The United States Open of Surfing is renowned for the irregularities that surround it. And on Saturday afternoon, I witnessed a bouquet of them. Upon arriving in Huntington Beach, I pulled up next to a glimmering blue Kia sedan at a red light. Five young men sat in the car, dressed in clothing that a Walmart fashion analyst would have predicted to trend back in 2007: sporadically patterned tank tops, backwards hats and the worst sunglasses you’ve ever seen. A dubstep song jumped through the speakers of the sedan and the quintuplets sat stagnant. All five of them, emotionless, almost even diligent, as if Bassnectar was giving a guest lecture in the Psychology of Drug Abuse class at their community college. It made me uneasy and I stomped the gas as the light turned green. That was not the strangest thing I saw.
I drove onward and eventually parked my car in a residential neighborhood. Wary of the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays, I rubbed some sunscreen on my face. As the SPFs sunk in, I noticed a middle-aged man standing on his lawn, wearing camouflage cargo shorts and no shirt. He held a hose and was visibly displeased about a pack of bicycles locked to a tree. The tree was across the sidewalk from his property, yet he was out of sorts about the whole thing. With a very stern look on his face, he sprayed the bikes and said to me, “Can you believe the nerve of these kids?” I looked him in the cargo shorts and replied, “Haha, yeah,” but what I meant was, “Haha, yeah you’re a raging sociopath who is literally watering a group of steel bicycles.” Still, it wasn’t the strangest thing I saw.
Then, on my walk to the beach, I saw Willian “Buffalo Bill” Cardoso run down and tackle Joseph Kony. A crowd gathered as they watched BB wrestle JK, cheering him on as he made a citizen’s arrest. They must’ve been touched by the viral video exposing Kony’s evil because the streets erupted in what was a feel-good moment for all. But even a Brazilian citizen serving justice to a genocidal Ugandan in the U.S. of A. was not the strangest thing I saw.
I made it to the too-crowded beach and felt a false sense of security. Out of the gray, I noticed two overweight teenagers kissing some ten feet away from me. Their bulky bodies were easy targets for Cupid’s arrow. Skin flapped all over the place, a pool of slobber collected in the sand. And the hands! Oh, the hands. They grabbed, they tickled and they maybe even entered — I didn’t have the stomach to observe closely enough to be sure. And as the hands went to work, a police officer appeared through the mob. He got close enough to see what was going on and stopped dead in his tracks. The patrolman looked down at the teens, smiled, and kept on walking. It was the strangest thing I saw. —Brendan Buckley