So here we are in Lithuania – me, the little guy and Nanna, on a three-generational holiday. And in the great tradition of our three-generational holidays, we’re staying in a hostel.
We’ve spent the morning traipsing round Vilnius’s finest kid-friendly attractions, so we’re taking a well-earned rest in the common room with a beer, a glass of milk and a cup of tea, respectively.
The little guy is – naturally – showing off his finest Spiderman moves, attracting the attention of our fellow hostellers, so we take time to say hello and introduce ourselves. We meet a young girl from Oregon, USA, who’s worked as a nanny and has clearly got the measure of my overly bouncy infant; a young guy from Korea who’s just graduated and is taking time out to travel round Europe; and an older guy who tells us that he’s from a place on the Russian border with China, and his town is half Russian and half Chinese.
“Interesting,” I say. “I’d never really thought of the two populations living side by side…”
But I don’t get to ponder this further, because the Korean guy starts talking about his plans to go to Warsaw and it turns out that’s where the American girl is headed, too, so they start talking about that, the conversation ends and the little guy and I head off to hang out on the beanbags with Nanna.
Cut to three days later.
I’ve just realised that I’ve miscounted the nappies and we’re two short, so I’m on a late-night mercy mission to the local supermarket. (I’ve become a bit casual since the little guys switched to teeny tiny pants during the day; I somehow forget that he still needs them at night.)
While I’m perusing the aisles in search of Baltic bum wraps, Nanna is putting the little guy to bed in our four-bed dorm – which, since there are three of us, has effectively become a private room. She’s just changed into her nightie and is about to read the first of three bedtime stories.
Suddenly, without as much as a cursory knock on the door, Russian Guy bursts into the room, burbling about how he’s leaving this evening and asking, “Where is your daughter?”
My mum – quite politely, given the rather startling circumstances – explains that I’m out and will surely be back soon.
Exit Russian Guy.
Ten minutes later, Nanna is just snuggling down under the covers when Russian Guy bounds in again, explaining that he’s leaving now and he’d like to leave his contact details for me.
My poor mum, from her supine position, is forced to extend a hand to receive the scratty bit of paper with Vladimir’s email, WhatsApp and Viber contacts, popping it under her pillow whilst meekly promising to pass it on to me.
Which she duly does … and seems vaguely surprised when I immediately ‘file’ the details in the nearest waste paper bin.
Now, I’m sure that Vladimir was a nice bloke, but our interaction was so brief, I don’t think I’d pick him out of a crowd.
Admittedly, from one point of view, I could be passing up the chance to meet a rare and intriguing character who could just be the man of my dreams. But from another point of view, he’s an odd kind of dude who’s barely exchanged ten words with me yet expects me to leap at the chance to stay in touch.
Later that evening, I’m out with one of the girls who works on reception, having a beer and telling her about Vladimir and his granny-bothering.
“I have a habit of attracting oddballs,” I say, as we grab our coats and start walking back to the hostel.
Barely have the words left my lips when a large, bearded guy – all hair and eccentricity – dances up to me, yelling, “WELCOME to Lithuania!” before blowing me a kiss and wafting away.
The girl and I look at each other, and burst into incredulous laughter.
“You’re not wrong,” she says. “All the weirdos come your way.”
And all I can do is nod in agreement.