Something About East Coast Surfers

I was, fairly recently, at a break even those of us accustomed to the fickleness of waves on the Strait would refer to as fickle. I had missed the short window for surfing the spot, and the water was a wind-whipped, side swell-chopped, rocks-out mess; so, you know, like pretty good. What was a bit unusual was, among those who had been tossed and pitched numerous times in order to get a couple of steep drops and short rides before the radical tide shift made even the daunting conditions ridiculous, four of the seven surfers on the beach were, originally, from the East Coast.

If I made the session seem unappealing, you’re welcome. And don’t forget the fickle part.

So, there was AARON, from New York (like the city, rode the subway to Rockaway), JOEL, also from New York (more like Long Island), CHRIS, from Massachusetts (I’m thinking somewhere expensive; he evidently goes there every year for hurricane season), and TIM, aka Chimacum Timacum, from Philadelphia, though he suggests if not outright claims that he’s from New Jersey (probably thinking Northwest folks know Philly doesn’t have waves but don’t know New Jersey is the subject of some amount of derision from other East Coasters). EAST COASTERS, I can’t help believing, are different than West Coasters.

OBVIOUSLY I have a prejudice I should get past: all these guys are proficient surfers, but, yes, they have been on the West Coast a while.

NOW, I must now say that I gathered this background information from the subjects themselves, and everyone seems to know I will talk, I will reveal pretty much anything except where, exactly, even a not-so-secret spot is located. OKAY, put an asterisk next to that.* WAIT, I think BOATYARD MIKE might have also been there. Yeah, crowded. I am not actually sure where Mike hails from, but I shouldn’t leave him out. The other surfers on the beach at that moment were KEITH, from Oregon, originally, and me, from San Diego area, but, to be honest (and it’s not a secret-secret), I was born in Surf City, North Carolina, so, not an East Coaster as much as a Southerner.

Not that that’s better, surf prejudice-wise. OH, and there’s another thing: Are surfers on the Strait really West Coasters? HEY, WHAT?

ANYWAY, what was interesting about the little encounter is that these Other Coasters weren’t aware of their connection. I, of course, was, and pointed it out; which offered them an opportunity to share stories about, you know, cheese steaks and backyard lobster/clam chowder fests and anchovies on pizzas and, of course, hurricane season.

STILL, I CAN’T shake thinking there’s a difference in attitude, and that’s not even getting into the whole Hawaiian version of interpersonal beach etiquette. Since most surfer interactions run between gracious and abrasive, I can’t help comparing a meeting of Opposite Coasters with a scene or two from “West Side Story.” Less dancing, same amount of finger snapping.

“Okay, Jets; get you’se boards; we’re takin’ ova this here bus.”

AH, CATHARSIS. Now I’m free of all prejudice except… No, but working on it. Peace, Aloha, etc.

Chimacum Tim about to snap his fingers and, possibly, bust into a song.

“When you surf the Strait, You must learn how to wait; You hear rumors of waves, but you can’t take the bait; Out on the Strait… out on the… Strait.” Hey, Tim, just joking; but, seriously, man; I don’t think renaming any of the fickle breaks after you is going to catch on. Okay, maybe Tim’s Reef; I won’t tell anyone where it is.*

I PUT OFF writing about ADAM WIPEOUT’S wipeout… again. Next time. BUT, WAIT, Trish, who once lived in the Philadelphia area (though she was born in San Diego), just hepped me that it’s really not all that far from Philly to the beach, so, I will never mention it again.

THEN, AGAIN, ADAM, I’m sending off some stuff related to my novel, “Swamis,” to a publisher, including the first 25 pages, a synopsis, and a letter explaining my writing background and expectations; the second and third of these items still being edited and polished. I might just push Adam back again. Sorry, Adam.

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