Wednesday, January 17, 2018

This Week In Not Surfing

1. “We must get back to civil discourse.” I’ve heard this a lot lately. Of course when exactly was civil discourse? When it was solely between a few fellas of a certain socio-economic cultural background? So everything is called into question. That game we always play is only poisoned now. “What other time period would you live in if you could?” In this the assumption that you’d be traveling back in time only to be at top of the heap. The dream to somehow teleport myself to the Hawaiian Islands or to Southern California during the late Forties and Fifties rests on the qualification that I’m a white guy with a straw hat, a guitar and a surfboard. I’m not pining to be a farm worker unless it’s all part of the adventure of rummaging up a couple more bucks for gas. I’m not hoping to find myself a Kauwa under heel of some Ali’i. I want to be the Ali’i. Or at least his buddy. So it’s all up for grabs. All the desire in the world to go backward will only get you there.

2. There’s a similarity with all this fetishizing of surfing culture. A whole lot of fetishizing. Arbitrary hierarchy. Desperate oneupmanship. Macho brinksmanship. There’s a quota system here.

3. When I was twenty or so, the owner of the coffee shop where I was working invited me on a surf trip down to Mexico for a long weekend. His nephew was with us and he didn’t surf. After a few sessions at San Miguel he announced he liked my surfing the best. Everyone’s eyebrows raised a little. The next day my longboard finbox cracked leaving me with no choice but to ride the fat little thruster I brought along as backup for the rest of the trip. He didn’t make that same pronouncement twice.

4. A number of years ago I was surfing alone around this side of the Montauk Lighthouse on the other side of a hurricane swell on the purple 70’s Sunset Surfboard pintail single fin without a leash. Big, fat lefts rolling through breaking far enough off the rocks at first. I wasn’t in the best surf shape and I’ve never been able to surf that board going backside and a few sets in I had lost my board, swimming around in the mush as the peak was getting closer and closer to the bunker. Suddenly outta nowhere the famous hairdressing surfer paddles straight in my direction, obviously thinking this was gonna be a life-saving situation, me kooking about and all. As he approached, recognition washed over his face, “oh, it’s you. Ok.” He turned around and paddled off again.

5. Jamie let me sleep on his couch, make him scrambled eggs and even loaned me his favorite hybrid twin fin to surf down the locked gate at Pt. Dume. I had a ball on that board until I rode it up onto the rocks by accident.

6. Mid 90's and a couple guys had a zodiac we’d put in at Gaviota and boat up to The Ranch. Just after I sold my performance thruster longboard to Jon it lay on the bottom of the pile strapped down. We didn’t count on the metal brackets underneath the heap. By the time we pulled up to pristine Rights & Lefts, Jon’s new board had been performing as a fragile shock absorber, leaving him with two massive canyons just inside the rail.

7. On Saturday morning I lay in bed, awake, wondering how long I can go without speaking. My three year old comes in and starts asking me questions. He always asks questions. Smart. I just shake my head and put my finger to my lips. I wander downstairs to make eggs. My eleven year old asks me a question as I descend the stairs. He’s always asking questions. Smart. I just shake my head and smile, giving him a kiss. My wife looks up, smells my vibe and just shakes her head. It’s 9:30 before I say a word.

8. And they said it was going to be an unseasonably warm winter. It’s been frigid. On Sunday I forgo the surf. It’s a good size and clean looking on Instagram but Antonio doesn’t call back and I’ll be damned if I’m going to suffer alone. Besides, it’s Erin’s birthday and Chris has planned a mid-morning trip to the bowling alley to celebrate. And while I protest to hate bowling, there’s something unseasonably warm about it. And I end up enjoying the bowling just fine.

9. The next day we allow ourselves the elongated luxury of a thorough spot check. “Should we paddle out here?” “I dunno, maybe we should check Lido.” “Yeah.” This goes on for far more checks than there are actual spots. Core temperature preservation through lazy procrastination. During the meandering drive, Antonio posits that should he ever write an autobiography the title would be It Was A Younger Man’s Game.

10. Tuesday morning we agree to put on our wetsuits at home. This somehow does wonders for courage. The waves are small, clean and crisp. Better than Monday thanks to a drop in wind. I wear my big, pink softtop and only get flushed a couple times. But my still-wet-from-the-day-before wetsuit manages to take a toll even after being really wet for only an hour. I don’t know how it does that. The new wetness isn’t cold at all. It’s that old wetness. Legacy wetness chills to the bone.

11. And then there’s the itchy butt. The worst itchy butt I ever had was on one of those rides back from The Ranch. On the ride back to Brooklyn I opine that the old New York art scene was a bloody gash while the new New York art scene is just sweaty pores. Antonio gets it.


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