U.S. Open of Surfing
Huntington Beach , July 28
When we were invited to drop by the U.S. Open of Surfing to say hi to Gabrielle Christian and Mandy Musgrave from South of Nowhere, this little outing seemed like a great idea. Hang out with the SoN girls, watch some professional women surfers battle it out, and eat overpriced corndogs of dubious origins on the beach. What could possibly go wrong?
I scooped up my event photographer (yep, it was Buddy) and we made the 60-mile trek to Huntington Beach, listening to vintage Melissa Etheridge, talking about the first time we ever heard "Somebody Bring Me Some Water," then realizing in tandem that we are so gay.
A few miles away from the beach we hit a traffic jam that didn’t move. As we inched toward the beach, I assured both of us that we could pull into the closest lot and hoof it the rest of the way to the event. But there were no lots. None. There was only the standard beach parking lot that had probably filled up at dawn.
Huntington Beach hosts the U.S. Open of Surfing, and they don’t even create additional parking. I felt like the dad in Poltergeist who screams at greedy developer: "You left the bodies! You only moved the head stones!"
Mandy and Gabi were only scheduled to be there for a couple of hours, so I started to fret as the clock moved forward and my car didn’t. I asked Buddy if she was willing to take one for the team (the team being AfterEllen.com in this instance), and she agreed, hopping out of the car with her camera, going off to find the South of Nowhere tent. I meant to tell her to look for the long line of teenaged girls and embarrassed 40-something lesbians trying to hide behind their ball caps.
For the next two hours, I drove around looking for parking. I listened to Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black, then all three of Pete Yorn’s studio albums. Back to back. His mellow vibe kept me from ramming into people with my car.
My photographer was having a better time of it â€” sort of. She easily found the girls and got a great pic of them, then spent the rest of the time wading through an unreasonably large crowd.
I would periodically get texts from her: "U here yet?" or "Man, this parking thing sucks!" But then her mood turned, and I started to get texts along the lines of "Too many dudes here with no shirts and B.O. Ugh." And "If I get pushed one more time â€¦" She went radio silent for a while, and I hoped she was watching a woman surf and was not handcuffed to a chair in the security tent.
Eventually, I gave up. The parking gods had smote me. I texted her, "We’re outta here," and told her where to meet me. As I inched toward her on the corner, it was clear that she’d had some sort of beach makeover. She was sporting a pink mesh trucker hat, had gotten rid of her shirt in favor of her tank top, and had some kind of surf lingo spray-painted down the side of her leg.
She told me that I was lucky that I had been in the car the whole time, then listed all the reasons why (sunburn, claustrophobia, the guys with B.O.). It did make me feel a little better.
We finally got out of the traffic snarl and found a Cuban restaurant that had cold beer and warm tapas. And then we headed back to L.A.