The Perfect Day or Beware the Froth
“Surfer” magazine had a feature recounting a perfect surfing day; everything aligned- waves, weather, surfers, stars, star surfers.
Perfect is only perfect because we focus on what made it perfect and blur, diminish, or edit out anything that doesn’t support that story. It is cynical to say nothing is perfect. So, I would admit to being a cynic except… except I am perfectly willing to edit the negatives and focus on the perfect.
And it might well be that negatives frame the perfect. I also believe there is a balance built into the universe. Seesaw. For someone insisting on staying at the balance point, perfection must have a certain sameness, safeness. Comfort.
Sorry, didn’t mean to get philosophical. I’ve retold this story a few times since the day and the session that is at the center of the tale; mostly it has been received as kind of humorous. The tale starts in the dark, in my driveway, with me spilling paint all over the back of my surf rig, including some splashing on my wetsuits. It ends, again in the dark, with me getting pulled over and ticketed on the way home.
In the middle, a bit of perfection.
I originally wanted to focus here on the dangers of overfrothing. Haste does indeed make waste. I had been using my late 80s Camry wagon, my surf rig, for painting. Cheaper. Obvious. But I wasn’t going to paint on this day. Surf. Shop. So, unload paint to make room for Costco/WalMart stuff. I grabbed a paint can. The lid wasn’t on tight. OOPS! Not so bad. Mostly the paint was on cardboard or plastic. NOPE! Some had splattered or oozed onto my wetsuits. Fuck! I grabbed a brush, started scooping and brushing and… yuck. I grabbed an old dropcloth, stuffed it on top of the remnants, hoped for the best on my gear, took off.
I made good time, got to the spot my predictions seemed to indicate would be breaking. NOPE. ALMOST. I was tired of almost being good enough. WELL, might as well survey the damage. I figured I could hike up my cords, take off my shoes, wash off my two wetsuits in the inshore water. MIGHT HAVE WORKED if my roll up didn’t instantly unravel, my wetsuit didn’t float off into that area where six inches drops off to, oh, knee high on a short-legged dumbass.
SO, turn the heater to the position where most of the air hits the wet Levis, accept that I was skunked and dunked, and backtrack. I skipped over a couple of possibilities, pulled into a spot that required hiking in. Not a quick or easy hike; less thrilling with a bigass board.
I have learned that, walking back, a bigass board is even heavier. Drape a soaked wetsuit over it, worse. I parked, looked at the paint splattered on my booties and suit. Mostly on the inside of the suit. Fun. My new, glow in the dark, day-glow green leash was Navajo White, booties speckled, vest/hood sort of striped.
I stuffed my decorated gear into a cooler bag, did the hike, made it to the beach, dropped my stuff on my board.
One bootie. I could have gone out with one bootie. Last time I tried naked foot surfing, the gentle little rollers waves suddenly came up. Rocks, in these parts, will cut you. I guess, really, only if you wipe out. If you charge, you wipe out. That’s my excuse. Cut the shit out of my feet. I can show you the scars.
Walk back. Someone asked if the back of my car was attacked by seagulls, and, if so, how many. “Frothing,” I said, as if that was enough. No. Another story: “So, this one time, I drive up to a spot, waves are breaking. My board was back far enough on the rack I couldn’t lift the back all the way. I, um, slammed my thumb in the door. Still hurts sometimes.” “Uh huh.” May as well bring a thermos and cup and… damn, why don’t I have a stash of propels?
Back on the beach, I have to ask someone for assistance in getting my new backzip wetsuit backzipped up. “I just need a longer cord,” I explained. “Uh huh. Um, what’s with all the paint?”
So, the hiking. There were some waves within a reasonable distance. Most were closeouts. I missed the first one, too far out. I was too far in on the next one, suffered the first of what would be a notable number of thrashings. Two waves later, I didn’t pull out when I should have, went for just one more section and… sideways up the beach.
There were other waves, possibly better waves. Hiking would be involved.
This is where the perfection came in- a few genuinely wonderful waves. Not every wave, not every ride. My salt-washed leash got tangled around both my feet, I got worked on waves I didn’t quite make, sections I could not resist going for. The bottom legs on my new wetsuit filled with water, bagged out.
A couple of truisms: Waves that barrel break harder than crumblers, getting caught inside is tiring, a long ride requires a long paddle (or walk) back.
Somewhere in the past two paragraphs there’s what was the perfect part of the day, those genuinely wonderful rides on simply wonderful waves.
Luckily, because I was a long way from the trail, I ran into several surfers I’ve run into over the past forty years or so. Chat, rest, regroup.
Still, fuck a bunch of long walks on the beach.
Since I had gotten up at four am, there was no way I could face the Sequim vortex without a nap. Twenty minutes in the parking lot of the Deer Park Cinema. Then Costco, then Walmart; phone to my ear, Trish going over the list on her end. Then head for home. “Sixty-eight in the fifty-five,” the Patrolman said, “It was really sixty-nine. I didn’t cite you for the expired tabs.” “Thank you.”
So, then, home, putting away the Costco-sized this and the Walmart-priced that, I got to inform Trish that her husband, who has never gotten a good driver rate in fifty-five years of driving, might not get one for a while longer.
I did buy the wrong product in the vitamin/supplement aisle. That was upsetting, but I did get home early enough that Trish could cook up the organic chicken legs for dinner, and we could enjoy them together while watching “Jeopardy,” recorded, fast-forwarding the commercials.
A perfect day, just a bit farther out on the seesaw.