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Get localized
By Brian Brannon

Reprinted from the Seal Beach Sun, a weekly community newspaper where Brian previously worked as editor.

There are times when being a local can be an advantage. And then there are other times when it can be a severe liability.

On the plus side, if you surf Seal Beach pier, the Rivermouth or virtually any other consistent break during a good swell, you're likely to see a group of people there who know each other and the way the waves break fairly intimately.

If you're one of the crew, they'll show you a certain amount of favoritism when it comes to letting you cantch waves.

If they don't, good luck.

I heard this type of attitude summed up pretty succinctly in Santa Cruz one time with the phrase, "I don't know you so I don't owe you."

But then again, there are times when being a local means you should have known better.

Case in point: One time I was in Boulder, Colorado, visiting a lady friend of mine. We had taken a drive up Flagstaff Mountain and I noticed the main road was a long, straight, two-lane highway with a nice slope, perfect for downhill skateboarding.

As we were driving back, the traffic was pretty tight. Heading up, the cars were almost stopped. On the way down, it was still congested but the cars were moving at a steady clip.

Since I had my downhill board with me I was able to talk Jan into letting me out so I could shoot the hill while she followed in her VW Bug to keep anyone from coming up my tailpipe.

The run started out smooth and flowing. I was rolling along at about 43 m.p.h. and, as the Nissan commercials say, enjoying the ride.

Then I spied the red cherries of a State Trooper car coming up the hill in the other direction. No big deal, I thought to myself. What's he going to do, pull into my lane and hit me head on?

Next thing I knew I saw his lights start flashing and sure enough he pulled into my lane and started coming right at me.

Time to think fast.

The way I saw it, I had two choices: Ride off the side of the road or stay in my lane and play chicken. If he didn't pull off I could jump in the air just before we hit, hop on his hood, leap over the top and maybe even land back on my board on the other side.

There were only two drawbacks with this theory. One, it would probably make him pretty mad. And two, if I missed and put my foot through his windshield instead of on his hood, not only would he be pretty mad, I would find myself caught in a painful predicament.

All of this reasoning took about a split second to flash through my brain because that was about all the time I had to decide.

Logic prevailed and I chose to ride off the side of the road. Of course, the side of the road was covered with dirt, gravel and vegetation, so I took quite a tumble, but I'm sure it wasn't half as bad as the one I would have taken had I missed the other leap.

The officer got out and asked me what I thought I was doing.

"Skateboarding," I said.

He asked if I knew skateboarding on roads in Colorado was illegal.

"No, sir," I said. "I'm from out of town."

A quick inspection of my I.D. proved I wasn't from around there. Good thing I wasn't a local or I would have had no excuse.