Sunday, July 22, 2018

This Week In Not Surfing

The wages of sin is death. And I've been swimming. That line repeated throughout my youth in the most inconspicuous ways. Romans 6:23. The grammar never quite sat snug in my ear, which is probably why it's sat so long. And I've been swimming. I haven't touched the wet side of a surfboard in a couple months, an effect conjuring both horror and hope. If I can torture myself this long every time, I reckon I can do just about anything. Like Hannah Gadsby, during culture's most recent beatification, "white men are the canary in the coal mine, if they aren't doing well, what chance do the rest of us have?"

Interestingly, on the occasion (if we can just eek to it) of some great reckoning of white male perpetration, the observed academic takeaway will be incredibly interesting; the desired effect of a paradigm shifting wide-spread cultural accreditation and acceptance of shame being truly the solitary instance of that particular emotion being so fulsomely adopted by the sexual predator rather than his victim.

Amidst the petulance, both real and imagined, no doubt there will be humans with answers of all sorts.

And there is the old double cliché that New Yorkers are rude married to its equal, the retort that New Yorkers are honest. The conventional wisdom being that New Yorkers will punch you in the conversational face while Angelinos will stab you in the relational back and Midwesterners will offer you another slice of pie, or sausage or whatever makes you feel most awkwardly welcome. It is true that the threat of confrontation is a palpable constant the moment you step into the Five Boroughs. It is often a defensively aggressive habit that has traditionally approached and departed with refreshing alacrity. And being perceived as the the soul of the New York character, a kind of brand commodity sold via countless movie characters to the world. Subsequently misconstrued as actionable anger, the endemic crankiness is traditionally a far more bite-less bark. But the lore is being shilled back to us now, with an extra bit of unnecessary cause & effect borne of a Wild West misconstrual that demands instant comeuppance. This foreign attribution a perfidy to the meaningful ineffectuality of the original.

And I'll admit that when someone prefaces their authoritative statement with "'s what I like to call," or " I like to say," my hackles go instantly to their most erect. If you insist on me being more than I am, I'll insist on being given an instruction manual written in my own language.

And here on Long Island:

A chain of nine teenagers stand in line along the shorepound, arms linked as in a game of Red Rover. Their screams of glee at the inevitable wallop like the joy of a tickled toddler. 

The wetsuits hang about the two boys like wet sheets on a clothesline. Their boards, one a yellowing potato chip, the other an aging buoy single fin. They ride them prone, tipsy. But they feel like surfers. Like real surfers.

When the sea is happy, its most happy, it turns a color of silvery green and plays with itself. I'm fortunate to have seen humans in the approximate state.

"The beach is just something you cross to get to the surf." I used to repeat this until it subsumed a whole portion of available synapses like a Transcendental Meditation mantra. It is no longer a relevant totem.

I love the beach.