6 Man

To my knowledge, Elvis Presley was not the best athlete. I’d seen him in a few surfing movies and perhaps substituting an ill toredor in one of his later films. Still, I don’t remember him having the ability to jump, block and spike like this. Ferocious. And when the chips were down, when his team was facing elimination, he wasn’t “all shook up.” Something’s going on here.

6 Man, a glorious blend of Halloween, Mardi gras, debauchery and sport, is a volleyball tournament held in Manhattan Beach during the first weekend in August. People wear insane costumes, create themed rituals, play a little volleyball, and of course, drink. Yes, drink.

There is some agreement with the volleyball tour and the municipalities allowing the “dry beach” rules to be stretched a bit. I tried to make my way to the organizer’s table and ask a few questions, perhaps even make a few toasts, but I had trouble seeing ten feet in front of me.

Spirited people, not spirits, hindered my vision. The beach was packed. The only landmark I could identify was the pier.

“There’s the water, there’s the boardwalk. Now what?”

The experience reminded me of 4th of July of old in San Diego – before the whole, “no drinking” bug bit local and state representatives. Either way, there were no complaints here. I didn’t hit one serve or set up one spike. I’m not even sure what team won the thing. But I had fun and in 6 Man, that’s the idea.

Lakers and Michael Jacksons and Priests, oh my. Most teams were clad in some kind of idiocy. Close your eyes. Imagine something you can put spin festively. Open your eyes. Sooner or later, you’d see the Ghostbusters, Ninja Turtles or nearly naked Beach Babes. The latter seemed to be the collective favorite.

Competition varied and there were even a few pros and ex-pros in the mix. I could not identify them, but other patrons were happy to help and point out the “who’s who” in 6 Man. When I asked about prizes, I received a few smirks and chuckles.

“Bragging rights, my man,” a gentleman with a ridiculously large wig announced. “We take this thing seriously, but not too seriously,” he followed as he began to pick out his beehive of a hairdo.

I had plenty of time to study the teams. I made endless efforts to find the camp of friendlies who invited me out. To no avail, I worked to find a signal on my phone. The sea of people made this difficult. Lifeguards denied my requests to use their megaphones. I didn’t recognize anyone.

I was stuck. And then, something amazing happened. I ran into the Elvises I mentioned previously. We spoke for a few minutes and realized we shared the same camp. Now we’re talking. “Thank you. Thank you very much.”

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