The words “skateboard” and “sweet” are seldom found together. Skateboarders tend to have a bad reputation because they are mostly male, because they act too male, and because of their lamentable fashion sense. Yet, many or most are both athletes and artists. They do things in the middle of my street of such perilous inventiveness that I am not brave enough even to think about them.
So, the other day, I am watching the ocean on West Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz. Now, West Cliff is a sea-hugging street with a million dollar view of Monterey Bay. (I mean this literally: Move the same house that has the ocean view one block inland and its value drops by a cool million or more.) West Cliff is a good place for spotting whales but it’s mostly used by many Santa Cruz residents as a walking venue and a place to ride their bikes.
Suddenly, from the corner of my eye, I spot a man on a skateboard. Skateboarders seldom use West Cliff. It’s often crowded, it’s too ordinary, and it offers few opportunities to do tricks. This skateboarder is a bit older than most, perhaps in his early thirties. He is moving quite fast, I think. A six year-old is clinging to his left leg, a four year-old to his right leg. It’s stunning and it’s adorable. The next day one who knows more than I tells me that it must have been an electrically propelled skateboard. I love living in California. The inventiveness here is bracing.
Not a day later, I am standing in from of the Post Office shooting the breeze with my pal, Dennis the Homeless. (Dennis is homeless, not brainless; he knows a lot and he makes bamboo flutes.) My mind can’t believe what my eyes see. If I had been asked, I would have said it couldn’t be done. A boy and a girl are skateboarding together, each with his own board but holding hands. The harmony, the intuitive synchronicity! Ah, young love! The sweet music they must make in bed. Again, I don’t know where else I would be treated to this kind of spontaneous, charming show.