Heroes will rise.
Today, after much rain and Biblical flooding, is a gorgeous day in Cardiff by the Sea. The sun is shining, birds singing and life is the hollow reminder of a gorgeous dream. Hollow reminder because Cardiff, like much of the world, is on severe Coronavirus lockdown. Parks closed, hiking trails closed, the beach… closed.
Bike riding is still theoretically allowed and so my wife and I went for a peddle toward Seaside Beach, ironically passing its first son Rob Machado along the way. We did not stop to chat, just a friendly wave from twelve feet apart.
Maintaining the social distance.
Halfway toward our destination, I became extraordinarily hungry, fitness being a foreign concept more or less, and my wife decided to support a small local business in time of need. Ki’s makes fine salads and so we each ordered one, the Nomnam Bowl featuring green leaf lettuce, rice noodles, basil, cucumber, pickled carrot and daikon, nut mix, cilantro, Thai peanut sauce, Sriracha and choice of protein.
My wife and I both chose chicken.
We then peddled across the street to eat them on beach front boulders once part of the Beach House property, a restaurant shuttered long before Covid-19 and rotting.
Sun shining, birds singing, waves rolling up all foamy and brown thanks to much rain and Biblical flooding.
A State Park police vehicle could be seen in the distance, making sure citizens were crowding sidewalks instead of the wide open beach.
A woman dared sit with her dogs in front of the break Georges, a few hundred yards up the beach toward Seaside, and he raced to chase her away.
Saving the public.
I took a bite and watched, enjoying the blend of Thai peanut sauce and Sriracha, troubled by vast totalitarian creep.
A lifeguard truck did a lap, stopped in front of where we were eating and said, “The guy behind me is going to ask you guys to move.”
“Why?” I wondered. “We’re not on the beach.”
“I don’t know…” he responded, clearly annoyed with his new duty. “…ask him.”
Minutes later, after chasing an elderly couple playing backgammon in the parking lot, the State Park police vehicle was upon us and a stern warning was issued from the bullhorn.
“Vacate the beach!”
Not being on the beach I waited until he came closer and put his bullhorn down but he did not and put on his sternest voice.
“VACATE THE BEACH!”
I defiantly lagged and that’s when Officer Holle swung his door wide and demanded my identification.
Like the small man behind the booming voice in The Wizard of Oz, Officer Holle could not have been taller than 5’6, 5’7 tops and young, vaguely ginger with awkwardly shaped legs. Feminine yet thick. Inwardly turned knees. The sort of legs that would have made it difficult for him to keep up with the “fast runners” in grade school. An unremarkable face twisted into a mirror-practiced version of Johnny Law.
I barked, “For what?” and we continued a verbal back and forth before I handed him my identification because, literally, for what?
I told him he should be embarrassed. That I was only beach adjacent trying to enjoy a healthy salad after an unexpected workout. He told me, through quivering lower lip, that he too was suffering as he was unable to go to the mountains.
I asked why.
Backup was called in.
Initially, I thought my imposing stature, towering above li’l Officer Holle, made him feel nervous, scared and that he needed another adult-sized male also wearing jackboots to keep him company but as I watched, realized that Officer Holle had absolutely no idea what I should be in trouble for and having trouble finding the proper infractions etc.
The codes I had violated and whatnot.
While I crouched on the boulder, waiting to receive whatever draconian punishment coming my way, still eating my salad and feeling the weight of our current totalitarian world order an older bald man, one half of the elderly couple busted for their potentially deadly game of backgammon, came running over shouting, “I hope you’re giving that officer hell. The high tide water mark is where their jurisdiction ends and we Californians have fought for that freedom for years!”
I nodded, feeling the weight of my important place in the new freedom movement.
A spokesperson, certainly, but also now a pillar.
Suffering for the cause like Harvey Milk.
The backup stood and might have been embarrassed but I couldn’t see his face as he was wearing a mask.
When Officer Holle re-emerged from his truck he was also wearing a mask and called me over.
“Am I allowed to touch the beach?” I asked.
“I’m telling you to come here…” he responded mustering his inner li’l lion and so I touched that sacred sand, making my way over for an explanation of my crimes.
I was being charged with a misdemeanor. On the ticket it read, “COVID WARNING” and “COV. CODE 409.5 PUB HEALTH.”
The nearest person was now well over a few hundred yards away.
After aggressively scrawling my name, I marched back toward the boulders and let loose the classic, “I hope you’re proud of yourself, buddy.” Like Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Like Che Guevara. Like Andrew Breitbart. Like Andrew Cuomo.
Like Mahatma Gandhi and now I am the official face of Freedom in the time of Coronavirus.
Of The People’s™ right to enjoy healthy salads on boulders on private property after surprisingly strenuous bicycle rides.
Oh I will fight this ticket to the end in court but I will need you, the greatest of all BeachGrit lawyers drafted from the august institution of the comment section. A handful of you practice jurisprudence, no?
I’m figuring a few more than OJ Simpson had, as our civil rights are being trounced more than his ever were, plus our case will have an extremely high profile as surfers, and those who to profess to be, are now public enemies no. 1.
Ten lawyers tops.
Eleven if one is related to Robert Kardashian.
Free the salad eaters.
After we’re done there we can free the surfers.
Heroes will rise.
We always do.