Let’s get 80 blogs together from across the world. On the same day, we will post about our lives in our parts of the prospective worlds, just a glimpse of what things are like in each little bubble that we blog from. We can connect, find something to tell others about our lives and our areas that maybe they never knew, and maybe for a day link the world up a bit.
That was, like, totally easier than typing it out on my own. I know, right? (<--- You think I'm over-exaggerating when I tell you people in my hometown actually talk like this, don't you?) I live in Huntington Beach. That's Huntington Beach, California... smack dab in the middle of Orange County. For those who watch the OC--- yeah, that Orange County. I live a mile from the beach.
On Tuesdays I take the baby to Surf City Nights down at Main St:
They have vendors of crafts and food, excellent street musicians, and gigantic bouncy houses for the kids (nothing's for free, of course, except listening to the musicians.)
Huntington Beach has disgustingly perfect weather, nearly year round. We're in the middle of a cool spell right now. It's the height of winter. It's 60 degrees (Farenheit). Brrrr! I seriously just saw someone in a parka waiting for a bus. A parka! That's what they use in Alaska, and for cross-country skiing and such. It seems a bit overkill for 60 degrees, but there you have it. Orange County people aren't known for their ruggedness. Our average temperature ranges between 74 degrees...... and 74 degrees.
I know everyone out there hates me right now, but seriously--- what I wouldn't give to see a bit of snow. Or sleet. Or hail. Or fall leaves. Weatherwise, I feel like I live on the Truman show!
So, this is where I live, and this is where I grew up. I know I should be more grateful. I have to admit, I do see scenes like the photo above all the time.
My main complaint is the REASON they've cropped the above photo so small.
If you widen that photo, this is what you would find to the left and the right of that beautiful, solo surfer:
Throngs and throngs of noisy, sweaty, half-dressed people. When people cross the street on Main Street, they don't just cross the street. They migrate across in a gigantic, well-manicured flock:
Oh, don't get me wrong--- these aren't just any people! They are very, very beautiful people! My city is home to approximately 1,389,389,162,359,029 of the most beautiful people on the planet. Thanks to botox, the only way you can tell someone's true age is to sneak their expensive, name-brand wallet out of their expensive, name-brand purse and take a peek at their driver's license. Everyone here is either 21, waiting to become 21, or do everything medically possible to make sure they still look 21.
The men are beautiful.
Surfing is a lot of fun, and provided you plunk down the $125 dollars for a yearly beach parking pass, $100 for a used board, and a couple of bucks for some surf wax (It's called Sex Wax. No, I'm not kidding. Walk into a beach store around here and ask for some sex wax, and the cashier won't even bat an eyelid)... well, after the initial costs, it's relatively free. It's tons of fun, and an incredible workout, and the men and women's bodies around here reflect it.
Did you know I was almost 21 before I realized that most guys don't NATURALLY have smooth, bronzed, hairless chests? The first time I saw my first boyfriend without his shirt on, I was amazed. He was so... so... so WHITE! And he had HAIR! On his chest! And around his NIPPLES! What was up with THAT?
I grew up seeing this all through high school:
How was I to know any different? I really thought that most guys didn't have hair on their chests, and that any guy that did was considered exceptionally hairy. I guess anybody around me who didn't have a golden brown tan or hadn't taken the time to properly shave/wax his chest usually had the good sense to keep his shirt on. It's probably a good thing, as I probably would have pointed and gawked.
On a side note, every afternoon at about 3 pm my high school's surf team (yeah, that's right... most Huntington Beach high schools have a surfing team. You could always tell when the waves were pounding because your 1st and 2nd period classes would be suspiciously empty)--- anyways, the the surf team would meet on the same corner as the cross-country team as they each prepared to go do their own workout.
Poor, poor Becky.
Having to walk through the midst of 40 tanned, shirtless, muscular young gods... every day.
Poor, poor her.
On the other hand, poor her indeed!
If you think the guys around here are hot... wait till you see the girls! It's demoralizing being around this caliber of beautiful women.
Those photos I just showed you aren't freak occurrences of gorgeous women. I could go down to Main St right now, on a Monday afternoon, and pick out 10 women who looked just like that in a matter of minutes (during the summer I could probably do the same in about 30 seconds). Thankfully, most of the hotties congregate around downtown Huntington Beach, which everyone calls "Main St" or "the pier". If you want to avoid them, just head to the north end of the city and wander around Bella Terra , which has some good shopping and is much more family-friendly.
The Huntington Beach pier has been a landmark around here and is pretty much what you comes to mind when you think of Huntington Beach.... well, that and the firepits. Huntington is one of the only beaches in the Southern California area that has firepits on the beach.
Lugging the firewood and accessories out to the pits from the parking lot can be a pain, but it's worth it. In fact, that's exactly where I held my "wedding reception"--- I had a great big bonfire at the state beach. We played music, roasted hot dogs and smores, hid our champagne and beer beneath a layer of sodas, and laughed with good friends and family. The Bean and I had an absolute blast, and the whole wedding only cost us $250 TOTAL. Beat THAT!
Where was I?
Oh, yeah. The Pier.
I could give you all the geographical data about the pier, but that's really boring. Here's what's interesting:
It has a Ruby's at the end of it. Ruby's has "refillable" fries and FANTASTIC, FANTASTIC, UTTERLY FANTASTIC shakes and malts.
So, if you're ever in HB, walk to the end of the pier around sunset, get a table by the window (if there are any available) and watch the sun sink slowly into the Pacific Ocean while dipping your fries in your delicious shake.
(Just bring your sunglasses, because the glare is gonna kill you. Oh, and bring a jacket. Even if it seems warm at home, the stiff breeze on the pier comes in over the water and can chill you fast.)
Another interesting sidenote is that in 1988 the weather system El Nino caused massive 20 ft waves that ripped off the end of the pier (which used to be made out of wood). It's since been rebuilt (obviously).
Even when I was a teenager, I completely avoided Main Street. When I was younger, it was too much of a party scene, and not exactly the most wholesome place to hang out. During the winter it's not that bad of a place, but during the summertime (when the city's population of 200,000 doubles), the streets are crammed with an interesting mixture of half-dressed sullen teenagers doing their best to look worldly and bored, surfers in worn flip flops and expensive board shorts that hang so low on their hips they appear to be dangling from their genitals like on a coat hook, and sun-drained, cranky out-of-town families, all slightly pink and carting waaaaaay too many beach toys.
Contrary to popular belief, nobody here wears Hollister. The guys wear Hurley, Quicksilver, Volcom, Billabong and other surfing/skating brands.
The girls all wear bikinis, throwing minuscule little cutoff jean shorts over them as "coverup"s.
Naturally, you don't actually button the shorts. Like, whateeever. (No, seriously. If you wear jean shorts over a bikini bottom, you don't button them. They've been doing--- or rather failing to do that--- since I was a teenager.)
What do I think of the pier bow that I'm older?
It's not bad during the day, but at night it's still too much of a party scene. Plus, the atmosphere just feels forced. The teenagers aren't having nearly as good of a time as they wish they were, and the adults are too busy being annoyed by the teenagers to be able to relax. The surfing at the pier is good... but not THAT much better than the rest of the beach. Besides, if you're not a local, you're not actually allowed to surf at the pier. It's a like a 1980s B movie--- you need to prove your right to be there, bra! Who needs that headache?
The surf here is adequate, but not spectacular. I have no idea how we managed to land being the host city of the US Open of surfing, but we did. This year it was kind of neat because one of the best surf days we've had all year actually happened on that weekend (solid 8 foot waves, with occasional 13 footers), so this year it was actually worth watching.
When the waves go off in Huntington Beach, the Wedge almost always goes off too--- and THAT is a sight to behold. The Wedge is located in Newport Beach, which is right next door to HB. If you were a crow, you could probably get to the Wedge in a matter of minutes.
If you're a human, in a car, and the Wedge is pumping--- it's gonna take you about 2 hours, even though it's only about 5 or 6 miles away. Forty minutes of that will be inching along at a snail's pace, watching people walk past you... and an hour and 20 will be trying to find parking once you're there.
Still, once you are there, and if the waves are just right, it's kind of worth it:
Here's what Surfreport has to say about The Wedge:
The Wedge is not a wave -- it's a 20-foot-plus meat grinder dreamed up by the devil himself. It heaves, bends and pulverizes in ways that good little waves aren't supposed to act. The first time you swim or paddle out on a solid day, a typical thought might be, "Dang, is my chiropractor covered in my medical plan?" The Wedge is a combination of two waves that merge together, thrusting into a titanic slingshot that breaks with enough pounds per square inch to send Stone Cold Steve Austin to the mat.
The worst part about the Wedge is that the wave is breaking in something like 2 feet of water. There's no way to escape getting DRILLED into the sand if you land wrong. It's crazy to watch. The people who do it are probably certifiable.
If you decide to do something other than hang out at the beach, grab a cinnamon roll at Alice's Breakfast in the Park , or have some breakfast at the fairly famous Sugar Shack Cafe on Main Street. Romp with the dogs at dog beach,
Like most cities with a high tourist population, the locals can be kind of snobby towards out-of-towners. I started trying to think of some of the differences, and finally ended up coming up with the following list, which is by no means conclusive:
How to spot a tourist in Huntington Beach:
They're pink. Locals are either surfer-golden or emo-white.
They sport a farmer's tan... or even worse, a sock tan.
They try to hide their sock tan by wearing socks with their shoes. Nobody wears socks that you can actually see around here. I'm not sure why, but that's how it is.
They are wearing regular hiking-type sandals, instead of regular flip-flops.
Even worse, they are wearing SOCKS WITH THEIR SANDALS (I'm no fashion guru, but really... where and when is this EVER okay? Is there some strange, touristy land I'm unaware of where people wander around in socks and sandals, and anybody who shows up otherwise is immediately branded as a tourist?)
They are openly gawking at the half-naked jailbait, instead of sensibly buying a pair of reflective sunglasses and leering away in privacy.
They have carted approximately 4.5 cubic tons of useless crap with them to the beach.
They arrive during peak season (Memorial Day to Labor Day) in the afternoon and actually expect to be able to stake out a firepit. C'mon people--- you have to get there by 9 in the morning if you want one of those. And by 9am most of the good ones are already taken!
For those of you who are thinking of visiting, here is what you will actually need for the beach:
A beach towel.
Sun screen. Make sure it's waterproof. Don't put any on your forehead (or your eyes will start stinging once you go in the water) Reapply every 3-4 hours. And do this even if it's cloudy--- you still fry when it's cloudy.
No umbrella (umbrellas are for sissy people who worry about skin cancer and living past 30.)
No beach chair (that's why sand is soft).
A pair of sandals. No closed-toes shoes (again... sand is soft.)
A sweatshirt-- the closer you get to the beach, the windier it will be. You'd be surprised how quickly you can get chilly, especially if you get to the beach early and the June gloom is still going on (the marine layer sometimes doesn't burn off till midday.)
A water bottle.
No food: any food you bring is going to just going to get sandy. If you have to bring food, bring something durable, like an apple to tide you over.
If you are going out into the water, discreetly dig a hole and place your keys/wallet in the sand, and then cover it up and place your towel over it. Thievery on the beach is rampant--- I really think that's how some people make a living during the summertime.
So, there you have it. My hometown, but not necessarily my home. I don't know where my home is, exactly, but it's someplace that looks like either Montana or Scotland, where my nearest neighbor is a phone call instead of whisper away, and there are tons of horses in my front yard.
But if you're gonna get stuck in California, Huntington Beach isn't a bad way to go.
IMPORTANT NOTE: I didn't take any of these photos. I couldn't take a nice picture of anything if my life depended on it. Seriously. My ex's sister was a model, and when I took a photo of her I made her look fat. How do you do that? At any rate, I just googled the whole posting photos on your blog that you yoinked off the internet, and apparently it's a bad, bad thing. SIGH. I'm going to be working on either replacing these photos with photos from photographer friends or figuring out how to give credit.
I think I've mentioned before that I work at a bar. I started at as the lowest cocktail waitress with the worst section and climbed my way aaaaall the way to the top position of.... bartender. (The ladder of success in a dirty little bar really doesn't have that many rungs to climb.) It's not a bad way to make money, except that it doesn't really suit me all that well.
I'm a morning person, and in a perfect world I'd be in bed before 9 pm.
I don't like to dress up.
I don't like to party.
I don't enjoy small talk, and even before I was married I didn't like "flirting".
I don't really like to drink or even the taste of alcohol very much.
To top it off, alcoholism runs in my family, so I'm fairly uncomfortable around drunk people.
My only saving grace is that I have pretty darn good acting skills. You kind of have to, as a bartender. It takes a great deal of skill to smile instead of punching the 3rd drunk of the night who has come up to your bar and says, "I'll have Sex on the Beach.... Oh! And I'll have a drink, too! Ha, ha!"
Drunk people don't make the most scintillating conversation I've ever heard, and after enough time with them, you start to realize that the majority of humanity is really just faking social interaction.
On a side note, I've decided that this is the main reason why Showtime's series "Dexter" is so wildly popular. Everyone who likes it identifies with the main character (who happens to be a sociopath serial killer incapable of real emotion) who has to fake his way through life's awkward social interactions with fake smiles and canned responses. I know that's certainly why I like it.
But I digress.
Last night was a slow night at the bar. I was leaning back against the register, chatting and laughing with one of the few patrons that was actually sitting at the bar. Every bartender has their niche that they try to use to get good tips.
Some of them have hot bodies with lean, toned thighs. (Not me!)
Some of them have big, plasticky boobs that they gather together like unruly children and squash into a low-cut blouse. (Not me!) One of the bartenders at my job manages to herd her gigantic, plastic beasts into such a high, protruding "Look-at-what-I'm-serving-up" position that I always have the strange urge to hand her a sprig of garland and a lemon wedge to adorn them. Sometimes I just feel sorry for her boobs. It's like looking at a Clydesdale in a 10x10 box stall. Give those girls a little more room! Let them be free to be boobs and actually move around a little!
Some of them have mean personalities that they use to scare people into giving them tips. One of the bartenders at our bar is known for throwing quarter or .50 cent tips back at people before hollering so loudly about their stinginess that they generally end up digging back into their wallets and leaving a large tip out of embarrassment. (Not me!)
Some of them try for witty conversation and funny banter, in the hopes that someone thinks they're funny enough to leave them a big tip. (Me!)
Is it any wonder that I don't make the same tips as the rest of the girls?
Like I was saying, I am a bartender, but it's not exactly the right job for me.
And like I was saying, last night I was chatting with a customer, when in walks James, one of the regulars.
James is a nice guy, kind of funny and loud, and he drinks the same thing every night: Clan McGregor whiskey on the rocks with a tiny splash of soda. He leaves a $1 tip for every drink he buys. Whenever I see James come in, I try to have his first drink ready for him before he even hits the bar. He's good friends with the manager, and the two of them usually end up in some kind of heated political discussion that is more cuss words than anything else before the night is through. They enjoy needling each other, and lately James (who is black) has been trying to negate all of the manager's points (who is white) by laughingly saying, "Well, that's just because you're racist! You hate black people!" The two of them then end the night by slinging racist epithets back and forth, each one trying to outdo the other in terms of sheer, disgusting shock value.
It's actually one of the highlights of my Monday nights, listening to those two.
Last night, as James made his way to the bar, I didn't hasten over to greet him, but lingered for a half second to finish whatever it was I was saying to the first customer. Just to get a reaction from me, James slammed both hands down flat on the bar as soon as he reached it, and hollered out, "Can I get a little service in this damn place?" I jumped at the loud noise, and looked over to see him grinning at me. I decided to take a chance, so I replied, "No. We don't serve black people in here. Go away."
James immediately began laughing, and I laughed with him, and all was good. I poured his drink a little heavier than usual to take the sting out of my joke, and he tipped me $2 instead of just $1 in appreciation for the laugh.
All's well that ends well, right?
Mmmhmm. You know this story wouldn't be on this blog if that were the case.
Several hours later, James is still hanging out at the bar, only now he's a little worse for the wear. He's one of the few people I don't cut off, because his house is within rock-throwing distance of the bar. When he's done he just staggers home and sleeps it off, and I know I don't have to worry about him behind the wheel, or getting mugged on the way home, or anything like that. He and the manager have already had their friendly evening spat, and he's leaning against the bar, looking a little faded, slowly sipping on his Whiskey soda (Number four? Five? I lost count.) I am in the process of making two long islands for a beautiful black couple. They were absolutely, hands down, the two best looking people I have seen in a long time. To top it off, they were speaking with a beautiful accent. South Africa? Uganda? Kenya? I was just opening my mouth to ask them where they were from, when from the end of the bar I hear:
"Oh, so you serve black people now? Because I had to beg you for my drink, and you didn't want to give it to me because I'm black. That's what you told me, isn't it? You said, 'We don't serve black people here--- get out.' You're so disgusting. Racist. Racist pig."
Beautiful African Couple in front of me glanced at James (who was doing a very admirable job of faking genuine anger), and then looked back at me, mouths narrowed in anger and distaste.
"Wait. No. Wait..." I spluttered.
"Isn't that what you said, Becky? Didn't you say that? Didn't I hear the words, 'We don't serve black people in here' come out of your mouth? And now you're serving these two people?"
"But, but, but... No, wait. Wait." I could feel my face flushing a deep, horrible red. "That's not what I meant! It was a joke! I was just joking. I'm not racist! It was just a joke! I like black people! No, wait... that sounds racist, too. I mean, uh.... I mean... Uh... It was a joke! I was just joking!"
The more I talked, the stupider I sounded, and the more James secretly laughed. And the more I tried to make it sound like it was all a big joke, the angrier the African couple in front of me became. It's one thing to make a joke about racism to James, who while I'm sure has encountered racism in his life also makes a VERY comfortable living as a stockbroker on Wall Street. It's another thing entirely to joke about racism with someone from Africa--- in Africa racism is frightening, and depressing, and violently alive. There's no joking about racism with someone from Africa. My joke with James at the beginning of my shift had been funny because of its shock value, but it had been within the lines of good taste. Suddenly, now, taken in its real context, I realized how unfunny it actually was.
I never really did recover or fully explain myself to that beautiful African couple. They only ordered the one drink from me and shortly thereafter took their leave. I felt terrible.
James spent the last two hours of my shift hollering out, "You hate black people! You told me you wouldn't serve me any alcohol because I'm BLACK!" at the top of his lungs to anyone who happened to wander near him. Ha, ha, ha. I guess it serves me right for making the joke in the first place. Karma had its revenge, and I learned a very valuable lesson.