Simpleton and a shoe-making elf in "I Believe in Make-Believe." Kristen was duly impressed.
She stopped me as I was leaving Ms. Irwin's science class.
"Can I talk to you?" she asked. Given that she was nearly a foot taller than me, and could have squashed me like a bug, and I had no friends, I acquiesced to her request.
She began to speak in what I later knew as Classic Kristen style, like a beta version of the constantly-flirtatious low purr that she currently brandishes.
"I went out with my parents this weekend, and we saw a very good play called 'Mame'..."
"I was in that!" I blurted out.
Kristen paused. She furrowed her brow. Her look said, "Really? You were in it? What a weird coincidence that I would talk to you for the first time, ever, about a play I saw with my parents that had nothing at all to do with you." Maybe it didn't say that out loud, but it said it in the important place, my own mind.
She took a deep breath and continued. "Yes. Yes you were. Anyway, I wanted to tell you I thought it was very good."
Or something like that. I was hyperventilating pretty bad by then. Very nearly sweating through my "Bart Simspon: Underachiever And Proud Of It" t-shirt.
I muttered a thank you, and then we both stood there awkwardly for a few seconds. Then I walked away.
And we've been friends ever since!