“I always try to compete to be the best,” I said.
Now, I can, and do, edit what I write. What I say in real time, however, is out there, it’s gone, in the time zone of ‘past,’ mostly ‘past imperfect’ tense.
Tense. Yeah. Five more minutes, I figured, and the guy who had been all “Aloha” was going to, possibly, want to throw down. He had, he said, a history. He had, he said, given a well-known Westport enforcer a beatdown years ago. Cops were called. Westside Oahu. Makaha. He knows Sunny, calls Buffalo ‘Uncle;’ said he did some enforcing. Despite my being seventeen years older than him, he didn’t call me Uncle.
Now, after I went over the story with a couple of friends via cellular device, I began to believe I had, perhaps, over-reacted. Maybe it was because the thought of someone actually throwing punches over some imagined (or even real) affront in the waves just seems like over-reacting.
Then I called Trish. “You have to think about what you say.” “Uh huh.” “What exactly did you say?”
Oh. So, again, let me rethink:
Discussions on who has priority.
It’s all about the windows. The tide was going to drop off, the swell was supposed to drop, the wind was forecast to increase, and not at a good angle, not offshore. There’s always the chance that you’ll get skunked; especially when the buoy readings, at the last place where my phone works, had already dropped to a size where, in my memory of collected skunking/scoring, the numbers favored flatness.
So, when I rolled up and saw waves… um, maybe I kind of over-amped. Pretty much a record time for me to get a suit on, booties, earplugs… and only two guys out. Guys I didn’t know. Three surfers, three wave sets; shouldn’t be a problem.
The one surfer had just finished a ride and was lying on his very large standup paddle board. “You guys are probably exhausted from catching so many waves,” I said, paddling past him toward my lineup spot.
WAIT: Etiquette check. Perhaps I should have followed him, making sure to sit ‘outside’ of whatever position he decided to take.
THEN, scrapping around to catch waves that showed up on an outside reef, them, mostly, backed-off, regrouping on the main reef, I did, and I admit it, take off on the same wave as the other SUPer.
WAIT: Even if the guy closer to the peak, farther outside, missed a couple of waves, I probably should just let the wave go unridden rather than go for it. Probably.
THEN, because I lost one of my earplugs, and didn’t want another three days of one-ear hearing, I went in, hung out with a couple of guys who were waiting for the incoming tide; giving the two other guys free rein. So, nice.
THEN, MORE SURFING, more jockeying for position, but no more take-off-in-front-ofs by me. Three wave sets, shouldn’t be a problem. When it looked like the big surfer was going in, I did comment, “Hey, I know boating season started yesterday, but, um, do you have a license for that boat?” Joke, yes; but the board, I swear, almost filled the bed of his small-sized truck, side to side. Very wide.
THEN, with the wind coming up and the tide bottoming-out, with more folks starting to fill the parking area, Darren deciding to paddle out before it got worse, I was changing-out on the beach, next to the big guy with the big board.
WAIT: There were, in retrospect, a few things I said that I probably shouldn’t have.
AFTER the big guy, who was pretty (and rightly) proud that he’d dropped many pounds, but had gained some of the weight back, then downed another beer, I could have avoided saying he should switch to coffee.
AFTER he said he’s sticking with the custom board, and said maybe he’s kind of a pussy, I didn’t need to say I think anyone who rides an SUP under 60 years old MIGHT BE (here’s a can’t-backspace words example- I said IS) a pussy. Probably a mistake.
AFTER he said that if he see’s someone paddling past other surfers, taking off in front of other surfers, he has to say something (Pretty sure he meant me), I did say, “Hey, I only took off in front of him once.” He disagreed. Okay.
WAIT: Maybe I really shouldn’t have said that I don’t really get the whole paddling past other surfers thing. I paddle to my spot, everyone else is entitled to move. If my lineup is the one they want to use, come sit next to me, even inside me. Paddle. Move. Jockey. “Back when I started surfing, the best surfer got the most waves.”
“OH,” he said, possibly moving a bit closer to me, “Do you think you were the best surfer out there?” Out of three. This is where I said, “I always try to compete to be,” and he came back with, “You aren’t. See that guy over there?” Now dressed, talking to Clint. “He rips!”
OKAY. This is when, exactly, I thought about the last time I ever was involved in serious fisticuffs. I was about 13. Butch Standefor. I only cried because I was frustrated because, though I wasn’t hurt, he wasn’t either. SO, I lost. CLEARLY.
THEN I thought about my father. He would throw down up until he died. At 92.
SOOOOO, I walked away from the BIG GUY, he re-suiting to go for another session, his last word to me, “Aloha,” walked over to the other guy, shook his hand, introduced myself, apologized for the ONE time I took off in front of him. He was nice.
No, you don’t have to believe me. But, if we’re out together, sit by me. We can discuss which wave is who’s. Aloha.