Many singles go to bars to meet people. I went to the 6 o’clock Friday tea dances at the Hyatt Regency and met many very good dancers and enjoyable companions. The Hyatt hired a big Glen Miller style dance band, broadcast it live on the local FM station and used the hotel lobby for a dance floor.
The place to go for relationships was the Singletarians at the Unitarian Church on Monday evenings. Just show up and get a nametag with some coded symbols on it. Someone would call out a symbol such as ‘star’ and you and the rest of the stars would go to a discussion room and talk about the subject of the evening. This gave the participants a chance to size each other up and challenge ideas. After a while all the groups would go back to a large reception room and share refreshments and chat. Those who wanted to chat a little longer would meet at Tommy’s Joynt for coffee or wine.
This is where I met many people including Jackie and Eva.
I started seeing Jackie who was about my age, but I never knew for sure how old she was. She was an advertising copy writer for Mervins. When she discovered my photography skills she proposed we write some articles together. We did one article on the Haight Ashbury after the flower children and another on the psychics of San Francisco; which were published in the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday supplement. We tried to get People magazine to front us for the Ugly Dog Contest in Petaluma and were turned down only to meet another photographer who had been hired by People in LA to scoop us. We sold our two page version to PSA In-flight magazine. People magazine only made it a two inch item with no picture.
After about two years, at the beginning of June 1981, I decided to go back to the Singletarians a couple of times for another look. I just walked back into the chat room and saw someone who looked familiar. She looked a little like my daughter Dee. After I talked to her I found out she was 18 months older than my daughter and had the same last name, Castle. Dee had married Tom Castle, but Castle was Eva’s maiden name. This was a coincidence that did not go unnoticed by a lot of people. We started dating on Monday nights and that was the last I saw of the Singletarians except for one other time when Eva was out of town. As time went on, we added another week night and then a third. Three days a week plus Jackie on the weekends was too intense so Eva went back down to Mondays.
My schedule of activities was full and it was only a matter of time before there was a three day weekend and I had problems coordinating with Eva day. It was President’s weekend, Valentine’s Day, and Jackie’s birthday, all rolled up together. I had been urging Eva to call me and since we didn’t have to work on Monday I had asked her if we could get together starting Sunday evening. She was busy but her plans were cancelled. So, on Eva’s first ever phone message to me, she left a messaging saying, “My plans have changed so if you want to start our Monday on Sunday night, call me.” Saturday evening I came back to the apartment with Jackie and listened to my messages. Jackie was devastated. I was betrayed by my answering machine. I had explained to Jackie in the past that I was seeing other people and not to be jealous; which she accepted as a non-threatening issue, but apparently the message she heard was one of a more serious threat. Seeing different people is one thing, but after two years of being a primary relationship—seeing each other every weekend, finding out about another regular relationship was like a betrayal to her. Jackie’s reaction caused me to rethink the whole idea of multiple relationships, especially with her.
The next couple of months were rocky and stressful so I decided to simplify my life. After a polite evening out, I gave Jackie back her house key and she, being shocked by that, returned mine. A couple of days later, Eva called me and said she needed some time off. I was without a relationship. I waited. My ‘open relationship’ world had come unraveled.
One day Eva called back, and we began a gradual process to build trust. Soon we would be living together in one apartment and making plans for the future.
Jackie and I had been patrons of the arts in that we ushered at the opera house and occasionally at the Golden Gate Theatre. Ushering at the opera house was like being a doorman in a big hotel. You don’t just walk off the street and do it, you have to be introduced to the usher manager and try out before you are invited to usher (for free). When I split up with Jackie I thought that Eva and I would enjoy the evening out for entertainment and so we started ushering on a different night than Jackie. I hadn’t counted on Willie Nelson ever coming to a venue like the opera house. You guessed it, we all wanted to come the same night and did.
I then learned that Jackie had a dark side that I could not contend with. Her snide comments and hard looks were very hostile. Any future contact between the two of us would lead to pain for one of us.