Proning It Out

FIRST; this post is not about politics. Yes, I do almost regret writing anything that could be construed as complimentary of Mitch McConnell. Or misconstrued. However, I did get my comment in early, while he was still speaking, before MSNBC’s Brian Williams could say that the most successfully shifty politician of this generation, “Just threw the first fistfuls of dirt on the political grave of Donald Trump.” AND, totally out of character for me, I got excited enough to fire off an e-mail to that effect to Rachel Maddow (Haven’t heard back… yet), AND posted something similar to what I wrote her, available for your reading pleasure (scroll down). SO, with an allusion the the former president, “two scoops for me.”

“AND WITH THAT,” (an attempted allusion to the way Williams speaks), I’m through with politics, political theater, political intrigue, political… Wait, what? Antifa what? Lindsey’s… what? Really? Never mind.

SO…OOOO…OH, while bashing my head against the TV table yesterday, attempting, again, to complete a clear and effective (as in effective enough to convince a publisher to fork out their money) synopsis for my novel, “SWAMIS,” in under 1,500 words, I had, on my tablet, on a second TV table, a running live feed of the Bonzai Pipeline, courtesy of SURFLINE, by way of YouTube.

Very nice of them. SOMEHOW, watching a raggedy line of 80 or so surfers bobbing in scary -big swells, with larger swells visible on the horizon; twenty of them paddling for a wave that jacks up, will probably close out, one surfer throwing himself (not being sexist, him or herself then) into a freefall drop, catching enough fin and rail at the bottom, with the entire roof of a two story building coming down and on and over (and not just coming down, coming down with a vengeance and force beyond simple gravity), making a turn, weaving past or over several other surfers, sponge-bobbers, photographers), and getting just high enough on the face, with just enough forward momentum, to get, for a maximum of under five seconds, time in the most famous tube in the world; and, when and if you’re spit-shot out to the shoulder, you (notice I’ve switched it from third to second person) you get to claim it; two hands shaking or thrown to the heavens; and, if you’re really lucky, one of the helmeted photographers can put your image on INSTAGRAM, or SURFLINE can put your ride on its ‘CAM REWIND’ feature… and, if someone at Surfline actually knows who you are, your name might appear with the video; SOMEHOW, for someone trying not to concentrate on all that; having it going is both distracting and sort of SOOTHING.

NOT that it can be for those in the water. All realsurfers know how daunting even going out in conditions way more friendly than overcrowded Pipeline can be. I could feel that. Surfers paddling out choosing to bail their boards rather than duckdiving, even on the inshore waves; surfers hairing-out, choosing to not drop in; surfers so far out they couldn’t possibly get caught inside, though there’s little chance they would go on some mutant wave that did peak up just for them; surfers on second reef waves sort of casually cruising while the wave gets hyper critical; all this is great fun in the safety of one’s living room.

BUT, what I kind of couldn’t get past, what I want to concentrate on (concentrate, concentrate… huh?) are rides I saw in which surfers who had BARREL-DODGED (I got the term from Adam Wipeout- referencing me) a section, and dropped down under it, seemed to believe they could stay standing against ten feet of furious soup. None did. Sure, we’ve all seen videos of Waimea Bay- big drop, no shoulder, surfer caught under the soup- some make it.

Because I couldn’t concentrate, PRONING IT OUT came to mind. Actually, a specific wave. 1968, Mazatlan, Mexico; Lupe’s Left Loopers. Maxwell Harper and I had paddled over to the island across the way, surfed some tiny and beautiful righthanders with offshore wind, crystal water, crabs everywhere on the beach; and were paddling back. Max was not an experienced surfer, his brother Phillip, and the other adventurer on this trip, Ray, were back at the motel, recovering from the previous night or resting for the coming one. Or, perhaps, they just didn’t want to do our side trip.

SOMEWHERE on our return crossing, no closer than half way, big ass swells started forcing their way between the island and the hotel-lined beach. “Erwin,” Max asked, “What are these things?” “Waves.” Yeah, big ass waves. Here’s a thing (not concentrating): It is often scarier to be caught outside than to be caught inside.

ANYWAY, I take off on one, the biggest wave I would ride on this trip, or possibly ever, and, out of habit, muscle memory, I stand up. Oh. Partway down the face, I realize there is nowhere to go. Certainly not right. It’s a left. I look left. The wave is one giant closeout, pitching all the way past the last (many many more these days) hotel. Oh. Prone it out.

HERE’S how that goes: You (change of person again) drop down onto your board, back where kooks paddle from; you are in front of the oncoming break, but just for a moment; and your board slows down; still, the wave breaks right the fuck on your back; you hold on; somehow, the wave swallows you up, pulls you and your board back and up and (don’t ask me to explain the hydrodynamics of this, I can’t) suddenly, you’re being pitched forward, with and over the soup at somewhere approaching warp speed; and you’re back in front of it all again, pushed and thrashed and hanging on the rails; not just until you reach shallower water; no, you’re riding this thing until you hit the sand.

Thinking about proning it out?

To finish the story; I was pretty concerned about Maxwell; more so when his board came washing up on the next wave. We had already seen a guy caught in the rip on our first day in Mazatlan; rescued, temporarily, on another guy’s board, then back in the rip. I was running back and forth on the beach, looking for a head in the successive waves. I honestly can’t remember if I paddled out to retrieve Max or if he swam all the way to the beach. “I thought I was safer without the board,” he said.

I disagree with the premise; but I didn’t disagree with Max. Not then.

So, OKAY, I have used up my writing time for this morning. I have to go. I’m telling myself that, if I give the thinking about the synopsis a day, I can get back to it, fresh, and then… wait; what? Yeah, now I’m thinking about barrel-dodging, wondering if Rachel has gotten back to me.

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