I do not find the concept of consorting with unknown persons appealing. (Is it for people who have no friends? How do you know the sheets are clean? What is it with people always wanting to get together? What happened to “Never talk to strangers”?) Still, I joined CouchSurfing recently, and I surfed in four cities on seven couches (actually, beds, mostly). Fielding and her husband, Andy Storch (he was out of town on business when I visited), are three-year veterans. “Like most Americans, we have two weeks of vacation, so we don’t get to travel much,” Fielding explained. “If we can’t go to the world, the world will come to us. So, when we’re feeling a little bored, we think, All right, why don’t we have someone from the Netherlands visit? It’s like a blind date where the person brings his toothbrush.” Fielding and Storch, who typically take in guests every month, recently hosted a dumpster-diving couple from Canada and had just said yes to some Australians. (“We’ve never had Australians. We thought we’d check another country off our list.”) And what was the news that Fielding had alluded to when I walked in, intending to spend the night on the latte-colored microfibre pull-out sectional sofa in their living room? “I just came back from the vet,” she said, “and my cat has bladder problems.” I am not a cat person in the most continental of circumstances. “How’s the dog?” I asked of the boxer that was sniffing my suitcase. The dog was fine. And off we went to the apartment of a friend of Fielding’s to watch “The Bachelor” with a group of reality-TV connoisseurs.
- In this week’s issue, Patricia Marx writes about joining CouchSurfing.org and surfing four cities on seven couches (actually, beds, mostly): http://nyr.kr/IngE5E