A sign on a large beachfront home had a couple of our readers irate, so perturbed they snapped a picture and emailed it to us.
The sign read, “Show us your ” um, bare chest.
I suspect it wasn’t intended for me or any other man and has long been one of the most popular Bike Week catch phrases.
“Kindly distribute this to our town leaders,” the email read. “Not only do we residents and property owner have to endure the noise and loose [sic] our sleep but now the children are effected [sic]. I would like to know how this promotes a family beach. Looks like greed of sales tax is more important than our values.”
The use of the word values is instructive, because I sympathize with the sentiment.
I have two small kids who are as inquisitive as they come.
And they notice everything – everything.
A sign like that is unlikely to miss their notice. What type of values am I trying to instill? And do signs such as this make that more difficult?
I’m raising them along the Grand Strand, one of the nation’s most popular resort areas.
Though this is our place of residence for 365 days of the year, for about 14 million tourists, it is the devil’s playground a few days or weeks every summer season.
If we are to be honest, it’s more personal than that. It’s hard for most people to drive to church without encountering a large billboard much more explicit than asking women to expose their mammary glands to the world.
In other words, tens of thousands of Bike Week and Atlantic Beach Memorial Day Bikefest participants don’t drag debauchery on trailers with them along with high-powered and expensive motorcycles; they come because of this area’s perceived debauchery.
And one reason we are known as the golfing capital of the world is because of our high-concentration of gentlemen’s clubs.
It’s an uncomfortable fact that tourists who come to play remind us of, even though we like to pretend they bring all the bad stuff with them.
But it’s akin to living in Atlantic City and being appalled by a tourist playing three-card-Monty on a sidewalk or being angry in Las Vegas because a group of young, drunk revelers loudly brags about the prostitutes they visited the previous night.
Weeks like these are weird, counterintuitive.
Residents still have to get up every morning and go to work and school even as tourists – and a significant number of locals – challenge the peace and upset the tranquility we believe we’ve earned.
But the odd thing is that their presence, and the signs they bring, are a positive reflection of one of our most important values, freedom.
City and county officials have already done a lot to make the events more manageable, less chaotic and burdensome to residents.
Ironically, the less orderly things seem, the more freedom is on display.
With freedom comes disparate voices and cultures constantly clashing because so many people with varied views and backgrounds get to be heard – and seen.
That’s why strippers and preachers and bikers and teachers all represent this place we call the Grand Strand.
That’s why one person feels empowered to display a sign asking women to break indecency laws, while another feels empowered to complain about the indecency of the sign itself.
And that’s why it’s cool to live in this area – even during Bike Week, maybe especially during Bike Week.