Tourists, by definition, travel for the purpose of pleasure. The definition fails to specify whether that pleasure belongs to the traveler or to someone else. Tourists visiting Virginia Beach, at least when I was a kid, probably thought they were feeling pleasure when purchasing stupid neon tee shirts, eating crappy seafood, and sitting in Atlantic Avenue traffic. What the local surfers experienced at the tourists’ expense, now THAT was pleasure.
Being a surfer on the East Coast ain’t easy. In summer, when the days are endless and the waves gutless, boredom is the enemy. Surfers look around for something to do, and they see…tourists, trolley loads of ’em.
The ways in which surfers “express their appreciation” for tourists are many. I cannot possibly list them all here. After much consideration, I’ve whittled it down to ten. Hopefully it pleasures you.
10. Skid Mark – There’s nothing more relaxing than a leisurely stroll along the boardwalk, inhaling the salt air and feeling the layers of stress peel away. Suddenly, the dream is shattered by the nearby screech of tires, and every muscle tenses in advance of the coming impact. “Get off the bike path, you dumbass!” You’re still alive, and the punk kid on the beach cruiser pedals away cackling. Little did you know, this way a planned attck. Better check your drawers.
9. One Way Jay – One of my old haunts, Sea Level Surf Shop, sat on a one-way street. Tourists regularly drove the wrong way. My buddy Jay and I took it upon ourselves to uphold the law. Whilst hanging on the front deck at Sea Level, we watched for offenders like we were Starsky and Hutch. We’d run screaming into the street and make the drivers turn around, even though they were mere inches from the end of the block. If they resisted, we threatened a citizen’s arrest. Invariably, they flipped a U-turn and drove off thinking, “That little prick just made me his bitch.”
8. Speed Bump – After a hard day of one-way traffic enforcement, Jay and I liked to unwind with a surf session at 15th Street pier. The clock struck five, ending the blackball, and we were straight into a crowd of targets…er, swimmers. Points were awarded for scares, hits, and the ultimate, drawing blood. We never intentionally hit anyone, but with the lineup jammed with human bobbers, contact was inevitable.
7. Sand Smackdown – No one could piss people off like my friend Woody. He was a master. One crowded beach day at the Jetty, he had the idea of getting into a fake fight and causing as much mayhem as possible. We started with a shouting match followed by two blocks of cussin’ and wrasslin’. We made sure to trample as many towels as possible, kicking sand and knocking over coolers along the way.
6. How Much for Your Daughter? – This ultimate act of fair trade dates back over a century to the original tourist wranglers, the Waikiki beachboys. The thinking goes like this: You visit our beach, sit on our sand, and swim in our waves. No problem, we take your daughter. Or at least borrow her for a few hours. My friend Jeff was an intrepid hunter of tourist chicks, providing these young maidens with loads of memories to get them through another dreary winter in Ohio.
5. Robbin’ the Hood – Again, the Hawaiians were trailblazers in the field of tourist comeuppance. Legendary surfer Larry Bertlemann once described to me how he and his band of bruddahs scoured the parking lots around Ala Moana in the early seventies, relieving vehicles of their stray cash and car stereos. Somebody had to teach those visitors not to leave valuables laying around.
4. Porta Prison – Suffering from claustrophobia ever since my brother Derrick locked me inside a porta potty way back when, this is one I could never bring myself to take part in. Still, it happened. A lot. No self-respecting surfer could watch an unknowing tourist step inside a large plastic box with a lock on the outside without thinking, “This is too easy!” So why stop there? Typically, the incarceration included a thorough shaking for good measure. Occasionally, the prank reached its zenith with the perpetrator tipping the porta potty on its side. I should be thankful that Derrick spared me such a gruesome fate as I’d still be scrubbing to remove the stench.
3. Which Way to the Beach? – When I’m lost, I never look to a wiseass kid for salvation. Talk about asking for trouble. It’s like saying, “Excuse me young man, do you mind sending me on a dot-to-dot through the city?” I directed plenty a station wagon pilot driving into the ghetto instead of the waterpark. In my mind, some of these wayward tourists are still driving around in circles.
2. Stinkin’ Lincoln – While not as cost effective as the reusable “Dollar-on-a-string,” this gag offers a huge bang for your buck. I didn’t see this in action until I was an adult, and I was too cheap to do it anyway. Rather than hoarding their bills for Happy Meals, the next generation of groms slathered the underside of a dollar with doggy doo and dropped it on the boardwalk. Any unsuspecting passerby snatched up the money and shoved it straight in his pocket. Realization, and hilarity, quickly ensued.
1. Shoobie Shower – They’ve since “fixed” the drainage along Atlantic Avenue, but in our day huge puddles formed on the side of the road after a rain. When driving along, sometimes you couldn’t help but throw up a wall of water. There was nothing better than seeing a tourist family singing, “I can see clearly now that the rain is gone,” unknowingly walking past a puddle. Derrick once pulled off the coup de gras, an unprecedented Double Shoobie Shower. We doused a guy, then circled the block and did it again. He chased after us for a block or so, but his waterlogged clothes eventually got the better of him.