The story I am about to tell is absolutely true. No names have been used because I no longer remember the fellow’s name. He is merely Van Guy, now and evermore.
Once upon a time, I had the bright idea to go to a “lock and key” party. Which is not as kinky as it sounds. You’re just assigned a lock [for women] or a key [for men] and you go around the room trying to find the person whose key or lock fits yours [obvious metaphor is painfully obvious] – after which you trade in your lock and key for raffle tickets. One of my coworkers had met her significant other at one of these events, so I thought, what the hell, it’s worth a shot.
At the particular event I went to, trying locks and keys wasn’t an icebreaker so much as a “doesn’t fit? okay, moving on” competitive thing. I chatted with a couple of other women, but that was about it. Until this one guy wanted to stop and talk. He wasn’t my usual type at all, but what the hell, right? He was drinking what looked like a lemon drop instead of a beer, which struck me as an unusual choice for a blond hippie-lumberjack type wearing a hand-knit toque, so my curiosity was reasonably piqued. I figured he must be a hipster.
He was pleasant enough to talk to, as far as small talk goes anyway, and I figured there wasn’t any reason why I shouldn’t have lunch or coffee with him, so I gave him my number. Which I regretted doing not two minutes later, when he revealed his secret. He had said that he was visiting LA from Portland, where he ran a landscaping business, to see if he wanted to move down here — so I assumed he was staying with friends.
You know what happens when you assume, don’t you? You get blindsided with the news that this fellow is not, in fact, visiting friends, but is living in a van down by the river. Or, down by Venice Beach, but same principle, right? He then went on to detail his dream of purchasing a larger van and installing a bed in the back of it. Which, you know… it’s not just the whole “If this van’s a-rockin’, don’t come a-knockin'” thing that bothered me, it’s the fact that he thought this was something worth sharing with someone he just met at a singles event. Are there female van enthusiasts who would be like “HELL YEAH, baby, let’s go!”? Was he hoping to find a woman to take pity on him so he could crash with her instead of living in his van? These are the great unanswered questions of the ages.
Some of you may be thinking that it couldn’t get any worse. Sadly, you would be wrong. He went on to detail his adventures driving from Portland to LA in his van, which included the oh-so-shocking sight of “a white man with a sign asking for money at a freeway onramp” and “a Mexican guy” and “a Chinese guy” stopping to give the man some money. Yep. Behold the hippie lumberjack van-driving racist. It was around that time that I made my excuses and escaped to find the other women I had been talking to — both of whom were equally horrified and baffled as to how Van Guy would think that was an anecdote worth repeating.
Sadly, I didn’t meet anyone else at the event, and I headed home hoping that Van Guy had gotten the hint when I completely avoided him for the rest of the evening, but nope. He called me not once but TWICE in the following days. I deleted his voicemails unlistened-to, and fortunately he didn’t persist. I don’t know what happened to Van Guy, but I imagine him driving all along the West Coast, seeking a Van Girl to join him on his adventures. Godspeed, Van Guy, and thank you for giving me a truly excellent “WTF” story to add to my repertoire.