Saturday, January 26, 2019

This Week In Not Surfing

“Here’s the thing with that guy
He’s insanely into history of surf skate
And he happens to be really good
So that comes off as Asshole
But he’s just protective of our culture even to other surfers and skaters”

When I was in junior high- the worst time for a nerd like me- the jocks were the skaters. The bullies wore surf t-shirts and had cool haircuts; they weren’t football players or preppies. They were perfecting kick flips in the parking lot and ganging up on the rest of us during lunch. Mine was a Bizarro universe, apparently. Everywhere else they were the outcasts who would become the winners of the future. In my town they were beating me up for being a four-eyes. 

The flight attendant announces a severe peanut allergy on board in the forward compartment. Unfortunately, to allay any possible complication, there will be no peanuts served as an in-flight snacks. By way of compensation for this severe inconvenience, passengers are invited to request as many of the other snacks on offer as they wish. Luckily we packed tamales.

My wife’s grandmother, a truly diminutive Mexican American with a proud, beaked nose, piercing, shiny eyes and white, white hair, always has something to observe of her granddaughters upon greeting. Usually it is a comment on dimension. Things like "oh my, you feel sturdy.”

My brother-in-law works at the Wave Ranch. We don’t talk about it that often- there isn’t much to say really- but a month ago something happened that became the center of our conversation during the holiday. Turning up as usual to provide his onsite services, he finds Gerry Lopez there among the small crowd of fake-barrel hunters. And, as it happens, by midday all the other participants either beg off or tweak a back, leaving my brother-in-law three afternoon hours trading waves with one of history’s most iconic and enigmatic surfers. The excitement we share as he recounts the experience catches some glancing sarcasm from my wife’s sister, his wife, a mistake met with the full force of our hagiophilia. “He walked on water!” “Turned water to wine!” “Raised that one dude from the dead!” All true, metaphorically or otherwise.

The return from California takes us over the beaches of Long Island. The water is very calm but I can make out some raking white-wash. There are a dozen tankers anchored offshore, waiting for something, someone. Where the ocean passes over the underwater ridge, I see on one side an olive and on the other, a certain kind of grape.

I’ve never easily connected with the concern for certain sorts of cultural protectionism. If it’s yours, it’s yours. And humans created all the languages in the world to borrow, steal and communicate. But loners are picked off. And if you’re not a picked-off loner, you’re fooling yourself.

May the byways of your brain always be paved with a curious agnosticism.