Laguna Beach. Another perfect day in Paradise, but oh no, there are the trolleys. I know. I know. Everybody likes the trolleys, but me. I can’t help myself. The trolleys are like the swallows that return to Capistrano without the annual cost overruns on gas and maintenance. According to aviary birdbrains, swallows genetically are programmed to pay their own way and do not accumulate free frequent flier miles or fly through airport hubs. Like Southwest Airlines, swallows fly into Capistrano and then drive themselves to the destination of their choice. Bags fly free.
The trolleys represent an annual pilgrimage and the marking of a new season. Swallows and trolleys mean tourists. There are busloads of them, these riders of the summer storm. There are an estimated six million people, all, eating, pooping, and asking directions. “Where’s the nearest restroom?” they ask to which I reply, “You could of asked directions first. Let me call parks and sanitation for the ocean friendly poop bags. Enjoy your stay. ”
Hotels, restaurants, merchants, and artists love tourists, housebroken or not. They’re economically good for the town and I’m happy for everybody, but me, who hates to share this paradise. I guess I’m a bit of a loner. During the winter months, I have a face painted soccer ball named Spaulding, a friend that goes farther back than Tom Hanks’ friend named Wilson. Cast away and off my hunk of paradise. And no, Spaulding has never been to the volleyball courts at Main Street Beach to be set up and spiked by swim suited tourists that can’t appreciate Spaulding as a dear friend, but would use and abuse him to merely score points over other disabused tourists. To what end is the meaning of this midsummer night’s nightmare?
During the annual maelstrom, I might as well be booked on a cruise. To the unaware, cruises are actually floating shopping malls that are able to get outside the three mile limit, kidnap tourists for an extended period, shake them down of all available credit lines and then expunge the penniless victims to shore so they can immediately begin plans to sponge off bob square panted relatives for next year’s cruise heralded to get everybody almost to the shore of Italy. Docking optional and BYO personal floatation devices advised. For the record, I prefer Thomas the Train, who has never taken anybody for a ride, as far as I know.
I believe that I dislike trolleys because of my childhood experiences. In the eighth grade, I was head over trolley wheels in love with a girl named Jill. I sent her a secret note by way of her girlfriends to meet me at the Pittsburgh Incline. (For young readers, note passing was far quicker and more reliable than today’s texting and tweeting that sadly relies on cloud computing rather than girl gossiping.) The Pittsburgh Incline comprises two trolleys that go up and down a huge hill. The trolley going down the hill uses gravity to pull the opposite trolley up the hill. Unfortunately, when I arrived at the top of the hill, there was no Jill to be found anywhere around. Assuming the rendezvous was at the bottom of the hill, I took the next trolley down. As the two trolleys passed each other in the middle of the hill, lo and behold, there was my arch nemesis, Jack with Jill. Of all people, Jack was a three sports letterman, class president and could grow a beard. Whereas, I was a member of the chess club, assigned to audio-visual support and could not grow a beard no matter how hard I concentrated on it. And what did I do to win the favor of this fair maiden?
Well, as Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water, I went down and drank their round. Then Jill came down to break my crown and Jack came rumbling after. So the moral of this trolley story is to yell out loud and clear “next stop” or become “next stomped” by Laguna’s visiting tourists.
Mark is a recent transplant to Laguna from Chicago.