Hummers, Beamers and Boards

Driving north on the 101 I come to a red light. I’m a handful of cars in the queue waiting to turn on to Chesterfield. I take a quick peek at myself in the rearview mirror. Right on, I’m having an epic hair day. My mojo is fully operational. The weather is perfect. I have no idea that soon San Diego will imitate Seattle’s winter for over two weeks.

While waiting for the light to change, I swivel my hips in a figure-8 while in my seat. I’m feeling irie listening to Prince Buster early Jamaican ska. The festive horns remind me of Mariachi music. Pavlovian response kicks in as I’m within sight of VG donuts. The saliva floodgates unleash and I debate whether or not to get the honey glazed or the chocolate.

I think to myself how perverted that over 100,000 people just died in Asia and my biggest dilemma of the day is which donut to stuff my face with. I justify by telling myself I contributed some good money to a relief charity and I have to keep living my life.

I laugh at the fact that one of my friends just asked me the other day what VG stands for. When I replied that it’s short for “very good” my friend says that’s one of the most profound things ever.

Besides the flat surf everything is going great. The light turns green and I’m halfway through the intersection when I pound my hand into the horn. A black H2 Hummer nearly rams my car’s side. I’m within a few yards of being turned into a flattened soda can by a vehicle that belongs in Iraq, not Surf City.

Thankfully my horn caused the red-light runner to burn rubber and screech to a halt. I looked in the windshield of the Hummer and saw a man, mid-40s wearing a snazzy blue button down shirt and slick shades. He didn’t look any different than most nouveau-riche here in the area. He didn’t apologize or wave me on. We just stared at each other for a few seconds. I learned my lesson long ago that giving someone the finger and yelling does nothing to change the situation; it only boils the blood pressure and creates harmful rage.

On I drive to VGs.

The episode is over with no harm done (with the exception perhaps to the ego of the Hummer driver) so I try to refocus on the present. But something prevents me from resuming my blissed-out vibes as I venture to my favorite guilty pleasure stop.

I realize that the H2 had a surfboard on its roof.

For some reason, every time I see a Hummer rumbling through town on the way to one of Surf City’s breaks, I cringe. I also feel the same way when I see a 10-foot longboard vertically situated in the back of a BMW convertible that’s the size of … um, a 10-foot longboard.

Why is it that I’m so judgmental with yuppie surfers? By labeling them as “yuppie surfers” am I perpetuating the dehumanizing act of labeling and generalizing? What is it about a board on a SUV that gets under my skin?

It’s my failure to just let it be and remind myself, “It is what it is.” No need to judge. I’d never purchase a car that costs over $50 to fill up. Nor would I help contribute to our country’s insatiable thirst for oil, which contributes to global warming and our government cozying up to corrupt Middle East regimes that are home to terrorists who would love to see surfers from Juneau to Imperial Beach surfing in a sea of ricin or botulism.

But it really doesn’t feed my spiritual growth by judging others based on what car they drive and how they transport their boards from land to sea.

There’s no need for me to immediately think of the Hummer surfer or the MG-convertible-owning-longboarder as a kook. After all, I drive a car. I’ve taken several hours-away surf trips. Maybe my Accord is emitting more carbon dioxide per year than the Hummer that almost ran me over.

Maybe I’ve fallen prey to being influenced by surf culture and preconceived notions of what’s cool and what isn’t. In my opinion a surfer driving from Rancho Santa Fe to Pipes in a Hummer is not cool. Surfing is a sport that should emphasize conservation and sharing. Owning a Hummer defies both these qualities.

But how do I know the Hummer surfer doesn’t donate thousands or millions to charity and only drives less than 20 miles a day? And I wonder what a classic VW Westphalia surfer thinks of me when seeing my 20K-plus car. Maybe I’m a kooky surf yuppie to the VW van-owning surf hippie. (There I go labeling again.)

Am I a hypocritical soul surfer? I am light years from living a sustainable, environmentally-neutral impact existence. My refrigerator instead of being stocked with home-grown veggies this week has more Styrofoam leftovers than I care to admit.

Only five years ago, it would be rare to see a Hummer-driving surfer pull up to the lot at Swami’s; now, it seems it’s not so rare. Maybe these behemoth vehicles that cost a few years worth of my salary symbolizes the gentrification of Surf City—something I hoped I’d never see.

I can only imagine what it must feel like for someone who was born and raised here and still surfs here to bear witness to the onslaught of the SUV surfing nation.

While Hoovering a chocolate glazed seated at an outside table at VGs—my decision was easy; there were no more honey glazed left—, I think to myself, “Holdup, homey! I’m totally judging myself for judging others. Is that wrong? Well, I don’t want to live judging, so it’s not really serving my best interests to judge myself.”

I pledge from now on to try and not judge myself or a Hummer-owning surfer. But for now, I’m going to need another donut or three to stave off a philosophical headache pondering the idiosyncrasies of Surf City culture.


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