Dealbreaker: He Fell Asleep Under a Van Dealbreaker: He Fell Asleep Under a Van

Dealbreaker: He Fell Asleep Under a Van

by Liz Mamont Taylor Jenkins Reid

March 16, 2012

Dating in Los Angeles was never easy. For two years, my dry spell was broken only by crushes on unavailable men and old flames from out of town. I would have worried about my virginity growing back if that were medically possible.

Then a friend of mine emerged from a breakup and joined me in L.A. singledom. But while I sat at home Netflixing Lost in my pajamas, she was out having one-night stands and flings with bartenders. She had embarked, she informed me, on what she referred to as a "World Tour." She had to make up for lost time, she said. She needed to sow her wild oats. After another forgettable Saturday evening, I decided I needed to arrange a World Tour of my own.

I soon learned that having more sex would actually require me to change my behavior—namely, to lower my standards. If a guy asked me out and he wasn't that cute, I gave him a chance. If he seemed a little stupid, I went for it anyway. I had learned by example to talk to strangers and wear tight pants. Soon enough, my dance card was full.

So when I met a friend of a friend at a baseball game one warm summer night and he seemed a little crazy, it didn't stop me from flirting. And when he walked me to my car and kissed me, I kissed him back.

We traded a series of flirty texts. Then, "You up?" blinked on my phone at 3 a.m.

I was up.

Could he come over?

He could come over.

One night turned into two, and soon, he and I were telling each other our deepest secrets. Unfortunately, his were weird. Also, I started to notice that he was often drunk. And he kept offering me things he’d stolen from work. Then, he got kicked out of his apartment for "lighting a small fire." I ignored the signs. Signs were not to be heeded on the World Tour. Besides, he was making it happen for me on the regular. If I was going to have a standard, that seemed like an important one. 

One Friday, I was heading to a gay club with some friends and decided to invite him. He had never been to a gay bar before, but seemed up for it. We had a few beers at my place and met up with friends for a few more. When we got to the club around 11, I figured the night had just begun. As I headed out to the dance floor, he told me he was going to the bathroom. I expected him back any minute.

Minutes turned to a half hour, and there was still no sign of him. I asked if anyone had seen him. Nope. I texted him. No answer. I walked around towards the bathroom. Nothing. I scoped the outdoor smoking patio. I stalked the perimeter of the club. He was gone. Disappeared. As I stood in the middle of the club, Britney thumping so loud I couldn’t think, the smoke machine clouding my sight and lungs, the drinks from earlier in the night hit their peak. I broke into tears. I had never been the drunk girl crying outside of the club before, but now, I was sobbing for a drunk klepto- and pyromaniac. "Where is he?" I cried. "Is he okay?"

Drunk, confused, and sad, I went home and I tried to go to bed. Just as the sun was coming up, my phone rang.

"Where are you?" he said.

"Where am I?” I replied. “Where are you?”

"Chill out," he said. "I'm walking back. How do I get to your place?"

I told him to stay put. I would come find him. When I finally located him standing on a street corner, nowhere near the bar or my apartment, I couldn't for the life of me figure out why I even cared. I didn't even like this person.

"What happened?" I asked.

"I stepped outside and saw this van parked in front, so I decided to sleep under it."

"What?" I asked, as if the situation could somehow be clarified into reason.

Nope. "I took a nap under the van."

I pressed on: "You realize you could have been killed?"

"I figured I'd hear them start it and I could move."

"Did you?"

"No,” he shrugged. “They must have drove right over me."

I let him sleep in my bed that night because he wasn't in any condition to drive. As he lay there, snoring and reeking of fuel, I stared at him wondering how I'd sunk to this point. But I knew how. I had compromised quality for quantity, and it had led me straight to a man who views parked vehicles as prime napping shelters.

After he left the next morning, I stopped returning his calls. I ran into him at a sushi bar a few weeks later and told him I was seeing someone else. I wasn’t. The World Tour was over. I'd raised my standards back to their proper place, high enough to wait for a man who could stay awake during our entire date. I found one a few months later, and married him. He has yet to fall asleep under a single motor vehicle. 

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Dealbreaker: He Fell Asleep Under a Van