Swim Gang!

, , , , , | Friendly | November 15, 2019

(One summer evening when I’m in my late teens or early twenties, a few friends and I go to a free concert at a local public beach. During a break in the concert, two of my friends and I walk to a quieter, less crowded area of the beach to talk a bit. As we’re talking, a boy who appears to be 10 to 12 years old comes up to us. For context, all of the people involved in this story are white males.)

Boy: “Excuse me, you’re not allowed to go swimming right now. There’s no lifeguard on duty.”

(We’re fully clothed and not standing close to the water, so it should be reasonably obvious that we have no intention of going in. Nevertheless, I figure the kid is just trying to be helpful. I respond politely:)

Me: “Don’t worry; we weren’t planning to go swimming. Thanks anyway.”

(He seems satisfied with that answer and wanders off. We think this is the end of it and we go back to our conversation, but not three minutes later, the kid is back.)

Boy: “Excuse me. Are you three a gang?”

Me: “Um… no.”

Boy: “We don’t like gangs here. If you’re a gang, I’m going to have to kick you off the beach.”

(Too bewildered to say anything, we just stared at him in shock as he wandered away again. Not surprisingly, no one kicked us off the beach, but our newfound status as a “gang” became a running joke for several years thereafter.)

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