The Bear

“Wow! Look at this!”

A scoop of cream-colored Mercedes sat curbside at Morning Glory Music. My eye was on its real wood console, fingers caressing the steering wheel.

For two street urchins in Isla Vista nothing was more intriguing than this vintage convertible Mercedes. Nothing, until a brown-eyed, bearded man floated out of Morning Glory carrying an armload of LPs.

The Bear. Instantly recognizable by his smooth baritone greeting, “You like her? Let’s go for a ride!”

We found ourselves up Hwy 101, through Gaviota tunnel, into the hills, and onward, coast bound.

This generous-of-spirit, daring stranger allowed both Monica and I to steer the wheel. “Always cross lanes on a curve, when the force is natural.” (I still use his instructions some 50 years later, careful not to jump the bumps).

Parking at Avila Hot Springs, we felt like we were pulling up to The Ritz. Goleta Girls in 1976 had plenty of beach time, too much time in I.V., so Avila and a Mercedes convertible felt like magic.

Mr. Bear seemingly drank in our enthusiasm as our shared, impromptu afternoon allowed him to show a couple of teenagers a whole new world.

Soaking up the hot springs, watching the sun set “topped” the ride in a Mercedes as his spirit guided us to learn and trust the serendipity of living life to its fullest. A cool guy, and a perfect gentleman.

Anyone, and everyone who has had a chance to be graced by The Bear surely knows the feeling.


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