Know this: surfers are mean, scary people.
Me and the fam are currently on a week-long mini-vacation in Santa Cruz, a little beach city just north of Monterrey. There's a funky old boardwalk and nice sandy beaches with very, very cold water.
It is also home to some of the most venal junkyard dog surfers in the world. I had somehow blotted out that little fact.
I briefly was a bad surfer in my late teens and early twenties. Mostly I’d sit far away from the line-up and wonder about the dark shapes silenting undulating under the WICKED cold water.
I used to go with a kid who grew up in Hawaii and could actually surf. He’d encourage me to get in the lineup at Santa Cruz, without really taking me through the etiquette of the water. Of course it didn’t make a difference, because a) I rarely put myself in a position where etiquette was needed, seeing as how I put myself as a far away as possible from the twitching mass of devil-eyed and tattoo-neck speed freak carpenters that I shared the water with, and b) I’m pretty certain the guys in the line-up had already mentally indentified the tire irons they were going to use on us when we were suiting up on the cliff.
They HATED us… well, me mostly. “I’m going to break your faggot fucking neck if you try to get into this lineup.”
My friend told me that these guys are very serious about safety, and perhaps they were concerned by my green appearance. Their concern was touching. Especially touching was the way a thoughtful soul has keyed the word “fuk” into my friend’s mom’s stationwagon. My friend’s dad said “Well, at least you had the last laugh – they left out the “c””
I got a very slight whiff of the thug fumes when I took Owen for a walk along a bike-path that runs above a well trafficked surf spot near our rental. You get down to the bay via a string of short cliffs. Atop those cliffs are a series of homemade where surfers on land could watch surfers below, uh, surf. They all watch in rapt, grim attention, as if they were watching a particularly violent and grisly end to someone attempting to scale the Berlin Wall.
So into this scene Owen and walked along, LAUGHING and ENJOYING ourselves or something bourgie like that.
Three heads swiveled, three towheads with saddle leather skin and bright eyes, mean looking thick necked bastards that managed to look like Hell’s Angels and football players all at once. It was like Owen farted the best parts of “Lady’s Chatterly’s Lover” at Mother Theresa’s funeral.
Dudes, fuck off. I’m taking a walk with my kid. I am not here to steal your fucking precious locals-only treasure. I’m sorry my kid laughed, I’m sorry I laughed during the comtemplation of the holy mysteries of your little hobby. Please don’t slash my tires. Please don’t send your girlfriend with the sparrow tattooed to her neck to scratch my wife’s face.
Please don’t borrow your boss’s nail gun and write LOCALS ONLY in ha’penny nails on the hood of my Honda. I only want to have fun.
Otherwise, Santa Cruz = wonderful. Lovely people.