The Thin Line Between Respect…

…and pity. It was, and I’m trying to remember, not my first wipeout of the day, and, I’m pretty sure, not my first tumble underwater. After three or four waves where I was pitched on the takeoff, one where I just couldn’t pull the nose up enough to make the drop, five or six times where I got knocked off my board; this was a wave I tried to back out of.

I should mention that I also got six or seven ‘corner shots,’ quick drops and out to the non-shoulder; one wave where, the lip about to blast me, I hung on, sideslipped quite a ways, sort of recovered; and I got a couple of air drops and a couple of waves I was pretty happy with; and I got two I was really stoked on. Screamers.

And it wasn’t like I was the only one getting worked. Everyone got a share. There were up to six surfers vying for position in a lineup that’s essentially ten feet left to right and five feet inside to outside. Every surfer had a certain success/wipeout ratio, with, I’m guessing, each one happy with this drop or that tube.

And, maybe there’s some connection with my hitting the bottom with this: After the last time I visited this spot, the tide still not high enough to make it, um, slightly less sketchy (didn’t go out- no room for a big board), Trish, viewing the photos on my phone, asked, “Do you have a helmet?”


That’s exactly what I was thinking when I hit the rocks. That, Trish and her warning about the big rocks throughout the lineup, and hoping I didn’t hit hard enough to get knocked out or something.

So, I was actually ready to go in. After an earlier working, separated from my board, Chris, himself washed to the inside, asked if I was all right. “Yeah,” I said, yelling over the noise, “I’m just trying to stay out long enough to save (I probably meant keep) face.” “What?” I caught a couple more quick in-and-outs, missed an outside wave Aaron was yelling for me to go on, caught a decent wave and then…

Yes, I’m going on a bit too much for a common wipeout, but, really, I can’t remember the last time I tried to back out of a wave, then went over the falls. I’m sure it was the second tumble that put me in contact with the gravel, and the smaller rocks. When I came up, I still couldn’t stand up. Too much current pushing around the inside bar; flopping around like a twice-whacked fish on the deck.

Seeing someone on the beach, I motioned to the top of my head. Seeing a guy holding a kid, who I mistakenly thought was Mike Squintz (as opposed to Mike-E, who prefers not to be nick-named ‘Smoker Mike’, though he still smokes), and, when I staggered closer to the steep beach, I (I’m blaming the head wound) yelled, “Fuck, yeah I hit my head!” Sorry kid.

So, I pulled back my hood. “Am I bleeding?” “Not bad,” Keith said. By this point there were only two surfers in the water; then just Short Board Aaron. This isn’t a spot you can surf on an outgoing tide. Then Derrick showed up, fresh, evidently, from some kite surfing. “Are we going to have to take Erwin to the hospital?” “No, I’m all right. Contributed a little skin.”

Okay, so this is where age comes in. I don’t (or, more like, don’t allow myself to admit that I) seek respect from my peers, but I definitely don’t seek pity.  “Hey, everyone got worked. Huh?” “Sure. How old are you, again?” “Yeah. Old… old-er.”

No, wait, maybe I thought I’d get a bit of pity from Trish. Not really. There’s no shame in getting wiped out in the tube. Getting sucked over the falls when you’re trying to back out of a wave. Thinking. Thinking what I’d think if it was someone else.

One thought on “The Thin Line Between Respect…

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