This is an old story. So my old readers can just ignore it instead of telling me “Hey, haven’t we seen this before?” I tell you this story because my friend Melodi and I were talking about breakups today, and how both of us always have to be the dumper, not the dumpee. But there was one time, one terrible, agonizing time, when the guy actually dumped me.
The summer of ‘79 I dated this guy we’ll call Dave. It wasn’t a very deep relationship. We just enjoyed each other’s company and had some fun together, but we both knew we were just biding our time until something else came along.
We went to the beach a lot. I hated the beach, but sacrificed for Dave because he had this notion that he was a surfer dude and surfer dudes belonged with the sea and sand.
We drove to the beach each day in Dave’s van. Remember, this was the late 70′s. Vans were cool back then. No, not Ford Econoline vans borrowed from your father’s flooring business, but custom vans, the kind with a bed and beaded curtains and a bitchin’ portrait of unicorns – or maybe it was the cover of a Steve Miller album – painted on the side.
Dave loved his van as much as he loved the surf. He doted on that thing as if it were the hottest chick in the world and she was going to give him a blowjob every time he bought her something. Every Saturday morning he would go to the custom van shop and spend more money on his masterpiece; some new pinstriping, etchings on the windows, another mural, more beads and incense.
One side of his van had a flying unicorn. I think, anyhow. It might have actually been a portrait of Duane Allman. The other side of the van was dedicated to the beach and getting high. Tasty waves, a cool buzz. Surf, sand and Columbian Gold all air brushed with exquisite precision. It was psychedelic, man. Like a car with tattoos.
The inside of the van was treated with even more reverence than the outside. The floor was carpeted and taken up mostly by a queen size mattress made pretty with a blanket crocheted in the twenty colors of the acid-trip rainbow. The beaded curtains separated the front of the van from the back, so whatever Dave’s friends were doing to their girlfriends while Dave was driving them around remained private. There were velvet posters on the walls and a mirrors on the ceiling and pink champagne on ice. No, not really. But it was gaudily decorated in a theme I like to call sex-me-up. Gauche, decadent and, when you are 17 and dating an older guy, kind of creepy.
So one day we arrive back home after a day at the beach and Dave turns around to me and says very nonchalantly:
I think we should stop seeing each other.
I can’t really date anyone right now.
Ok, that’s cool and all, but umm…kind of out of nowhere?
Honestly, I didn’t care one way or the other. Dave and his van obsession was starting to grate on my nerves and he was pushing too hard to get me to “ride his mattress” as he put it. Yes, he used that phrase.
Well, I have my reasons. And it’s not because you don’t put out.
Dude, that mattress is skanky. I wouldn’t lay down on that thing even if you put fifteen blankest on top of it. I’m sure I saw things crawling on it.
Yea, well, Brad’s girlfriend has crabs.
So what’s the deal then? Why are you dumping me?
I just don’t think it’s fair to you. I’m really devoted to my van. That’s what I want to spend my money on and my time with..
Insert stifled giggle here.
Me: Your van? You are dumping me for your van?
Dave: Yes, I wanted to be honest with you about it. And fair.
Me: My god, your nobility is bringing tears to my eyes.
Dave: Do you always have to be so sarcastic?
So Dave dumped me for his van. I still hung out with him, though. Every Saturday I would go to Dave’s house to check on the progress he was making with his wife/van. One day I got to his house and the van was gone.
Me: Where’s the van?
I sold it to Keith.
WHAT? How could you? I thought you loved that thing?
It’s this chick I’ve been seeing. She said it was either her or the van.
I’m guessing this chick rides the mattress.
Somewhere in there is a lesson.