It was a Saturday night and things were going so dandy and sweet that I had almost thought I was living in a Stevie Wonder song. Some pals and I had attended a beer and music festival, and it was the best of times. As our angelic designated driver navigated us home, lights of red and blue flashed violently in our rearview. Pulling over, we were approached by an officer of the law. His voice thundered with arrogance as he said cop things to us in that snidely accusing way. He couldn’t stand to swallow the fact that we were doing nothing wrong, and radioed for some colleagues to join him. We were all forced to take a seat on a damp curb for some interrogation and belittlement. Eventually, the boys in uniform determined our driver was in fact sober and that our car miraculously wasn’t harboring drugs. For heaven’s sake, they couldn’t even find the gun that they had mistaken my girlfriend’s cell phone to be. It was a 90-minute process and it left our dignities torn apart like the interior of the car after their quest for illegalities. Our spirit was broken. Our Saturday night was tarnished.
Why would I ramble on about a cop whose narcissistic zeal shone brighter than his badge? On Tuesdays past, I’ve compared Bede Durbridge’s surfing to a leprechaun on ketamine, related wave pools to Mexican prostitutes, and surmised that the Queen of England has been thwacked in the face by Michael Phelps’s penis. But talking about police officers? Why? Because the ocean has a police and they are called locals. Riddle it for a moment.
Have you ever faced a brutal reality of localism? Getting vibed, yelled at, or kicked out of the water for no reason ruins your day, doesn’t it? It paints in your mouth a feeling of inferiority that is all but unbearable. It sucks when someone has all the power and you’re left helpless. It would suck if the power goes out in your home, but not in your neighbor’s. They’re over there watching Seinfeld, giggling away at Kramer while you’re stuck there with your stupid candles and a flashlight. Pissed. It’s all about the narcotically addictive feeling of power. The sociology of superiority/inferiority; the government and the governed. The drug of power rained on my Saturday night parade, and it damn sure can pour on a surf session at a localized wave.
As surfers, we tread a thin line between sharing and entitlement, just as cops juggle the ideals of protection and service with basic human respect. Do we invite others to enjoy a spot or do we decide that we are the only ones whom deserve such a privilege? Some surf spots simply warrant a dash of exclusivity. Finder’s keeper’s. Some crimes warrant an arrest. Can’t go around shooting people in the face. But there’s no sense in nastily belittling a car full of happy young adults. Why get aggro for no reason at an average wave that happens to be historically uncrowded? Look, ocean police, if you really have to protect your spot, do so with respect. Loke the way that you would want to be loked. Thirsting for power is stupid and only creates problems—unless Seinfeld’s on. —Brendan Buckley