Saturday, September 5, 2015

The Only Thing To Do On Vacation Is Eat (or) Notes On A Montauk Family Surf Excursion Vol. 2

It is, I assume, perhaps project, a rather ordinary thing for someone to cringe when overhearing themselves described as, or being floridly introduced as, a "surfer." I guess I assume this because the guttural contraction I feel, the suddenly tightening sphincter reassessment my body undergoes, is of such an involuntary nature I can't imagine anyone not finding this sort of thing terribly cringe-worthy and blatantly uncomfortable.

It has something to do with my own eternal, internal wannabe status, begotten of a Seattle-bred youth, reading surf magazines voraciously but getting into the actual act inadmissibly late in the game. My wife would, perhaps correctly, point out that this is just another instance of a self-imposed and entirely specious "outsider" insecurity I insist on maintaining on many fronts. But the fact is, I can't stomach being described as a surfer as I actually get into the water so inconsistently. Skiers, a group to whom I feel I have a far more substantial creation-myth claim to fraternity, have always had what I've found an annoying way of talking up how many "days" they've gotten in a seasonal year. The aggrandizement has always grossed me out. But the fact is, that sort of thing apparently still courses through my veins. I can't help but default to that claptrap when assessing my own identity.

Reading William Finnegan's Barbarian Days, or rather hearing him speak about writing Barbarian Days, or rather hearing him muse about how difficult he found the idea of writing the surf-centered memoir called Barbarian Days, opened my eyes to a different angle on this assumptive universal heebiejeebie. Finnegan has lived the life of the "real surfer" in the most elemental senses. His ruddered stoke has been so unfailing, his commitment so enduring, he is one of those types that you'd naturally introduce as a "surfer" without a single blanche. He of the Californian and Hawaiian wave-drenched childhood; the months spent surfing Kirra on the Gold Coast and the Maui's Honolua Bay; the camping out on untouched and pre-commercial Tavarua; the mastery of the critical Jardim Do Mar. And yet he has gone through his life never letting on, even purposefully obscuring the fact. In effect, it seems to be entirely readable that his anus twitters just the same as mine upon salutational definition of the dreaded taxonomy. Given, from a completely different set of insecurities.

I'm not quite sure how that makes me feel so much better about my presumptions, or why I insist on feeling good about having the presumption, but it does and I do.

Besides, if I were a surfer, would I be sporting this dad bod?

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