Monday, June 11, 2007

Learning to Surf

It’s not like surfing is something that I felt was missing from my arsenal of hobbies. I’m not the best swimmer, I don’t particularly like the beach, and I hate the Beach Boys. So, I can’t explain why I wanted to learn how to surf. Maybe it was all those cool Wide World of Sports shows when I was a kid. They would always have the surfer dude holding the winning trophy explaining how he survived the most narliest of waves. He would be surrounded by a gorgeous Hawaiian babe with a set of huge ripe pineapples and a nice set of tits too.

Initially, I thought how dangerous could it be? You just stand on a board with water underneath it. It will move or sway a bit from side to side, but it's not a big deal. I have good balance most times, when sober. It can’t be dangerous like playing football. Football is violent; you have collisions with 300lb goons running full speed toward you. Surfing doesn’t have 300lb goons. It’s just you and Mother Nature. Yes, it’s true that when Mother Nature is on the rag she can make a 300lb football goon look as passive as Paris Hilton entering the prison shower, but I still didn’t think it would difficult to learn, especially since it was a sunny relatively wind free day when I attempted.

A friend of mine lent me his father’s surfboard he got when he was a teenager, He bragged how it was a Gordon and Smith longboard circa 1967; as if that might register any other type of reaction from me than “Yeah, so what?” He said his dad hadn’t used it since ’71 when he went overseas. I assumed he was talking about Vietnam and his dad had a tour of duty bravely defending our freedom. It turns out I was wrong. His dad was a hippie and overseas meant following the Grateful Dead around Europe. It wasn’t so much a tour of duty, more like of a tour of Amsterdam weed cafes. He told me if you play the Dead’s “Europe ‘72” album backwards you can hear his dad screaming “Richard Nixon raped Mia Farrow” over and over again toward the middle of Sugar Magnolia. He laughed and said his dad always told him “Son, always stay away from the brown acid” That must have been a real Hallmark moment between father and son.

My wife was playing with the kids in the sand when I took my borrowed board and headed toward the ocean. There were two other surfers in the ocean, easily riding waves, as I thought about how simple surfing is. I noticed their boards were much sleeker than mine. They had fiberglass, my old board was wood. As he rode in, one of the surfers snickered and said “Nice board, did you pick that out of the trash?” Quick to respond I shot back “It’s a Smith and Wesson!” before realizing Smith and Wesson make guns not surfboards. The other surfer responded “Smith and Wesson?" "I guess you will shoot right through the waves then?” They both wore faggy fluorescent jumpsuits and chuckled at my expense like giddy school girls. I wore my durable Wrangler dungaree cutoffs and wife beater tee. Their attire may have been more appropriate for surfing, but at least I didn’t look like The Village People meets The Beach Boys.

I placed my board against my chest and made my way into the ocean. I lied face down as the calm ripple lifted the board ever so slightly. So far, so good. Now I will just go up on my knees, and then stand up. Up on my knees, still on the board, balance is good…I was born to surf! I went from knees to feet standing confidently on that old board riding the wave, shooting the curl, hanging ten, and doing all the other shit that us great surfers do!!

That was until I actually encountered what can be classified as a wave.

I saw it coming from the distance and my thoughts jumped between “I got this” to “My ass is dead”. The once blue sun-filled sky I faced was now eclipsed by a wall of water rushing toward me. I felt the board jut forward from under my feet, it was now titled at the same angle as the angry wave behind it. The board smashed full force into my face, bloodied my nose, and temporarily knocked me out. When I came too seconds later, I puked a warm surge of water mixed what felt like a box of salt. I knew my nose was broken. The pain in my face was soon rivaled by the pain on my legs from the jellyfish stings.

I cried out “Help me, help me, I’m drowning!!” only to be greeted by wife and my two kids who were standing in water that was as deep as the kids thighs. Apparently I either washed violently back to shore or the more likely scenario; I didn’t go as far out as I thought?. “I knew you wouldn’t be able to surf!! “ What the hell is wrong with you??” screamed my wife. “Besides the broken nose, the jellyfish sting marks surrounding my ass, and my renewed hatred of surfing, I’m good, but thanks for asking you unsupportive bitch!” I said.

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