Life has many strange turns it leads us through and I’ve one through many, many strange routes. However, one of the strangest ones yet was the time I went to a nudist meetup instead of a film one.

It kind of happened by accident. The kind that you only see in movies or read about in books.

So having been in LA for a few months, I decided to join film-making meetups and finally get out there and make some friends and network. I did the first part with a great gusto, since joining groups was as easy as downloading the app and clicking a few buttons. And I figured I’d deal with the going out and networking part as it came. A few weeks later, the very first meetup for one of the film-making groups I joined was to take place at a Denny’s and it was to be for those who wanted to partake in the screenwriting process. Naturally, I worried myself over it all day even thought I was excited to finally start doing something for my career. All kinds of questions plagued my head.

Who would be there?

What if I wasn’t good enough compared to all these LA natives?

What if my big city people skills were a bit rusty?

When the time came to go, my mom (because it’s not advisable to go meeting strangers in Los Angeles all by yourself) and I caught an Uber and went there, taking in the palm tree dotted streets of LA. I made sure to dress casually but professionally and tried to act the part too. When we walked into Denny’s, I couldn’t see the lady whom I knew to be the organizer of the group, so I asked one of the waitresses if there was a meetup taking place at their Denny’s. And I kid you not, she gave us the strangest, I’m-judging-you look and only pointed in the vague direction of people gathered around a congregation of tables in the back.

The people at the table were laughing and overall looked like a good-natured bunch. My mom and I introduced ourselves and took a seat across a lady who told us all about her relatives in Hawaii and an older gentleman with a nice mustache. A black-haired man at the head of the table informed us that they were waiting up on a few more people and so we got to chatting with those around us. I tried to guess who they worked as in the film industry and what kind of things we’d be discussing during the course of the evening. Another man (there were a lot more men at the meetup than women, but I figured it was normal for a film-making group), who was previously sitting by the black-haired one at the head of the table, quietly made his way over to sit at an empty chair across my mom. We smiled at him and tried to be as Minnesota-nice as we could.

Then the man at the head of the table introduced himself as the organizer of this group and that’s when I knew something was off. Where was the woman I was expecting? And why was everyone smiling so strangely? It wasn’t until they started passing around an album with all the pictures of the group that I realized who they were…

Nudists.

*And here I’m going to put in a disclaimer and say that personally, I don’t have anything against nudists but it’s just not something I can see myself being a part of.

Anyhow, the pictures were of the group at the beach, then taking a hike, then covered in mud. My face heated up and a strange sense of discomfort rose within me as my mom and I listed through the first couple pages, trying to make sense whether this was a joke or not. It definitely was not a joke. And then, slowly,  I looked up at her and said in Russian (you’ll learn I have a few hidden talents), “I think we’re at the wrong meetup.”

To the people, I said, “I’m sorry but we thought this was for film-makers.”

To which, the older gentleman sitting beside me replied, “Well honey, we’ve had plenty of movies made about us.”

I could only smile nervously. Primarily, because prior to this point I had only heard of nudists on TV. And secondly, because I had not expected this to happen, at all. It was like reaching out for a toothpaste and finding foot cream instead.

In the end, it turned out our film meetup was happening at a Denny’s a mile down the same street. My mom and I thanked the first group, got another Uber, and tried to contain our desire to giggle at the improbability of the situation we were just in.

At the actual film meetup, there were only four people and all we did was come up with characters and develop their backgrounds for an hour.

I’m tempted to think that it was by fate circumstances developed the way they did because that experience taught me that the world was the strangest, most wondrous, and most unexpected place to be, wrought with countless alleyways not even the most skilled storytellers could conjure up in their wildest imaginations.

I know this blog post was strange and random but hey, that’s life.

Now, tell me if you ever had such strange things happen to you?

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