This is What Happens When Larry David Picks You Up While Hitchhiking
“Hitchhiking With Larry David” author Paul Samuel Dolman explains the odds of such an odd encounter.
Three summers ago, while riding his bike, Paul Samuel Dolman’s legs got tired so he pulled over to rest.
The day prior he had biked more than 40 miles around Martha’s Vineyard, where he had escaped to his parents cabin after avoiding the “marriage discussion” with a girl he had fallen deeply in love with in Nashville.
On this particular venture, he stopped on the side of the road, ditched his bike, and decided to hitch a ride from a stranger instead.
Sticking his thumb out as a car approached Dolman had no idea that the first person to pull over and offer him a lift would inevitably change both his perception on how things work in the universe, and his entire life in general.
“Need a ride?” That was the first thing comedian and writer Larry David, famous for both his work on Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm, said to Dolman as he stood on the embankment of the road in Martha’s Vineyard.
With some hesitation, of course, due to the unlikely odds that David would be the person to actually pick him up, Dolman climbed into the car. “You’re not a serial killer or something, are you?” David asked Dolman, with that “classically wonderful Larry look” on his face.
Recalling the memory of first meeting the comedian, Dolman said there was a long, awkward pause before he finally managed to spit out a witty comment in return. “I told him, ‘it’s the summer, so if I was I’d be on vacation and not working,” said Dolman. And so the two drove on.
But the whole time Dolman had one thing on his mind. “In my head I’m thinking, ‘it’s friggin’ Larry David—holy shit!’ But then we just started driving, and we had this great talk,” he said.
Dolman never said if he went back to get his bike, but it wouldn’t matter much if he didn’t, because the trip with David, a long car ride to the other side of the island where some of the “most beautiful” beaches can be found, in Aquinnah, likely put the concern to do so out of his brain completely.
It was this trip, this unlikely encounter on the Vineyard, a summer haven for tourists, any of which could have been the one to stop for him, that Dolman said inspired him to write a book and call it, “Hitchhiking with Larry David.”
With no previous desire to compile a memoir, after spending the moments in David’s car that summer day, Dolman said he later dreamt that it was his purpose to publish a recap of the celebrity run-in. “The book is solely sparked on this experience. If I tell you the truth, I had a dream the last night of the summer, and in that dream something told me ‘write a book called “Hitchhiking with Larry David.”’ I wrote the title down, and put it in my pocket. I just felt like ‘let’s get in there and start writing and see what happens,’” said Dolman.
Dolman started putting together all of the pieces leading up to his adventure with David, and everything thereafter, capturing the summer season living with his aging parents as he struggled with questions about a woman known only as “the Miracle” (that’s her actual last name), and why things happen the way they do.
What he came out with was a “multi-level love story” that used his conversation with David as the backbone of the entire book. Dolman said when getting to the parts where he was sitting in the front seat of David’s car, talking idly, he transcribed everything from memory. “I didn’t take any notes,” he said. “I’m a savant, I have an amazing memory. If I hear things, I can remember them forever.”
What he remembers is experiencing a philosophical side of the comedian that never seems to break through to the general public during interviews, or on TV shows. “Larry showed a side you never, ever see. He was talking about the nature of success, relationships, and spirituality—I told him I was trying to get over a girl and he gave me some great advice. At the end, I asked him why he doesn’t talk about this stuff [in public], and he turned to me and said ‘no one ever asks me these questions.’”
Ever since the encounter on Martha’s Vineyard—which led to Dolman spending a few more occasions with David in the end—the author has invested in a particular faith in “magic.” This developed because the odds were in his favor, he said, as David had never picked up a hitchhiker before in his life. “He told me he felt like he was supposed to do it,” said Dolman.
At first, after being offered ‘peanuts’ for the rites, Dolman decided to self-publish the book. Then, much like the off-chance of him being picked up by David on the side of the road in Martha’s Vineyard, that “magic” came back into play. “A producer, who had previously read it, went on a blind date with a very successful literary agent, and gave her the book. A short time later she said ‘wow,’ and called me up with an offer for representation. “Well, have at it, if something happens great, if not, I’ll keep selling them in bootleg fashion. A few months later a big time publisher, Gotham Penguin, loved it, bought it and published it. The new version just came out in hardcover on May 30,” said Dolman.
Not long after, the book got optioned by Hollywood executives interested in turning it into a film. Of course, Dolman said, David would have to play himself if it happens. “He would have to— they would have to get Larry to be Larry,” he said, adding that he previously sent David the book just so he wouldn’t be surprised by it coming out. “When I sent him the galley, and I never thought he would read it, I sent it out of respect, like the godfather or something—you don’t want to have him surprised; but he read it and wrote me this nice email, and in the email a line ended up on the hardcover.”
That line said, “if I’d only known, I would’ve been wittier.”
Dolman hopes David gets that chance in the movie version.