Sometime during the summer of 2000, on an otherwise normal Saturday afternoon at Elysium Fields in Topanga, CA, the
groundskeeper was driving back to the resort from the San Fernando Valley when he spotted the person we later always referred to as Thong Man.
The fellow as about 80 years old, very thin and gray, incredibly tan, and wearing only the smallest thong on his body. The thong covered his privates but left nothing else to the imagination. The groundskeeper saw the man hiking alongside the winding highway, headed up the grade from the Valley, and the sudden sight of the man almost caused the groundskeeper, as well as other drivers on the road, to swerve into oncoming traffic as their heads turned to get a good look at the site.
Elysium is located about 8 miles into the canyon, about half way to the Pacific beaches, and it took the groundskeeper only a few minutes to arrive back at the resort and to relate the story to the office staff in the drive-up registration office.
“You’ll never guess what I saw…”
About two hours later, who should walk in the Elysium front gate but Thong Man!
He walked right up to the registration desk and asked if he could come in and stay the night.
Norma, the registrar on duty, who had heard the groundskeeper’s story earlier burst out laughing. “Did you walk all the way from the Valley like that?”
“This is what I always wear,” said Thong Man matter-of-factly. “Comfortable and practical.” At this point, other staffers in the adjoining office started to wander into the room, if just to watch what was going to happen.
Norma calmly explained that it was now mid-afternoon, so the time for introductory tours of the grounds was over, and that all the overnight rooms were already booked for the night. “But you can come back tomorrow,” she said with a smile.
Thong Man stood there for a several moments pondering his options, finally saying “All I need is a place to spend the night and I’ll be gone in the morning.”
At this point Norma wasn’t sure if the man was harmless or a serial killer on the lam, although he certainly wasn’t hiding a gun or knife, but she decided that he had to be turned away. “I’m really sorry but we have no place for you tonight. You’ll have to come back tomorrow.”
Thong Man looked very disappointed at the news. “I won’t be any trouble…I’ll sleep on the floor somewhere.”
Norma then asked for his name. “Can’t say,” same the reply.
Norma was becoming more confident in her decision. “No, I’m sorry. Is there someone I can call who will come and pick you up?”
At this point Thong Man grew very nervous. “No, no, nobody to call. Is there somewhere else nearby where I can stay the night?”
Norma suggested he continue down the canyon another mile to the town of Topanga, where there might be a few places he could try. “But you’re not going to get very far dressed like that – you’ll scare the locals, not to mention the wildlife.”
Norma got up and went to the lost and found closet and found the man a shirt and shorts that had been abandoned for awhile. Thong Man quietly put them on, said thanks, and turned to leave.
“I’ll be back tomorrow,” he said as he headed back down the road.
After he left, Norma alerted the staff that the unknown visitor might be back the same day, so that plans could be made to either accommodate him or else to call the police if that proved necessary.
But Sunday came and went, and Thong Man never returned to Elysium. Norma made a trip into Topanga Village to see if he had been there, but nobody had any news. The man had simply vanished.
About a week later, the groundskeeper again was in the Valley and happened to spot about a half dozen police cars in a supermarket’s parking lot alongside the road. Slowing down for a closer look, she saw the police crouched behind their cars, with guns drawn, all pointing at this old man, very thin and gray, incredibly tan, and wearing only the smallest thong on his body. With his hands in the air.
The groundskeeper turned into the parking lot and asked the police what was going on.
“This is a very dangerous escaped mental patient,” the officer said. “He has been eluding us for weeks. We caught him trying to bum food from shoppers as they were leaving the market.”
It occurred to the groundskeeper that the man looked absolutely helpless and unable to hurt a fly. One can only wonder how everyone’s life would have changed had Norma only allowed the man in the gate.