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Summer Stories, Part V: Van-Tastic

Note: I'm still trying to chill out from yesterday. Spending the morning going through some vicious hate mail and deleting comments that threaten other commenters. I've moved this post to the top just to take the edge off things, until I can get around to making a real post later.

[All I wanted to do was share this one link with you and it turned into a novel]

The summer between my junior and senior years in high school, I dated a guy I'll call Dave.

I dated Dave for a few weeks and while I wasn't falling in love with the guy, we enjoyed each other's company and had some good times together.

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. Now, this was the late 70's. Vans were all the rage. No, not Ford Econoline vans borrowed from your father's flooring business, but custom vans, the kind with beds and beaded curtains.

Dave loved his van as much as he loved the surf. Every Saturday he would go to the custom van shop and add something to his masterpiece; some new pinstriping, etchings on the windows, another mural.

One side of the van was dedicated to the Allman Brothers. The other side was dedicated to the beach. It was psychedelic, man. All the intricate artwork made me think of the van as 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 aforementioned 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 mirror on the ceiling and pink champagne on ice. No, not really. But it was gaudily decorated in the sex-me-up theme so prevalent in that era.

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.
Excuse me?
I can't really date anyone right now.
Ok, that's cool and all, but umm...kind of out of nowhere?

Sure, my ego was crushed, but not for the reason you think. See, I had never had a guy break up with me. I was always the breaker-upper. I considered dating someone while still in high school more of a social activity than anything else. While all my friends were falling deeply, passionately in love at the age of 16, I was just looking for someone to hang out with. The idea of being in a committed relationship while still basically a kid seemed like a joke to me. Haha, funny to break up with all those guys, I know. Some joke. Ok, I''ll be really honest here: The first time any guy tried to get to first base with me, I dumped him. I was too self centered to care about some teenage boy's hormones.

Anyhow, crushed ego.

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 promised me the moon. Which you did, by the way, and never followed through.
Yea, well. I didn't have a long enough ladder.
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.

Your van? You are dumping me for your van?
Yes, I wanted to be honest with you about it. And fair.
My god, your nobility is bringing tears to my eyes.
Do you always have to be so sarcastic?

So Dave dumped me for his van. I still hung out with him, though and 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.

Where's the van?
I sold it to Keith?
WHAT? How could you? I thought you loved that thing?
Barbara (his new girlfriend) said it was either her or the van.
I guess Barbara puts out.

Somewhere in there is a lesson.

[the link that spawned this memory. Somewhere in my archives are other summer stories, which I'll categorize some day]


Quite a large amount of freetime that this guy must have.

I'm in love with my carrr, Got a feel for my automobile....


How in the world did you find a link to this? I've been down some strange alleys on the internet, but finding the "Neverending Story Van"? No way.


Dave's not here, man.

"Oh, Lawd...
Somethin' gettin' wrong
With my little machine
You know she got a standard
But my baby been burnin' bad gasoline..."

__ Sonny Boy Williamson

Okay, so cooper beat me to that Queen quote.

Anyway, they say men have a center in the brain that recognizes faces and automobiles, with more emphasis on the latter. I don't know what the lesson is either, but I can't help wondering how the van felt about all this.

Does Barbara have a blog?

"Surfer dude"? Having had an aunt and uncle in San Diego and an aunt and uncle in Massapequa Park (both of which I visited in the late 70s), I can tell ya that "Dave" and his friends were fooling themselves. Granted, it's probably tougher to surf at Jones Beach than at Mission Beach, mainly because ... the waves suck!

I'm surprised your parents let you go out with a guy with a van... I got in trouble when I went out with a group in a custom van, AND I WAS A GUY!

Wasn't their a late 70s classic bad movie about a drive-in where the "bad guy" had a van with a water bed? It was the classic story (oft repeated in the "Brat Pack" 80s) of the semi-geek, unpopular guy stealing the beautiful, but nice, girlfriend of the super popular, but jerky, guy.

I think it was Corvette Summer, the Mark Hammil flick, that had a femme fatale who showed him her van with a waterbed in it. She showed him that it had "ocean motion", a concept that completely scarred my ten(?)-year-old mind.

But I got better.

I'm not that Dave...but I'm often not here...

That's yet another great story, Michele.
I may as well give up on the whole blogging thing - I just don't have any stories that good to tell, even if I were any good at telling them. ;-)