Brad, once again, asked if he could go the beach with a different set of friends than those from the boys of summer at Arch Rock in Corona del Mar. And once again I said sure. This time he was heading to Huntington Beach to partake in the festivities planned for the last day of the US Open of Surfing.
The enormous crowd of people was overwhelming. Bare and flip-flopped feet seemed to cover every inch of the paved and sandy ground. Yet, under the heat of the sun, everyone seemed to be anticipating an awesome day. Fist bump greetings and smiling faces filled the area near Main Street, directly across from Huntington’s famous pier.
The bumper-to-bumper traffic, though, was not cool, so as I neared the boys’ destination, I told them to jump out here! In the middle of traffic. They did. Quickly. Yelling, thanks for the ride! as I maintained my stationary position. I waved, unsure if they even noticed my farewell as they were swallowed by the crowd.
As the day at the beach neared its end, as I was driving down Pacific Coast Highway, and noticed a few helicopters circling above, Brad called. Mom! There’s a riot going on here. On Main Street! After his brief explanation of what had happened I found myself, once again, tangled up with all the other vehicles in the area. I had to back track, go behind the main area so that I could find Brad and his pals on the other side of the action. Cruising along, snail-like, my jaw dropped, taking in the sight of the two rows of cops, 15-20 in each row, that I had to drive through. Brad wasn’t kidding! I mumbled to no one. The officers were brandishing weapons of all sorts, blocking the line of cars from turning left or right onto Main Street, and also keeping an eye on all the pedestrians that were hanging around.
A bit intimidating, I admit.
The further I drove the heavier the crowd. People yelling, screaming, hoot and hollering. People caught up in the energy of the riot, saying that it was the cops fault, that they ruined everything by shooting tear-gas pellets into the crowd. When in fact, it was a fight that broke out. Some guys trying to up one another. Then other drunk and and not so drunk people started jumping in. Fighting. Arguing. Ironically, the cops used the tear-gas as a last ditch effort to dispel the chaos. They were hoping to regain control of an out-of-control situation. But it didn’t work. People became even more heated. People were nowhere near settling down.
The boys jumped into the car, energized. I’m so hyper right now!, one of them yelled. Oh, my god, dude, that was so crazy! another added. And on it went during the ride home. Boys who got caught up in the energy of the night. The craziness of it all. They even fashioned masks made from their t-shirts wrapped around their faces, so they could breathe without sucking in the chemically induced tear-gas. As usual, I simply listened, occasionally asked a question – which they were more than happy to answer – and embraced the fact they were safe.
Yikes! I sighed under my breath.