I have some good news and I have some bad news.
The good news: I’ve been doing a little research on CouchSurfing. (This is not yet the good news. My life has not yet gotten to the point that accomplishing a single internet related task without getting distracted by pictures of penguins is “good news.”) For instance I read this LA Times article from 2004 which outlines the basics of the movement:
Couch surfing is not, as the name may suggest, loading the divan in the back of the woody and hanging 10 from it at Zuma Beach. CouchSurfing is actually a global online network of travelers who have offered or are seeking couches on which to sleep. For free.
James Gilden, Special to The Times? More like James Gilden, Special Comedian to The Times! James Gilden, Hip Jokester to The Times. James Gilden, Guy Who Clearly Knows A Lot About Surfing to The Times.
I do not know what the phrase “back of the woody” means, but wikipeda says that woody can be a nickname for someone named Woodrow or Woodard. It probably does not refer to either of those things, in the first case because I just don’t think James Gilden is talking about throwing a sofa at a man called Woodrow; and in the second case because I do not believe that Woodard is a real name. If I worked at a Jamba Juice and a customer said their name was Woodard, I would think that they were attempting to joke, and I would tell them to leave and never come back. By the way this is also how I feel about the name Rudyard, which I cannot say without it sounding like indigestion.
The last entry on the disambiguation page is “Woodie a 1930’s to early 1950’s vintage station wagon with exterior wood paneling and trim.” Despite the spelling difference and lack of punctuation expressing the relationship between Woodie and the noun phrase that follows it, this seems like the most plausible option. Having not been alive in any of the listed decades, this reference is still lost on me, though clearly not on James Gilden, who, as we’ve established, clearly knows a lot about surfing. Hang 10!
(But CouchSurfing, it’s not that. It’s this website where you can sign up to host world travelers in your home. If you think this sounds dangerous, do not worry: according to Wikipedia only one CouchSurfer has been raped.)
The good news is that there is a CouchSurfing couch right here in Guangzhou, China! Very close to our apartment actually. So if you ever come to Guangzhou, there’s a great place for you to stay.
The bad news is that that place belongs to Gristle.
Gristle, in other words, is very happy to load your divan in the bad of his woody. He already had a guy come stay with him, an American, who Gristle said was strange and elderly. He stayed with Gristle, in Gristle’s one room apartment, for a week.
Gristle says that he’s really excited about going to stay with people all over China and, eventually, the world. If someone from Guangzhou contacts you on CouchSurfing and asks if he can stay with you, you should absolutely say yes. What’s the worst that can happen?
That he takes your iron and ironing board, asks you to help him carry bottles of cooking oil across the city, tells you to buy him $70 worth of American ginseng, asks you to help him buy real estate in the Midwest, makes you take pictures of him in the shower, tries to get you to teach him how to juggle, play the ukulele, speak German, brings you presents for your birthday, invites you to his relatives’ houses for his birthday, the worst and best that can happen is that you become friends with Gristle — the man who started at all, that Guangzhou man about town, the man of my dreams, ah: Gristle. Gristle.