When I am not writing about surfing…

…or trying to make “Swamis” perfect-er, or -ish, I write about other stuff. This is my submission for the Quilcene Community Center newsletter for April. I wrote it in between getting really small surf among really big rocks, and riding blown out surf, and getting skunked. If I did manage to ride some quality waves, I certainly wouldn’t share that with the non-surfing folks over here on the near side of the Olympics. So, okay, let’s see:

Oh, yeah; I wrote about getting my second Covid shot, but, somehow, I didn’t set this up correctly to actually include the piece. Let me see if I can…

                                Anticipation of Inoculation and Other Things…

…things like the latest topic of conversation: Vaccinations. You get yours yet? Scheduled? Fully inoculated? Half? Pfizer, Moderna, J&J? Side effects? Jump in anywhere.

“Oh, I don’t think I will get one; you know, because of the…” “See you… (from a reasonable social distance) later.”

It just so happens I am getting my second dose this afternoon; heading back to Manresa Castle’s back lot, hoping I don’t have to fill out the form again, and fully prepared to not cry. It’s not that I’m all that worried; not like I cried when I got the first dose of Pfizer cold gold, the first needle stab. It’s more like I whined beforehand.

I can’t help but remind myself of another experience, back when I was eleven or so and started crying while only lining up for some shot or another, a tetanus booster, perhaps. This was quite embarrassing for my mom, me being the second oldest of seven children, and the oldest male- back when this gender bias, wrongly of course, seemed to make a difference.

“Fine example, Junior.” “Waaaah!” “I thought you might act more, well, grown up… Junior.”

Saying, “Wow, it didn’t even hurt” didn’t help after the fact. No way any of my siblings would even consider crying after my mature display.

To be clear, I did, two weeks ago, warn several of the many, many folks of the remote possibility of tears, if not full tantrum mode. Many of the many checkers and re-checkers and line monitors are actual volunteers, making themselves available for the processing and administration and delivery of a shot to individuals proceeding, ever so slowly, in our vehicles, single file.

When I finally got to the last temporary carport, sleeve rolled up, I told one of the several people there, “Yeah, I get cut and gouged and hurt all the time; it’s the knowing it’s going to happen; that’s what’s scary. You know, like, just do it; don’t tell me you’re about to.”

“Done.”

“Really?”

“No. Joking. Wait for it… wait… wait…”

One person on the inoculation squad, possibly because she believed I was making it up about my fear of needles and all, did point to another member who might be willing to slap me so I wouldn’t be concentrating on the long, sharp needle. He did look willing.

“Most of the crying, so far,” another shot squad member told me, “has been out of gratitude. You know, older people.”

I do. Older is my demographic. 65 to infinity. I have lived long enough to have had measles and mumps and chicken pox (no rubella, whatever that is) before they had vaccines (I might have to fact check that- maybe my family just didn’t get them). I am old enough to have had both runs of polio vaccines; the one with the needles, the one with the little cups. No problem with the cups; stand in line, take a swig, get a sticker. Or was it a sucker? Maybe.

Maybe it only seems like everyone I speak with is around my age. Saying I am over 65, as I did, above, is easier on the ego than saying I will be 70 in August; and no, I never answer the question of how old I am with the question, “How old do I look?” Not any longer.  So, how we survived the pandemic, so far, seems like a likely topic for lively discussion, much better than “did you hear about good old so and so?”

Whatever it is about good old so and so, it’s probably not great news; even if it’s “She’s 89 years old and just won a lifetime supply of (merely an example) Rice Krispies.” Oh, you heard that joke.  

Now, I do have a lot to say about getting older and the benefits of aging.

Benefits? Maybe next time.

So, closer to topic: Vaccinations. To tie life-saving vaccinations to Spring, we are all looking forward to actually being free of this pandemic. Like Spring (or each season) full victory over this pandemic won’t come all at once. Still, there are signs, reason for hope.

People who are way younger are now getting inoculated. I’m not talking about the Spring Breakers and the anti-vaccers and the scofflaws (scoff-mandates might be more accurate). Our son Sean, 38 and a front-line worker, is getting the Johnson & Johnson this afternoon. One of my surfing friends, somewhere around 43, just got one yesterday. J&J, one shot and done.

Since I ask pretty much everyone I come into nowhere-near-contact with about their status, I am surprised to hear how many folks have already been fully immunized. Without getting into the variants and mutants and strains of the virus, each one named after some spot; I am imagining the Miami Beach strain, the patient’s head throbbing to a sort of techno/disco beat.

So, a couple more hours and, barring any unforeseen consequences, I will be ready to (always responsibly) PARTY!

You can imagine tears of gratitude if you want. I’m a grownup, and I’m in anticipation mode.  

OH, SHIT, I JUST ‘CUT’ THE PIECE OUT OF MY FILES. DAMN IT, when Ken Burns does the 9 hour documentary on me, they won’t have it. WAIT, MAYBE, IF I… see you out on the trail.

Phonies from “Swamis”

So, as I keep pushing toward some sort of semi-final draft of the manuscript, I’m just going to keep posting stuff that I don’t hate, but realize I need to focus, focus, focus… what? Yeah, focus on moving the plot of “Swamis” forward, faster.

To set the scene here; Ginny has invited Jody to her eighteenth birthday party at her parents’ newly acquired property in Rancho Santa Fe. He is very anxious, and has many good reasons for being so.

The smell, sweet, pungent, somehow almost harsh, was unmistakable.   

“Last year’s crop was good,” one of the guys by the barn said, inhaling, holding it, before blowing the smoke out. “But this year’s gonna be mo’ betta’. Mo’ mo’ betta,’ Mon.”

It wasn’t a real accent, it was an affected, put-on, party accent; fake, put on Jamaican by the first converts, the first of generation of (Bob) Marley-ites.    This party accent was pushing against the Beatles-influenced fake British from when I was in junior high (1964-65), which had bumped up against the beatnik jazz-speak older kids were practicing, that competing with the fake down-home folk lingo/rhythm. 

Meanwhile, kids from and in the mid-west wanted to talk like west coast surfers.  It was considered cool to talk like you were already half-stoned or wasted, but you still had something possibly clever, or, better, semi-profound to say; or, at least, something that might be perceived as clever or profound to those more stoned or wasted.

People were ‘experimenting’ with drugs, as if they were scientists.

I can’t get too judgmental; I modified my speech patterns because of TV characters, reporters; Tommy Smothers and Walter Cronkite and… really can’t list all the influences.  As in my surfing, I copied, emulated, folded things into my own… own style, persona?  Yes, everything about me was affected, put on, not real.

This was some of what I attempted to fill my mind with as I backed the Falcon into a spot.

It wasn’t really working.

SO- Working my way to another brief visit with “THE END.” Thanks for reading.

what about that, huh?

I just wrote a whole long thing; then, frustratingly, it wouldn’t PUBLISH. So, here’s an excerpt from “Swamis,” currently and still being edited. This scene is over halfway through the manuscript and takes place in the parking lot at Swamis on a Sunday evening. Let’s see if hitting the ‘Publish” button works this time. And…

“I think that… Joey, I might be in love.  Maybe.”

“I think I might be.  Also.  In love.”

“Might be?”

“Am.  Have been.”  If I didn’t say, ‘Always will be,’ I did think it.  I did believe it.  Then I said it.  “Always will be.”

“Always?” Ginny leaned back into the open door, gave me a look that said both that she believed me and that she might not believe ‘always’ meant ‘forever.’  “You better.”

H …

If any emotion other than love, and in particular, new love, so front-loaded with anticipation, joyous anticipation; had the same all-out, pounding arterial intensity for people not in their teens; the result would have to be a significant increase of sudden strokes and heart attacks.    

This doesn’t make me a romantic.

I do not plan on having a heart attack while surfing, as others have, though this is often glorified in obituaries as ‘doing what he loved.’ If I do have one, it’ll be when I first look out and see irresistible-if-not-perfect waves coming in. Right there, in some parking lot, fumbling for my wetsuit, fumbling with a towel, fumbling, not skipping out on and over the water like a properly thrown skipping stone; just dropping. A different stone. A rock.

And the waves just continuing to roll in.

Maybe this parking lot, but not on this day. It wasn’t about the waves. I was standing, trying to slow my heart rate, trying to control my breathing. It was that portion of dusk when the shadow that is night starts to mix with the overcast, both descending; those few minutes when the inability to see very far in any direction seems to be reassuring. Comforting. Calming.

But it took a while.

A lovestruck eighteen-year-old with a brain overloaded with everything else might just discover he had followed a Jeep over to 101, watched it go north long and far enough to see the right-hand turn signal light up, blink. He might imagine he saw things too far away to be seen. With the world spinning, he might be frozen; thinking, trying to think, images and words tangled, waves crashing into each other.

Waves. Waves are born of chaos. Disorganized. Out of control. Of all the waves hitting all the beaches in all the world, only some are really rideable if rideable means more than just taking off and going straight to the beach. Surfable. Most waves are closeouts. Some, with time and distance, with the proper point of land, or reef, or direction, become rideable. Only a very few are perfect. Even Swamis was only rarely perfect. Perfect.   

My world was chaos. I blinked. I was standing in the middle of the opening to the parking lot, wondering how long I’d been frozen. I had one clear thought: I had to tell Ginny the truth.

Ginny and Joey in the Photo Lab

I’ve known for a while I might have to cut part of this chapter. Because I wrote myself into a bit of a corner by having the chapters of “SWAMIS” coincide with particular days, the chapter covering this day, with sub-chapters given letter headings, was up to “M” or so. I kind of liked the idea that both Joey and Ginny had been snobbish and/or cruel to other students they went to high school with, and this gave them a chance to do some small amount of karmic redemption.

I’ll save any other explanation for future therapy sessions, but, briefly, this is just after Virginia Cole and Joseph DeFreines, Jr. get busted making out in the photo lab. OH, and there is a setup mentioning how a Southern California Santana condition can end with a giant wave of thick fog coming off the ocean. OKAY, now you’re ready:

M…

Ginny and I were passing the Student Union. There were twenty-five or thirty colorfully dressed potential marchers, butcher paper signs protesting the war being painted, cardboard placards painted and nailed on sticks and leaned in stacks. 

Among those milling about was Alexander.

“Alexander,” I said, looking just for a second in his direction.  “He’s a guy I always thought, even though he took lunch in the chemistry lab, was, um, not that smart.”   Alexander was carrying a briefcase and sporting a goatee, a French baret, a tweed sport coat with elbow patches over a day-glow t shirt. 

Ginny stopped.  I stopped.  “He looks smart enough.  Activist.  That’s good.”

“Yeah.  I think these are the same kids who were decorating and moving chairs and tables for high school dances; and now… junior college activists.”

“What did you do?  Dances?”  A moment later.  “Oh, you just didn’t go.”

“No.  I did have to spend some lunch time in the chemistry lab, cleaning all the desks.  I was busted drawing on one in English and the word got around.  Teachers.  My biggest fear was that I fit in too well with Alexander and his friends, hiding out in the sulfur-smelling safety of the chem lab.  They seemed to think… they laughed at everything I said.  They seemed to believe I, like them, didn’t actually fit in with the ‘normals’.”

“Probably not.”  Ginny pushed hair back out of my face.  “I, um; I danced.”

“Of course.”

Alexander saw me.  Or maybe it’s that he saw me with Virginia Cole.  “Hey,” he said, “DeFreines.  One; what the fuck (he was obviously just getting used to using the word) are you (emphasis on the ‘you’), Brain DeFreines, doing at Palomar?  Two; are you still into that surfing thing?”  He did a kook surf pose, the briefcase in his lower hand.  “And, three…”

“Three; how’d I get to walk around here with such a fine looking… young woman?”

“Bingo,” he said, head nodding, eyes on Ginny.  “Al.  Name’s Al.”  He switched hands on the briefcase, offered his right hand.  “Al Weston; Palomar Peace Initiative, and, and I am passionate about peace.”

Ginny took his hand, said, “Gin, short for Virginia.”  She dropped his hand, grabbed mine, did an exact replica of Alexander’s surf pose, my hand replacing the briefcase, and said, “Surfers; they’re so… sexy.”

“Obviously, then; you must surf.”

“She does.  Obviously.  Look, Alexander; you’re… (gesturing to include the gathering protesters) really into… all this.  Activist.  Good.  Good work.”

“Cynthia,” Ginny suddenly almost shouted at one of the young women painting signs.  “Cynthia!  Come here.”  Cynthia, who looked like she was about as close to Ginny, social clique-wise, as Alexander was to me; gave a half smile and approached us.  A bit chunky, Cynthia was wearing painters’ coveralls that, probably, didn’t help, chunkiness-wise; with a few bits of paint showing and one strap undone.  Cynthia had a red bandana around her neck, another, for some reason, around one thigh, and because the collar of the paint-splattered brown t-shirt she was wearing was stretched and loose, a bit of cleavage was showing.

“You know Alexander here, Cynthia?  Al?”  Cynthia looked up at him, he at her.  “He’s, yes, from Fallbrook; but he’s so passionate about peace.”

“You are?”

“I am.”

Passionate.

“I’m, um, painting some signs.  Over there.”  Cynthia pointed to a group of tables with more young women than young men.  Al Weston made a fist, looked at Cynthia, looked at Virginia Cole, looked back at Cynthia, then back at me.  “Gotta go, Brain.  Peace.”

“Yeah.”

Alexander and Cynthia practically skipped toward their fellow activists.  “I was, uh, very mean to Cynthia,” Ginny said.  Once.  Only once.  She got even with me.  If you saw the yearbook photos of me…”

Ginny made the ugliest expression she was capable of, pushing her nose down, crossing her eyes.  Still beautiful.

“If I hadn’t gotten into surfing, I’d probably be one of them,” I said.

Ginny looked at Cynthia and Alexander, back at me.  She rubbed her own chin, then mine.  Yes, I was trying, quite diligently, to grow some whiskers.  It wasn’t really working.  Peach fuzz, even that splotchy.  “I can see that, Brain DeFreines.”

Ginny started to unbutton her sweater, looked at me when one side was off her shoulder, whispered, “Skin,” pulled it back together, buttoned two buttons, and kissed me.  Once on the cheek.  She looked at the other students, the cooler ones, the ones only watching the protesters; then back at me.  She kissed me again, on the mouth. 

I was kind of happy she wasn’t better at kissing.  Better than me, of course.  I leaned in, my hand on her arm this time.  She didn’t move away. “For practice, Ginny,” I said as the wave of fog rolled over us, turning everything gray.  I said “Ginny” again, for practice.

“Joey,” she said.

YEAH, I have a better ending for the way shorter version; for the book. “Swamis.”

AND, incidentally, I’m not sure what to call it when you wait around for the right tide, get your wetsuit on because there are some weak waves, paddle out and… nothing. I guess it’s called PRACTICE. No, that’s what I call riding really small waves. PADDLING. Yeah. Not nearly as much fun as surfing.

Desperate for a Little Getaway?

I write a monthly piece for the Quilcene Community Center Newsletter. Occasionally I post it here. Here’s the latest, with a lot of help from Trish:

                                DESPERATE FOR A GETAWAY? THE OLYMPIC PENINSULA AWAITS

Trish is helping me on this. Since I was desperately late, as usual, in getting my submission ready (and I have a reason, more an excuse, that I will spare you from), I asked my long, long-suffering wife for a topic.

“Spring?” “Yeah, yeah; what about it?”

“Well, how about that there have been three police chases in Jefferson County in the last three weeks, each with speeds over one hundred miles an hour, and your wife and daughter almost got killed during one of them?”

“Yeah, well; maybe.” “I’ll look up everything for you.” “Okay… honey.”

So, I wake up this morning, the last day of February, and there are three newspapers on my chair and a big, long text message on my phone. Now, I had offered to set up a word document on the computer to save Trisha’s fingers, but she declined.

But first, I feel I must explain a Pursuit Intervention technique (PIT) maneuver. First I had to google it, then, to fully understand, Youtube it. Wow! For those without Youtube… wait, you’re reading this on a computer, so… Anyway, the pursuing police vehicle kind of gently nudges one of the sides at the back of the fleeing vehicle, usually causing that vehicle to lose control, but, evidently, this doesn’t mean the desperado actually stops.

I figure you already know about spike strips across the road in front of the getaway car, and, since Trish isn’t really big on my mansplaining stuff, and I just looked up myself… again, sparing you.

So, here’s what I have on my phone:

“3 chases through Jefferson County in 2 weeks.

“FEB 11: afternoon, 2 men were being chased after trying to get forged prescriptions filled in Port Hadlock. Down 19 to 104. ACROSS THE BRIGDE AND FLYING OFF, WITH YOUR DAUGHTER AND WIFE COMING FROM PORT GAMBLE HEADING TO HWY 3. WIFE YELLING AT DRU TO STOP WHEN THE getaway CAR IS HEADING ONTO 3, IN FRONT OF THEM. THEN A WSP CROSSED STRAIGHT AND ALMOST INTO THEM (FROM WHERE HE WAS WAITING FOR THE CROOKS ON THE EDGE OF THE BRIDGE), ANOTHER SCREAM FROM TRISH TO STOP. SPIKE STRIPS FROM KITSAP LAW ENFORCEMENT CAUSED THEM TO GO OFF THE ROAD AND HIT A TREE.

“FEB. 21 AT 2 IN THE MORNING, DRIVER GOING AT SPEEDS OF UP TO 100 MPH BEING CHASED BY JEFF CO. S. O. CAME INTO QUIL FROM DISCOVERY BAY WHERE SPIKE STRIPS HAD BEEN PLACED AT LORDS LAKE ROAD, DRIVER KEPT GOING UNTIL HITTING MORE STRIPS AROUND MP 295. 3 DIFFERENT PIT MANEUVERS. HE CRASHED INTO A YARD, TRIED RUNNING, BUT THE DEPUTIES ARRESTED HIM.

“FEB. 25TH, MORNING. DRIVER WAS BEING CHASED BY WSP STARTING OUTSIDE OF SEQUIM, GOING EAST ON HWY 101, WHEN HIGH SPEEDS UP TO 100 & RECKLESS DRIVING CAUSED WSP TO TERMINATE THE CHASE. JEFFERSON COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPUTIES PICKED UP THE CHASE UP TO HWY 104 WHERE, A QUARTER MILE UP, STRIPS WERE PLACED. DRIVER’S VEHICLE HAD FLAT TIRES BUT CONTINUED ON WHEN QUILCENE’S HOMEGROWN DEPUTY ADAM NEWMAN AND DEPUTY CORONADO SUCCESSFULLY PERFORMED A PIT MANEUVER AT MILEPOST 7. DRIVER REFUSED TO LEAVE VEHICLE AND DEPUTIES HAD TO BREAK HIS WINDOW TO GET HIM OUT. HE WAS arrested on numerous charges.”

Wow! I mean, whoa! The all caps just added to the excitement; kind of glad Trish switched back at the end; gives the reader a chance to catch his or her (or my) breath. It was, I thought, a nice touch to include Adam Newman. He went all through Quilcene schools with our kids (he was in Sean’s class), and, in the several discussions I’ve had with him (no tickets, yet, from him), I have come to believe he doesn’t seem to mind ticketing or arresting people he knows, “if they do something stupid or illegal,” he loves driving fast, and is familiar and comfortable enough with me to ask a question like, “So, do you just throw paint on the side of your vehicles?” “Sort of.” “Okay then, Big Er.”

Trish and I did chaperone many activities when our kids were in school. There I go again with the mansplaining.

Here’s some more. Skipping it is forgivable:

Trish had to explain the near-death incident at the east end of the Hood Canal Bridge to me several times. Dru was driving from her house in Port Gamble, heading toward Poulsbo. They got to the traffic light. Dru thought she was being pulled over by a WSP vehicle, but it pulled into the merging lane, leaving her first in line at the light. She started to go when her mother yelled for her to stop (like, “STOP!”) because Trish observed the vehicles on the bridge were pulling over as the suspect rig came speeding toward them at high speed. Dru slammed on the breaks. Zoom! The desperado turned right onto Highway 3. So, since the light turned green again, and wanting to be ahead of the bridge traffic, Dru starts going again. “NO!” Breaks slammed again. This time the WSP guy jams in front of them and joins the pursuit. The suspect went off the road somewhere on our side of the Big Valley Road. Trish got to see part of that while Dru, I’m guessing, kept her eyes on the road.

Yeah, Trish told it better- way more exciting.

So, yeah; Spring is coming, I’m scheduled (thanks to Trish and Dru) to get my first inoculation some time this week at a drive-thru dealie in Port Townsend. I’m not really clear on the details; Trish will have to explain it to me when it gets closer. Probably several times.

Stay safe out there.

At one hundred miles per hour, you may prefer one of these rigs. Note the empty surfboard racks. “Wait there, yellow car; you’re kinda crowding me here.”

SO, I did get my first inoculation, yesterday afternoon. Since I didn’t cry, I guess I’m ready for a tattoo. Maybe later.

ON “SWAMIS” NEWS, and I know you care; I’m just trying to get some illustrations together to include with my submission package, and then, off to a publisher and wait… and wait. INCIDENTALLY, I submitted my (our) newsletter piece early Sunday. Trish called me up a bit later in the day, said there was no news from the Community Center folks. “Oh,” I asked, “does that make you a bit… anxious?” “A little.” “Crazy.” “No.” “Well, that’s what it’s like being a writer. You send stuff off, you have no control, you don’t know what’s happening; you have second thoughts, you thinking, ‘oh, maybe I just suck at this,’ and…” “I have to go.”

We got word back the next morning. “Yea, Trish; nice to have a writer in your family.”

MEANWHILE, here’s what we’re working on now (that is I’m working on this, with input from conversations with my surf friends- you might be one of them): ONE, the difference between ‘dismissive’ and ‘deferential;’ TWO, the question of whether or not an awesome ride you got without any witnesses actually counts, or actually even happened; THREE, is it better to burn a surfer you know or one you don’t know? FOUR, should I fucking worry about books centering around or containing a certain amount of surf-related… stuff, probably, even most-likely doggerel, pedestrian, cliche’-ridden crap with stilted dialogue and unrealistic and exaggerated surf sequences and characters that are just… I mean, should I?

No, and yet I do. Crazy. Okay, now I’m thinking about ONE, from above. Do you know a group, the members of which are EVEN MORE dismissive of others than surfers? Yeah, musicians. Yeah, chefs. Yeah… wait, pretty much anyone who is real at what they do, or believe they are real. Yes, there was an incident; and maybe I shouldn’t have said, “Oh, you’re a musician but you can’t perform right now. So, why don’t people just start with what they really do for a living? Example; I’m a house painter, but, in my mind…” That’s when I found out the person I was speaking with was actually a musician and a trustafarian.

None of that craziness, or my reacting to someone saying, “Oh, you’re writing a book. I seems like everyone in Port Townsend is writing a book. Steve (the building maintenance man and another possible trust baby) is writing a book;” with, “Fuck him.” Not nice. AND I did ask Steve about his book. No surfing, but definitely crazy stuff. “Good luck, Steve. Want to hear about my book?”

Dismissive. OH, and since I’ve gone this far, no I didn’t look to see if new guy to a familiar lineup JAMES was already on the wave. Guess I assumed he wasn’t. Sorry, man. OOPS, got into number THREE, from above; but here’s a quote I got from TOM BURNS: “If I don’t know you, I don’t owe you.” Yeah, Tom; that’s the problem; I just know too many real surfers.

REALNESS. Realsurfers keep it real, and no, if no one saw your awesome ride; it doesn’t really count. Except to you. Then, yeah.

Waves: Enough is Never Enough

I checked with Chimacum Timacum to see if the quote and the story behind it were correct. CONFIRMED. Yes, he had witnessed Keith’s ride from the perfect vantage point, on the shoulder, looking into the oncoming wave. Keith did, indeed, backdoor the peak, did get tube time, did come flying out with the mental wherewithal to add a few swoops into the mix.

SO, then Tim got a ride (no doubt pretty good to amazing). Because of the pervasive rip, they are both walking back up to the point. Tim catches up, possibly taps Keith on the shoulder and… here’s the QUOTE: “Wasn’t that enough for you?”

This is actually another Big Island shot from Stephen R. Davis

I won’t keep you in suspense. No; not enough. It’s not just Keith who can’t get enough waves, but, yeah, it is Keith. I get it. I understand how, while getting a few mediocre rides will cause any real surfer to keep going until he or she gets a pretty good ride on a really good wave, or a really good ride on a pretty good wave, or even a really good ride on a shitty-ish wave; getting a really good ride on a really good wave will not necessarily cause him or her to say, “Yes, Tim, that was as good as I can hope for during this particular session, and I believe I will now go home.”

NO. Especially not Keith. Even without factoring in that Tim might get an even better wave, possibly from deeper, or that Tim might… NO, enough is rarely enough.

I have noticed that supposedly surfed-out surfers can suddenly spring back to life and compete fiercely for waves when… No it isn’t just when I go out, late in the latest swell window, but, yeah then. And I have been on the other side of that; back out for just a couple more because Chris Erdley missed my best rides, and, hey, I can still make it to Costco before it closes.

ALSO in my cell phone conversation with Tim, we discussed, as surfers do, past sessions. As you, as an avid reader of realsurfers, are aware, I have been ready to break my resolution to not surf until I have my submission package for “Swamis” ready to go. NO, I actually said I would have to have the novel’s third or twentieth polish/edit done. Backtracking. WELL, now I’m almost there on the submission, and totally desperate to get in the water. I’d be stoked,, rocks and boils and chop and all, to surf something like the wave in the photo, and, after twenty or thirty rides, I would be ready to… no, I pretty much stay until the waves go away for any one of several known reasons, I break a fin, or I just have to get somewhere else (not always Costco) and I’ve run out of time.

AND, HEY, what do you do when your first ride in a session is quite possibly going to be your best?

Keep surfing!

But, if you do happen to see me paddling out, please bear in mind I’m kind of… hungry. Next time, something on ADAM WIPEOUT that isn’t actually about that one wipeout I keep promising to write about.

From BOB DAVIS: Subj.- Surf Colonization

I got a comment from Bob DAVIS; it showed up in my e-mail, with a request to moderate, as in Approve, Disapprove, send to junkmail, or hell, or to just send it to trash.

I hit ‘approve.’ BOB’S comment is somewhere on realsurfers.net. It may show up under comments on my “About” dealie, originally written in 2013 when I started realsurfers, MOSTLY to tell parts of the same story that I was trying to tell in a screenplay, “Afternoon Glass-Off” (probably could have dropped the ‘off’ part), aka “Inside Break.” The story is from pretty much the same time and place in which “Swamis” is set; late sixties, Southern California.

I highlighted ‘mostly,’ above, because, after 24 years in the Great Pacific Northwest, I was, at that time part way through another chapter in my surfing life, here. NOW, in the beginning, I didn’t realize the danger in romanticizing the Northwest surfing scene, and, in particular the surf on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. I did name some surf locations, early on, did SUGGEST there might be waves… rarely. If surfing has blown up in Washington State, and folks continue to search out and be disappointed at known surf spots, it really can’t be blamed on my esoteric, no where near viral little blog.

BUT, if realsurfers is important enough for BOB DAVIS to write a comment, here, BOB, is your moment:

Hi, Please take down your posts about the surfing in the pacific northwest, purely out of respect for people who live here. We only get to surf good waves a few times a year, so if we have to deal with people coming up from California or elsewhere to get our waves that we only get a few times a year. first off, it makes no sense that they would want to come on a surf trip to a colder place, but also it is a fickle place and risk that chance of wasting their plane ticket doesn’t make sense to me. Why go to surf someone’s home that only breaks a few times a year when you could go to other more consistent surf breaks and not ruin someone’s life? This is just not okay from a moral standpoint. Please consider peoples’ lives and stop colonizing places.

This is not the Pacific Northwest. It is, apparently, already colonized.

HERE, BOB DAVIS is your answer: NO.

OH, and BOB, thanks for checking out realsurfers.net. If you happen to see me on one of the few times a year you get a few decent (and, wait, you did kind of admit there are rideable waves hereabouts) waves (and I am kind of recognizable- old guy, fucked up knees), say “Hi.”

The Rest of a Friday Night, from “Swamis”

This is the continuation of the last story posted. I had already moved it from the “Swamis” manuscript to the “Sideslipping” file, mostly for space. I really enjoy including the little side stories, dramas with characters not necessary for the plot. BUT, I can’t include them all. This outtake makes more sense if you read the last one, of course.

While searching for an image of late 1960 high school students cruising or hanging out, I did find this shot.

NOT EVEN IRONIC

“We’re going to, um, kind of… hang out,” Phillip said, he and Ray each with a girl next to them, all of them buzzing with that spinning, churning, barely controlled (at best) teenage electricity.

“Guess I’m not stayin’ over,” Billy B said, pretty much to me.  “What’re we going to do, Jody?”  

It’s not even ironic that Billy B and I got rides to our respective homes in Grant’s car, me in the front seat, riding ‘bitch’ (this pointed out to me by Grant with a, “Yeah, you can ride with me, if you don’t mind ridin’ bitch”).  Bigger Billy was riding shotgun, Billy B over the driveline in the back seat, also, evidently riding bitch.

“We went looking for girls… and fights, in the home bleachers,” Bigger Billy said, beer breath directly in my face.

“Shut up, man.”  That was from one or both of the two other guys in the back seat (may have been Mark and another one of the Billys, can’t say for certain), one of them adding, “Bigger Billy G paid for the beer” as a sort of explanation as to why he was there at all.

“We threw empty bottles out the windows on the way back, Jody.  Yeah!”

One of the backseat revelers said, “Could you please shut the fuck up?”

“Hey, Dickwad DeFreines,” Grant said as we turned off Mission, “Mr. Dewey’s soooo freaked out. What’da’ya think he’ll… do?   I mean; he knows my parents.”

“No, he’s… wait; he knows your father and (emphasis on the ‘and’) your mother?”

This drew some appreciative ‘ewwws’ from the backseat, and a “Fuck you” from Grant.

“You pissed in the parking lot,” I said to Bigger Billy G when he got out to let me out at the head of my driveway.

“Oh, yeah,” he said, “I did.”  When the three other doors opened, Bigger Billy G took another piss just in front of the front passenger door.  “Beer,” he said as Grant urinated in front of the driver’s side door.  I walked past the newly planted orange trees as the other guys looked around for a proper place to whiz. 

When a yard light up by the house suddenly turned on, the group scattered.  Billy G pushed Billy B aside, jumped into the shotgun position, but Billy B stuffed himself onto the seat, forcing the other Billy over.  “Who’s the bitch now?” he asked, an arm out past the other front seat Billy and out the window, three hands flipping me off as they peeled away, Grant tapping on the horn.  Shave and a haircut…

…Two bits.

SO, I KEEP HEARING RUMORS of waves. I had to run to a hardware store for a mop in a tipped-over-plant painting emergency, guy ahead of me (and most of us are difficult to recognize in masks- not me, evidently) turned and asked if I’d “been out lately.” “Not… lately lately. Recently.” “Oh, it’s been pumping.” “Oh? How do you know?” “I’ve been out… there.” “Where?” This is when he gets (properly) cagey. “Um, you know, the ocean.” “Yeah, I’ve heard of it, but, um, uh, who are you? Masks, you know.” “Yeah; I’m James.” He did give me his last name, which I’ve forgotten, said he and I have surfed together and that he’s a friend of Stephen Davis. “Haven’t seen him around lately.” “Oh, he’s been in Hawaii… for a while.” Surfing, somewhere, you know, in the ocean.

YES, I DID PROMISE to write about Adam Wipeout’s epic wipeout, but, since he told me he was cutting back on surfing to spend more time with his kids, and then went to the mountains with them for, like four or five days (and there’s some connection with Yodeling Dan here, some reciprocation for taking Yodeling Dan to semi-secret surf locations), and then, the very next day, he’s out searching for waves. THIS AFTER I told him I’m backing off on surf searching until I actually finish the final (before trying to sell it) draft of “Swamis.” AND THEN, AND ALSO, Little Reggie Smart, who also said he was cutting back, did complete four days in a row in which he found waves, each time taunting me with, “You would have loved it, Dude,” a line he has borrowed from other surf friends of mine.

SO, PROMISES. I will be sneaking into a surf spot soon; sooner if, as others have, I back out… hey, it wasn’t really like a real promise; if I just think of it as a resolution… I mean, who has enough resolve to not surf?

Bad Boy Fun/Adventure

These are some dudes waiting for a Civil Right march in Selma, Alabama in the 1960s rather than dudes waiting for the return of the rooter bus at Fallbrook High in 1968, but, yeah, the behavior does seem kinda familiar. And, dicks being dicks, I can’t help wondering if the other dicks gave the dick with the hip thrust shit about his, you know, dick. Of course they did.

I have known for a while that I would have to cut this chapter from my novel, “Swamis.” It doesn’t move the ever-tighter, ever more focused plot along enough, Grant Murdoch is not an important enough character to be given this much, um, attention; AND, despite cutting somewhere around 70,000 words, the manuscript keeps creeping up and over my self-set limit of 120,000 words.

SO, to put you in the place where I tried to make this fit; Joey is talked into going out drinking with his friends, then hanging out at the high school. Rusty McAndrews, mentioned here, is more of a critical character. Part of my original reasoning for including this was that it helps to illustrate that Joey, aka Jody, still has an ability to quickly and violently strike out when he feels threatened.

THE BASIS for the story is one that I did not witness, merely heard about; a guy who would pretend to have an epileptic seizure; roll around… the whole show. That I found that shocking (and that others I’ve mentioned it to aren’t nearly as disturbed) says… hey, I don’t know what it says.

I should restate that my real life friends, some of whom (Ray and Phillip in particular) have characters named after them, actually did very few of the things their namesakes do in “Swamis.” They did, however, do some. Erwin is also a character, mostly so readers don’t think I am Jody. However it is true that the real Phillip and Ray and Erwin, maybe Bill Buel, did get skateboarding shut down at Fallbrook High, or, at least, we take credit for it. Oh, and the urine stream, Bill Birt. I have written about him in realsurfers.

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 11, 1968

Not cutting this chapter must be defended.  I would rather not do either.

It was kind of a deal during football season, a bad-boy tradition, evidently.  Some of my friends would tell their parents they were taking the rooter bus to an away game, go somewhere and drink some beer, smoke some marijuana; and return to Fallbrook High when the bus returned.  See who went, see who won.  Fun.  Bad-boy adventure.

Fun while trying to attain that exact level of intoxication where your contemporaries would recognize it, but the teachers and chaperones, grownups, wouldn’t.  Or that was how the evening had been sold to me.  Fun.  I was pretty-much sober; a bit pissed-off and quite uncomfortable, the irritability from an incident at their drinking/lookout spot, the discomfort because this wasn’t my kind of scene.  

We’d arrived at the school a bit too early, Phillip and Ray and Billy B (one of the Billys) and I were leaning on or walking around Ray’s car; parked, parallel to the street, lights on and engine running, doors open, on the asphalt parking lot that sloped down from the school to the road in front of the cafeteria/gym.  Music was coming from his tape deck.  Cream.  “White Room,” from “Wheels of Fire,” Ray’s pick for a perfect song.  Some parents, there to pick up their kids, had waited long enough that they’d turn off their engines. 

“Maybe it went into overtime,” Ray said.

“Orange Glen,” Billy B said; “Fuck, man, we could have gone there and back by now.”

“No.  No.  We’d have missed the fun.”  Phillip looked at me, punched his left palm with his right hand, “Joey punching out Rusty fucking McAndrews.”

Ray and Billy B looked at me.  I wasn’t amused.  They were.  “I should have taken the Falcon.  Escape vehicle.”

Billy B jumped between Ray and me and made a couple of hodad/kook surf moves.  “We have to get going early enough tomorrow to beat the weekend crowds, huh Ray?”  No response.  He looked at me. “Huh, Joey?”   When I didn’t respond, he jumped over next to Phillip.  “Huh, Phil?”

“Yeah, Billy B, early.”

Billy B came a bit too close to me.  “I was going to stay over at Phil’s, but, hey, let’s just get our boards and shit and fuckin’ head out after the bus comes back.  Sleep on the beach and…”

“Nope.  And, please quit breathing on me.  Huh?”

Ray pushed Billy B away from me.  “We’ll get you home, Joey.  Jeez; you’ll be a fucking hero once word gets out about…”  Ray did a fake punch toward my chest, backed away quickly, one hand protecting his face, the other his chest.  Phillip and Billy B laughed.   My friends’ faces were still glowing, as if the beer added a certain piss-orange color to their cheeks, and they were all still a bit unsteady.  “McAndrews; never liked him… or his younger brother.”

“And, wait… his brother…”  Now Phillip was too close to me.  “Is he the guy you slammed into the…?”

“Water fountain,” Ray said.  “Yeah.  Yeah, he was.  Sixth grade.  It was, like, my second week in Fallbrook and Joey’s knocking people’s teeth out.  Whoa.  Pretty scary!”

“There’s the first bus,” I said.  We could see the lights; headlights, interior lights; unmistakably two buses, across the lower fields, over on the highway.  Highway? I never thought of it as more than a road.  Two lane road heading west, toward the ocean.  

Though the road was probably three hundred yards away, it was close enough that we could hear honking.  Suddenly a car raced around both buses, pulled back in, very close to a car coming from the opposite direction.  More horns, this time including a long blaring honk from the lead bus, and a ‘shave and a haircut… two bits’ series of honks from the car, now slowing down considerably, leading the busses.

Billy B said, “Whoa!”   Phillip said, “Fucking idiots.”  Ray said, “Grant Murdoch.  For sure.”

It was a minute or so before Grant Murdoch’s mother’s car came into view around the school buildings, tires squealing, then squeaking as it turned from the rougher road to the slicker parking area, horn honking.  

That parking lot, with its shallow drop toward the gym, and the sidewalks around the school buildings, were perfect for skateboarding if it had been allowed. it wasn’t formally disallowed until Phillip, Ray, Erwin, and I slalomed on the sidewalks one hot afternoon, August 1967- busted by some summer school substitute teacher.

The overlarge American four-door circled the four of us, backed up against Ray’s car; all four of its occupants flipping us off.  The car was parked, slightly uphill of us, parallel to the approach road, cigarette smoke coming out of the open windows, music louder than Ray’s 4 track, engine revving.  The Doors; “Summer’s Almost Gone,” as I remember, from “Waiting for the Sun.”

Reasonable; sure; we were still huge Doors fans; self-disenfranchised suburban teenage males.

And, sure, we knew these particular idiots.  This was their version of a Friday night adventure.  They had gone to the game at Orange Glen, looked for a fight on the bleachers, threw empty bottles out the windows on the highways and roads between Valley Center and Fallbrook.  Fun.

One of the idiots, another of the Billys, Billy G, sometimes referred to as Bigger Billy, jumped out of the backseat, uphill side, leaned in toward the car in the area between the opened door and the trunk area.

“Urine,” Ray said, as a stream came from under the car and down the asphalt.

“Billy fucking G,” Billy B said, laughing and pointing, “He’s fuckin’ pissing.”  His voice got louder.  “Go, Bigger Billy!  Shit; that’s a quart, at least.”

To help with any Billy confusion, Billy B-2, mentioned earlier, had, by this time, moved away; his father transferred to Twenty-nine Palms.

“Here’s the bus,” Phillip said, waving at a girl about halfway back on the still-moving vehicle, her arm out a window, more pointing than waving, pointing at something past Phillip, past us.

Seconds later, more students were pointing.

It was Grant.  Grant Murdoch.  He had fallen out of the driver’s door and onto the pavement (just out of the urine stream), and was convulsing, rolling around, his body spasming.  His compatriots were gathering around him, turning to the advancing parents, appealing for help, as the second bus arrived, with the team; and kids and chaperones and teachers from the buses started unloading.

Billy B seemed concerned, ran toward Grant.  Phillip and Ray looked at me.  “Fucking Grant,” Ray said, putting out an arm to try to stop me from walking toward the big car.

Phillip said, “Not worth it, Joey; don’t…”

Members of the Big Car Idiot Crew, each of the three near Grant, and then Billy B, were yelling; “Help him, help him!”  “He’ll swallow his tongue!”  “Oh, my God!”

Grant had just been flipped onto his back when I got to him, foamy spittle coming out of his mouth, eyes fluttering.  I stood over him for a second before I put my foot on his throat.

“Good evening, Grant,” I said, calmly.  Sort of calmly. 

A grownup grabbed me by one arm, another on the other arm, pulled me back. 

I resisted.  “What?  What!”

“What the hell do you mean, ‘what?’”  It was Martha Dewey’s dad on my right arm.  “You think because of your father you can get away with this… this… (lowering his voice) shit.”

“Please let me go, Mr. Dewey,” I said.  I thought it more a demand than a request.  “Sir.”

Grant Murdoch rolled to his side, then to his stomach, and leapt to his feet with amazing speed.

“What?”  That was Mr. Dewey, still holding my arm after the other grownup had let go.

“I didn’t know you were here, Jody,” Grant said, trying to wipe the spittle off his chin with two other dads holding him, more in a supportive way, before he shook himself loose.  “Sorry, man.  Just for fun, you know.”

While some parents were pulling their children away from this scene, Mrs. Dewey and Martha were among a group headed our way.  I looked at Mr. Dewey, his hand still on my arm.  I gave him a look that I meant as a reference to the alcohol on his breath, made a motion to suggest he should look at the lipstick on the collar of his white dress shirt.

I believed he got the messages.  He looked at his wife and daughter, approaching, then at me.  He released his grip, stepped between Grant and me, started to say something to Grant; something like, “You’ve got some nerve, young man…”

Grant Murdoch threw up.  Some beer, maybe some pizza, God knows what else. Most of what Grant threw up got on Mr. Dewey.

There were brief cheers from some of the nearby high school boys, bolder cheers from a couple of the out-of-high school guys who hadn’t yet found another place to hang out on a Friday night. 

“You got Lucky, Mr. Dewey,” I said, smiling at my own cleverness; all the more clever in that Mr. Dewey completely understood it.  “Martha.  Mrs. Dewey,” I said to Martha and Mrs. Dewey as I passed them.

Adventure.  Fun.  Friday nights.

What Thought has to do with It

I’ve spent too much time on Youtube lately, what with the big ass swell hitting Hawaii, and now California; and with at least one part of the latest national nightmare closer and closer to some undoubtedly (by which I mean hopefully and peacefully) anti-climatic conclusion; guy loses, won’t concede, wants a military sendoff after coup failed, sneaks out of town at dawn… yeah, yeah, yeah; feels like we saw that one already, seems derivative. And, though we try to forget it, there’s the ongoing omni-demic, can’t count fast enough to keep up with the cases and deaths. One, one thousand, two, two thousand, three, three thousand…

If I could just concentrate on surf videos, raw footage from Big Rock and Waimea Bay and Jaws and Mavericks, I would. And I can, for a while, before my mind wanders. And Youtube offers such delightful options: Politics from whatever side you’d consider risking your life to support; exposes on pretty much anything, new folks grabbing video and hoping to build enough followers to, maybe, make a living. Not sure how many that would take, but… wait, I’m still waiting for a list of who is getting pardoned, who might get executed in the final push; and I’m just not all that patient.

For God’s sake, it’s almost 9:30 pm, eastern time, and the outgoing president has to be at the airport at dawn. So, yes, still some suspense in what someone must have imagined as an ultimate reality show. Waiting.

Thinking. Okay, so, because I have some history of checking out things other than “If I drive ten miles with the emergency brake on, will I have any brakes when it all cools down?” and “How to replace brake pads,” I sometimes get things related to Bob Dylan. And so it was that I got onto a little video with Dylan and Joan Baez. Trish and I have seen both of them in concert, though not together, and I have followed their… okay, I might be enough of a romantic to believe they could have been happy together.

So, here’s the scene: Bob says Joan went off and got married. Joan says Bob got married first, without telling her, and he could have told her. Bob hims and hahs and says yeah, but he got married to someone he loved. Joan says, yeah, and she married someone she thought she loved. Then Bob, after sufficient pauses, says, “See, that’s what thought has to do with it.” Pause. “Thought will FUCK you up.”

Joan Baez and Bob Dylan from Rolling Thunder tour. Photo from Vanity Fair

And it will, and it can; and it does.

Or maybe I just imagine that there’s such a thing as blissful ignorance.

Wait, here’s an admission: Because I have stated, publicly, my belief that any and all relationships between two people are fragile, tentative, and have the distinct possibility of ending at any given moment, I didn’t actually consider that the relationship between these two, on and off and on and off again; that whatever level of understanding and appreciation of each other, of love for each other they have now; that might be about as good a relationship, over time one can hope to have with another human being.

I won’t admit to being a romantic, hopeless or otherwise, but I do plead the fifth on thinking too much. “Thought will FUCK you up.”

Incidentally, quick mention of “Swamis,” my ever more polished, still too long and too complicated novel; there may be a bit of an underlying romantic-ness in there.

NEXT TIME, I swear, I will write about ADAM WIPEOUT’S big wipeout. I have never spent so much time discussing one wave in my lifetime of talking surf story; and, I promise, I will spend some more, including (note the suspense) a guest visit by BIG DAVE.

Of course, first we have to get through tomorrow. I

UPDATE – It seems like the slimiest and least surprising pardon traded was for the slime ball who collected money from maga folks and kept a cool million or so to work on his tan. Who loves ya’ baby? OH, can’t help mentioning that, while the helicopter was lifting off, “I did it my way” was playing.

“Outside in the distance, a wildcat did growl, two riders were approaching, and the wind began to howl.”