Last November, Salon writer Clara Bensen told a story that was as charming as it was slightly unbelievable, about the time that she and a random stranger that she’d met on OkCupid decided to travel the world together. For her, it seemed like an incredibly bizarre risk, as this man who looked like he’d just auditioned for a role in a Williamsburg production of Curious George could have been a really hip serial killer, for all she knew. For him, it seemed like a really ridiculous effort for an online dating bro to get laid. I mean, did he even try sending dick pics first? Regardless, Bensen named her adventure with Jeff “The craziest OkCupid date ever,” and for once Internet commenters probably didn’t complain about the hyperbole.
Naturally, Bensen’s wild adventure, which had her and Jeff traveling through eight countries over 21 days, all with only the clothes that they wore when they first met, drew the eyes of Hollywood execs who have developed romantic comedies from less. Sure enough, according to Variety, the story was optioned by New Line Cinema in April and now the studio has signed rom-com scribe and Tony Shalhoub lookalike contest runner-up Adam Brooks to bring us… get ready for it… No Baggage.
Brooks has previously penned French Kiss, Definitely Maybe and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, but his greatest work to date, according to me, is 2004’s Wimbledon, which combined my love of underdogs, tennis tournaments, Jon Favreau playing a hapless goon and Kirsten Dunst being pushed as a romantic lead. Rom-coms don’t get much more ridiculous than that. So what about No Baggage? What is Brooks getting himself into?
When tired we surfed on couches, floors, park lawns and a real bed or two. When hungry we grazed on street food, cafe fare and the occasional home-cooked meal. When curious we drifted in and out of crowded bazaars, empty churches, political protests, and ancient ruins. When washing our clothes we wore scarf togas, bed sheets, towels and borrowed T-shirts.
After a few days of wearing the same dress I realized that my initial fears of dire uncleanliness were unfounded. Soap is a fairly universal concept. If I was dirty, I took a shower wherever we were staying. If my dress began to smell a little earthy, I washed it in a sink or a washing machine before I went to sleep. It was really that simple. The same thing applied to toiletries. All I needed to feel attractive and put together was deodorant, a toothbrush, and some light cosmetics.
Neither Jeff nor I wanted an around-the-world adventure in suffering. We like to eat, sleep and travel well — just like everyone else. Many people interpreted our experiment as a radical act (à la John the Baptist’s honey and crickets survival diet), but it truly wasn’t designed to test how much deprivation we could endure. We were curious about whether we could enjoy a journey just as much — or even more — when we eliminated the tourist agenda and most of the material trappings. What we discovered was that after a certain base level was met (water, food, shelter and a fully charged iPhone), decreasing the number of possessions did little to affect the quality of our journey. What we lost in souvenirs, we gained in unprecedented freedom of movement and an unbeatable conversation starter. (Via Salon)
Again, what a remarkable story. In fact, it’s so good that Bensen also got a book deal to retell the adventure that she already told, only longer. We’re typically quick to dismiss most rom-coms, but I have to admit that I am really looking forward to seeing Zooey Deschanel and Miles Teller (as well as Josh Gad as their hilarious online travel agent) star in No Baggage on Valentine’s Day 2016.
[Vince’s Note: I enjoy that their blind date attire included a grey beanie, some sort of Native American hoodie, and plain t-shirts.]