Dawn. Marina Del Rey, California. Mid-March---Wednesday.
The sun has just peeked over the horizon of the Pacific Ocean and I can still hear the noise from across the channel.
Someone has been partying all night in the condos over there just across the channel. The deck of the yacht that I live on is cold and damp and slippery as I make my way to the rail and raise a pair of hi-powered binoculars to my face. Yeah, it is spring break all right. The thunder of youthful release has been keeping people awake since last week. I can see topless girls and naked young athletes running around on the lawn near the docks on the other side of the water. It looks like they have Super Soaker water guns. I imagine that those mighty squirt toys are filled with tequila, but who knows. All I can see from here are the shadows of naked college kids romping in the pre-dawn light.
The party in general, I mean here in Marina Del Rey, has been going on for a week now and it will last at least a week more. These things usually take two weeks in all to rise and fall, from absolute calm to a hideous bone-breaking carnage.
Thank God I have to go to work in an hour and will miss the ongoing unrest.
When college students unleash a tempest of drunken hatred upon a rental community by the beach, it is a thing to avoid. I myself know this firsthand. I went to The University of Texas at Austin and engaged in this kind of unclean behavior throughout my entire undergraduate career.
It takes two weeks, depending on the region, for the spring break mayhem to come and go. With a whole week off from class and two weekends bracketing that week, it comes out to almost two full weeks. A community can count on that. But then you have stragglers who have to be run off---by the police or bands of angry locals. Some kids never want to go back to college at the end of spring break; some of them simply run out of money and get stranded. These fools stick around panhandling or looking for jobs and sleeping on the beach or in the bushes in the park. Some stragglers have behaved so badly that their friends have abandoned them and they have to wait for parents to send money to cover damages and travel expenses. In any event, after spring break there is always cleaning up to do, and young drunkards, criminals and dazed crime victims can be seen wandering the alleys and parking lots all over the westside of Los Angeles.
At the other end of spring break, at the beginning of week #1, there are the advanced teams who spearhead the initial influx. These are the hardcore partiers who look forward to this midterm orgy the whole year round. They are the smart kids who save their money and rent huge condominiums way ahead of time. They sell space anywhere they can to anyone who will buy. Any conceivable spot anywhere---in bedrooms, on couches and even on the floors goes to whoever comes first. Anyone who can come up with the cash gets a promise and a sneer. This is when occupancy rules become irrelevant and ridiculed.
These entrepreneurs factor in the cost of losing any security deposit on a rental and make sure to get their kicks in the calm days before the whole mob of friends, acquaintances and total strangers arrive and begin fighting with broken beer bottle for a place to crash.
The arrival of the barbarian horde happens gradually. You notice parking spaces out on the street beginning to fill up with cars with out-of-state license plates. Then all the parking lots are full one morning. The next thing you know there are security guards and parking attendants patrolling the area, waving people away from private property, directing traffic and stomping drunks.
Friday at 6 p.m. is when it becomes a time of total savagery. This is when you see some random act of insanity run out in front of you on Washington on your drive home from work. The town has gone berserk. Time to leave. Time to get out until it blows over. Not me. I always stay to watch.
Now, on Wednesday, this annual greek tragedy is in full effect. In another week this place will be a ghost town again, waiting for summer, but for now the whole marina and surrounding areas have sailed off the edge of the earth.
7:30 a.m. The sun is up, now and through my binoculars I see that some sane soul has finally called the police. The firm young nudity was ushered inside and open windows were ordered shut. The music can still be heard, but it is muted by thick panes of glass.
Taking a page out of these kids’ book, I go below and grab a bottle of beer. I climb back up on deck and notice that my neighbors along the dock have come out and are talking about the need for more police. These wrinkled minds are wondering out loud why it took so long to corral those monsters across the channel. I take a long chug out of my beer. This catches my neighbors’ gaze. They ask me directly if I plan on throwing a party on the docks. After all, I am the youngest dock dweller in residence.
“No, not me. I have work all this week. But I hear that there are plenty of kids who plan to steal their parents’ boats. I hear the party is gonna continue all this week. Baton down. The storm is coming”.
This causes these old folks and retirees to wither. The younger ones say they will crack some skulls if things get out of hand. The others just go below deck and hide.
The quiet of winter is not shattered all at once as if with a hand grenade, but with little crackles like tiny firecrackers; that build and build and build until it is the sound of a bomb.
The fuse it lit here on the docks. Those heathens are on their way. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if I came home from work tonight and found the yacht sunk, with only it’s mast sticking up out of the water at the end of the dock.
I finish my beer and stare out at the rising sun. Thank God I am still young enough to appreciate this madness. That God I am old enough to have a job. Thank God this place is secure and I can escape it anytime I want.