Dealbreaker: He Fell Asleep Under a Van

Posted by Liz Mamont and Taylor Jenkins Reid

He fell asleep under a van
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.