I’ve told the story enough times now that I kind of know where the laugh lines are. And there’s been almost enough time since my incident that I can see the humor in it myself. Almost.
No, there is something rather amusing about a surfer with an ego as large as mine is, with years of experience in the ocean getting himself in trouble in the water. There is, also, perhaps, some sort of karmic re-balancing in the story if I was able to tell it in full.
What prevents this ‘whole truth and nothing but’ is protecting the not-really-secret but kind-of-secret, and definitely fickle-by-nature, definitely rarely breaking spot where the not-quite-drowning event took place. This not-blowing-up-the-spots is sort of my attempt to get along with surfers who put in the miles and the disappointments and the skunkings to occasionally find a decent wave.
Actually, it doesn’t matter where the story happened so much as what happened. I was caught inside numerous times by relentless waves and a raging tidal current. Both legs of my wetsuit filled with water to the knees, my leash got tangled up and weighted down with kelp, I, somehow, got pushed out of the impact zone. Unable to make any real progress paddling, I thought I could just drop down and walk up to the beach. Nope, too deep. It was probably after the third drop down that some camper on the beach called 911.
Yeah, amusing. I wasn’t drowning. I wasn’t panicked. I was kind of pissed off.
More like embarrassed. More so when a surfer, Kim, in street clothes but contemplating going out, ran over just as I pushed my board up onto the beach, then crawled my big ass self up behind it. I had to struggle to get my leash detached and the water out of my wetsuit, the last of the legs clamped securely around my ankles. Kim carried my big ass board up to my car while I lumbered my way behind her. Thanks, Kim, helping out the old guy.
Old guys. Shit. There were several examples of the karmic reset in this morality tale. When I was suiting up, with several surfers in the water, a car pulled up next to mine. I didn’t see a board inside but thought the driver was a sometime surfer I had recently seen at another fickle, not-breaking-at-the-time spot. “Hey,” I said, “there’s kind of an age limit on surfing… huh?”
It wasn’t that guy. It was, in fact, a woman. Similar hair, that’s my excuse. “I just came here to watch,” she said. “Oh. Well. Um, if there’s a… bubble, age-wise, I’m probably just over it… myself.” “Uh huh.”
Still, I did wonder why she thought there might be waves and riders at this spot at this time. And then I had someone help me zip up my wetsuit, and I went out.
My fairly new wetsuit: Back zip. Last one was front zip; didn’t need help. I have added some length to the pull string on the zipper. My age: 71 in August. So, I’m not only old, I’m… well, my friend, Stephe n Davis, describes me as a Clydesdale, work horse… large. Big shoulders, short legs. My triple-x suit is tight in the top, with legs meant for someone, like, 6’4″. I’m not.
This isn’t a problem if I don’t spend much time under water. It actually has been a problem before. A few months back, different secret(ish) spot, got some great rides and some wipeouts, had the water in the legs issue, not as bad, but my new, glow-in-the-dark leash, somehow, got all tangled up around my legs. Again, there was an extreme rip along the inshore that wasn’t at all helpful. That time, pushing my board up onto the beach, Adam Wipeout was walking back from a long ride.
A minor irony here; the board I’ve been riding for a few years was purchased from Adam. On payments. On another occasion, a different spot, I had a little trouble, after surfing pretty well, getting out of the shorebreak and up the steep beach. Old guys are not always nimble. My/Adam’s board was loose, hitting rocks, while I was getting pummeled. Lesson: Don’t take the first wave of the set if you plan on getting out of the water. Adam, also out at that spot on that day, of course, did a seven-point (out of ten) dismount, ran up the beach, came over, pulled his/my board up to safety. Yes, it is paid for… now.
I have surfed again, in that wetsuit. This time I rolled the legs up about five inches. A sort of cuff. Fits tight against the booties. Uneventful. I would really rather concentrate on the surfing.
Oh, the 911 call? Yes. I was on the phone with Trish, explaining the situation, when Steve got out of the water to see if I was all right. Police turned up. Two cops. “Heard there was someone in trouble in the water.” I raised my hand. “So, you’re all right?” “Evidently.” “Oh, hey, Steve; how’s it going?”
They were through with me. It isn’t like they were going to jump in and save me.
I will get into some other karmic/positioning/priority/burning issues another time. Meanwhile, another tip: If you’re surfing over rough rocks, booties help.