The viral internet, a simple typo, and the power of crowdfunding will bring Will Novak, a 35-year-old man in Phoenix who works for the city of Mesa, to Vermont next weekend for the bachelor party of a complete stranger.
On Monday, Novak received an email from someone he didn't know, named Devin, inviting him to Angelo's Bachelor Party the weekend of January 18.
Novak also didn't know anyone named Angelo in Vermont, but the party sounded pretty awesome, and the guys sounded cool.
"Bring your 80's attire, ridiculous awesome getups, etc., for skiing, ask yourself. 'what would Angelo wear?'....wear that!" Devin's email said, Novak recounted. It promised food (Italian the first night, barbecue the next), beer, snacks, housing at John's Ski Chalet, and "an epic one of kind [sic] bachelor (Bildo Original) Party T-shirt."
Naturally, Novak had to respond.
"I didn't really think 'I'm going to go on a trip to Vermont,'" he told Phoenix New Times by phone. Instead, he wrote back the silliest email he could think of.
"I do not know who Angelo is. I am a Will Novak who lives in Arizona. Vermont seems like a very far way for me to travel for the bachelor party of a guy I’ve never met," he wrote.
"That being said: fucking count me in! From the contents of this email, Angelo sounds tremendous and I want to help send him off in style. I hope his bride (or groom) to be, is awesome," Novak wrote
A day or two later, they responded.
"William Novak the one in Phoenix, We all agree, we are very excited to meet you... We agree that your timely response may have been one of (if not the best) responses to an e-mail that has ever been sent. And we insist on you coming, this would surely make Angelos [sic] day."
Novak started looking at flights, which were around $230, when suddenly, prices doubled. With a 10-month-old daughter and a recently renovated house in Phoenix's Coronado historical district, the trip seemed, well, not exactly the responsible adult thing to do.
But on Facebook, friends urged him to go, and they suggested crowdfund it.
Even Novak's Councilwoman, Laura Pastor, weighed in. "A once in lifetime opportunity, do it!" she wrote.
Novak ran some numbers, figured out the trip would cost $750, and created a GoFundMe campaign.
He called it "Help me go to the bachelor party of a stranger," and the internet came through.
Within two hours, it was completely funded. As of this writing, strangers had donated $1,135, in increments of $5, $10, $25, and the campaign was still trending.
Novak said he planned to give the extra money to the groom, to help defray honeymoon costs, or donate it to a charity of the groom's choice. He said he did not want to know more about groom Angelo until he arrived in Vermont. Novak has already bought nonrefundable flights and a nonrefundable car rental, and he actually paid for both before the GoFundMe money came through.
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Novak will also be meeting the other William Novak, the one whose invite he accidentally received, because of a one-letter difference in their email addresses. The other Will Novak actually goes by Bill, and he lives in Brooklyn.
Novak plans to document the entire trip on Instagram and Twitter, for fun — and because you never know what can happen when you fly across the country to party with random, seemingly cool strangers you met by accident through the internet.
“If these guys turn out to be chainsaw murderers, people can call the cops for me," Novak said.
His wife is thrilled for him, Novak said. “She’s so happy to be rid of me. She’s like, 'I get to be rid of you for a weekend, and someone else pays for it? This is a dream scenario for me.'”