Gifts for the Truly Deserving…

  …and the rest of us.

Waves, rideable waves, somewhere on the scale between junky/fun and perfect, are a product of strong winds at a distance, a favorable or lack of wind at a beach that has the right bottom contour, the right orientation to the swell; and at a tide level that suits the spot; high tide here, low tide there; incoming, outgoing. It takes so many factors to produce a perfect wave. Or a near-perfect wave. Or a fun wave.

A gift.

Sure. It isn’t difficult to acknowledge this.

It is too often said that surfers, surfing, should be the happiest folks around.

So, here’s a couple of stories kind of fitting for the season of dark and storm and rain and occasional offshore winds, occasional combinations of factors, occasional gifts:

another gift

ONE- Most of the breaks on the Strait are adjacent to streams and rivers. Heavy rains have moved rock and gravel and forced long walling swells into sculpted peaks, directed the incoming energy down a line.

What natural forces have created; the same forces can also destroy. So it was that what was once a rarely breaking spot became a sometimes wonderous break; and then was altered, gravel moved, bottom contour shifted. Another wave, gone.

With the wave went the crew that tried to localize the break with threats and aggression.

Well, next spot, same behavior.

Bear in mind that there are very few true locals. Realize that if you play the local card here, you are a visitor everywhere else. An interloper, a, let’s just say, guest.

We should also admit that localism works, to an extent. Ruin someone’s fun, that person might not come back. This from surfers who endure multiple skunkings in exchange for occasional waves, write that off, justify the expense of traveling and waiting and not working.

I am talking about a specific incident; but that one assault, and I will call pulling the leash of another surfer who has, by our long-established priority guidelines, the right to that particular wave; that one aggressive, self-centered, possibly dangerous and possibly criminal act, that assault is one among, if not many, too many.

TWO- It was (here’s one from the past- just to keep it out here) “Colder than a snow-capped brass witches’ tit.” I was aware that it was a day we probably would have been surfing, but it being December, this was the only day a painting job in Silverdale could be completed.

With help from Reggie and Steve, it was. At dark, another frontal system showing.

Exhausting, but Steve, for one of his jobs, had to go to Lowes. I had the van for transporting the twelve-foot baseboard stock. Okay. I wanted to treat Steve and me to some Arby’s. I wanted to get some gas at Costco.

Costco is the training ground for aggressiveness. Parking, checking out, moving through the aisles; split second decisions are needed.

I was headed pretty much straight for the gas pumps. I got to a stop. I was turning right. This guy in a truck was turning left. I had priority. He cut me off. Then, turning left into the non-full waiting area, he cut off someone coming straight. Another priority foul. Fucker.

But me, no, I was calm, putting in cards, punching in numbers, looking over at the fucker in the silver Silverado, topping off his tank. I didn’t call him out. I just spoke, with my outdoor voice, to the guy across from me. “Hope the asshole has some place really important to get to.” Shit like that. None of it really mattered. The Silverado shithead grabbed his receipt and peeled out.

“Mine, mine, mine!”

THREE- Enroute to Arby’s, I had to go down to the traffic light with the longest wait time in all of Silverdale; just past, on the right, The Lover’s Package and the Sherwin-Williams, both closed; and on the left, a church.

Ahead of me I see a thin man in a boony hat pushing a man in a wheelchair across the road, left to right. Whoa!. Dangerous. I pulled my big ass van into the center of the road so some other hurried Silverdalian wouldn’t hit them.

Best I could do.

Long light. I got to watch this: The guy in the boony hat gets the wheelchair to the curb. The guy in the wheelchair is too big to get him and the chair up to the sidewalk. The wheelchair guy pretty much falls out onto the sidewalk. He has one leg. One. He does a half crawl across the sidewalk to a post for, I don’t know, a light or something. Boony hat gets the wheelchair up to the sidewalk. The guy with one leg pulls some blankets and, maybe, a jacket off the wheelchair. He maneuvers himself until he has his back against the pole. The boony hat guy starts covering him with the blankets, parks the wheelchair. They both, possibly, prepared for the night; a cold fucking night.

The light changes. I turn left onto Silverdale Way, make an immediate right into Arby’s. I wait for Steve. We go inside. I order. They don’t have milkshakes. Damn. I get a large drink, only a few cents more than a small. I create a ‘graveyard,’ a mixture of most but not all of the available drink choices. It is something I learned from chaperoning, back when my kids where in school. Delicious. Two classic beef and chedders for six bucks. Great for the ride home.

No, I didn’t do anything to help anyone. I could have. Two for six bucks. I was tired. It would be forty-five minutes to get home, if the bridge was open and no one decided to crash and close the highway.

No moral here, no high ground. Writing this doesn’t do shit for the one-legged guy or the boony hat guy. Wait, maybe there’s this: Given the choices each of us has, multiple times every day, to be an asshole or not be an asshole; occasionally choose not to be an asshole.

I could add, whether or not you believe in angels, for that guy in the wheelchair, the thin man in the boony hat… angel.     

“Swamis” & RSRD; A Cutback Wraparound

I continue to tighten my manuscript. This is something I cut. Because, some day, in some quite obviously self-imagined and delusional future, publishing it here might be prove to be instructional; and really, truthfully, because I have severe Written Stuff Retentive Disorder (RSRD), and hate to just throw stuff I’ve written into some dark void; because I feel the need to explain where stuff came from and why I thought this stuff needed to be in “Swamis,” the novel, originally. But, without explaining why it now needs to be cut, here’s… this:

No, not quite yet. I steal stories from other people’s lives, rearrange stories from my own. My father is not the same person as Joseph DeFreines. No, but the story is stolen (or adapted) from a real life incident, one in which my father was sent home, quite bruised up, after an altercation on his Civil Service job with the then phone service on Camp Pendleton, run with civilian workers and Marine supervision. My father’s boss was always a Marine. The phone service has long been since taken over by corporate providers.

One of the Marines assigned to the crew did refuse my father’s kind request to get off of the backhoe. Somehow, in the incident, someone wrapped a chain, at speed, around my dad. He came home bruised. There was an investigation; mostly, I have to guess, on how polite my father actually was in his request. The “So, not a fair fight then?” quote is probably pretty accurate.

My father kept his job, retired from it.

The story was meant to show something about the character of Officer and then Detective DeFreines. The story of an incident between Joseph DeFreines, Junior and another Little League player was one of several anecdotes showing how Joey/Jody DeFreines, particularly when he was younger, was capable of violence. That background information would, hopefully, set up some tension going forward in the novel as the situations become more intense.

I took (or stole) the nickname Shiner from a guy I was in the local Volunteer Fire Department with. I never asked him where the name came from, never really had a run in with him… except that one time, when I borrowed his turnout gear and climbed under a car with a severe gas leak. Shiner was pissed, the gear was… well, it may or may not have been salvageable. Shiner and I do exchange nods or more when we run into each other at the Quilcene Post Office. So…

Stolen image: Other kids’ parents misbehaving

My father didn’t tell war stories from the World War II or Korea. “Long gone,” he would say. He created new stories. With the driest, wryest sort of expression he would retell ‘The Kindly Step Out of My Car’ story.

I was thirteen, had just started board surfing, and my mom promised she would take us to Tamarack, but only after we went to Freddy’s little league game. I had been removed from my team after an incident. The discussion between the coach and my father ended with my father saying, “No, I won’t let him quit; you have to say you’re kicking him off.” Decided.

My mom guilted my dad into meeting us at Freddy’s game. “It is in Vista, Joseph. You work in Vista.” He showed up, fourth inning. Some kid’s dad was three innings drunk and belligerent, screaming at players and coaches and umpires from the right field fence.  

To calm the Drunk Dad down, my dad walked him over to the parking lot. He did not invite Drunk Dad to sit inside his brand-new unmarked car, and especially not in the front seat.

“With him ready to puke and all, I did, politely, ask the gentleman to, kindly, step out of my car.”

At this point there would be a pause or a switch in tone, or an actual wink.  

My mom and some Fallbrook folks and I watched from the left field bleachers. Vista folks grouped up on the right field side. We couldn’t really hear what was said. Pantomime. Several Vista Dads headed toward the show. A Friend of the Drunk Dad, also drunk, hit my father across the back (three cracked ribs) with a bat (all were wooden in those days- hickory, mostly), and, when my father turned around and requested a fair fight, politely; smack (severely bruised left arm).

In telling this story, my dad, in his professional and quite monotone voice, would say, “At that point, the gentleman did get out of my car, but decided to tackle me from behind. So, I’m on the ground, I look up at these two, um, citizens, and I say…”

On the various occasions when my dad would break into this story, someone would finish his quote. “So, not a fair fight, then?”

Both of the Drunk Dads ended up on the ground, a foot on one (broken jaw), a bat (in my dad’s left hand) tight against the chest of the other (bruised sternum). 

My father’s next line was, “So, the judge asks me if I’m sure I said, ‘kindly’ in a polite sort of way. Since he’d already given the Drunk Dads total exoneration and the Sheriff’s Office, worried about being sued, had paid for all their medical expenses, I said, ‘Judge; when I say kindly, I don’t always say it… politely.’” 

He told the story enough times that the pauses were appropriately placed, the timing perfect.  “Politely.” 

Because I do tell stories, here is “More Tits, Bobby:”

“You shouldn’t have run,” my father said, “it made you look guilty.” Oh, we were. I was eleven (1962), my down the block neighbor, Bobby Hudson (who got away, temporarily) and I had been digging through my dad’s assortment of “National Geographic” magazines in one of the big greasy drawers in the old Post Office oak desk that became the base for the garage workbench.

“It was Bobby’s idea. He was finding the pictures, I was just…”

“Looking? Yes. Junior, I heard ‘More tits, Bobby,’ from outside.”

I didn’t consider, at the time, why my dad kept those particular issues, each one containing at least one topless ‘native,’ in that drawer.

The “Just Smile” story:

This was, again, the summer of 1965. I was almost fourteen, had started surfing, but was expected to live up to my commitment and to graduate from Little League to Pony League baseball. That didn’t happen.

“Anger is almost always because we’re mad at ourselves,” my father said. I hadn’t told the Coach and wouldn’t tell my dad why I punched out the kid from Rainbow, wouldn’t tell him what the kid called me. I knew I didn’t have to.

“The next time someone gives you… guff,” my dad said, as he exited and I was about to enter the one bathroom at our Magarian tract house, “just smile. Really. Laugh; it’s even better.”

“So, he wins?”

“He’s still on the team. Is that winning?”

“But Dad, see; I did do that. I did… smile.”

I wanted to cry; knew I couldn’t cry in front of him. He knew I’d cry if he left. He stayed. We practiced my smile at the bathroom door mirror, trying to find, so we could eliminate it, the one I gave the kid from Rainbow before I smacked him with his own glove.

“That one, Junior; that is one scary fucking smile.”

It was the first time he used any swear word at all in front of me. It was an evil, crazy smile. I tried to hold it, broke into a laugh. And my dad laughed.

“Half of that, that would be perfect. People like that; they have to know you mean business but you’re holding back.”

“Here’s my… on-the-job smile.” Confident, with a faked friendliness, his eyes moving, calculating. Anyone receiving that smile would have to know Joseph DeFreines was capable, if necessary, of violence. “Practice, Junior; and, really, don’t feel like you have to get even. If you knew that kid’s family, um, situation, you’d… save your guilt and, and your anger… for something bigger.”

Guilt?  I hadn’t felt particularly guilty for hitting the Kid from Rainbow, or for striking out of Little League.

“Oh, incidentally,” my father said, with a slightly less friendly version of the same smile, “since you’re freed up from baseball, I’ve signed you up for Devil Pups.” He did a little marching move on the way out of the hallway. “One two three four… one two… three four.”

“Nip,” the Rainbow Kid called me, again, two days later, in the cafeteria; loud enough for those in the vicinity to hear. He was smiling, others were laughing. “Jap,” he added.

I sat down next to my tormentor, squeezing another Rainbow kid over. Rainbow, for reference, is an area East of Fallbrook, out on highway 395, now Interstate 15, south of Temecula, which is now huge. I set my metal tray of food in front of me, looked at each of his friends until they looked away, looked at him, at his swollen eye. If he didn’t look as if he’d take his words back, he did look a bit worried as I moved even closer.

I know I had my new smile on my face. Practice. “Shiner,” I said, and laughed.

There was a pause. I waited. Patiently, eyes on the Kid.

“Shiner,” someone else said; then another; everyone at the table except Shiner laughing.

And then Shiner laughed. The nickname stuck. Shiner. Never surfed. Became a civilian Firefighter at Camp Pendleton.

Okay, so the “More Tits” portion: True stuff, based on my neighbor, Bobby Turner, and me going through Bobby’s father’s collection of “National Geographic;” definitely porn for eleven year olds.

I have, incidentally, figured out a way to include a condensed version of the “Kindly” story in with the STUFF currently in the manuscript.

PREVIEW: I am working on a piece on the most disputed part of surf etiquette; THE BACKPADDLE. No, I am not admitting to any guilt; merely pointing out the subtleties. Soon.

Black and White and Psychedelic, Plus Polar Bear Wetsuits Flyer

Though I’m quite focused on finishing my novel, “SWAMIS,” surviving Winter and its lack of real revenue, and keeping my heart healthy enough to survive at least one more SEAHAWKS game; I have taken a little time to work on artsy stuff.

AND, partially due to a recent event in which I selfishly burned (as in took off on a wave next to but down the line from) a well known local surfer… Here’s the rule on that: Burn someone who is equally aggressive (and transgressive, etiquette-wise), or burn someone who is a relatively close friend; and you might be forgiven (plus, you have given that surfer the right to burn you on one [only] equally or better wave); but take off on someone who seems to follow all the rules (that is, is patient, passes up incredibly seductive set waves without whining, as in saying ‘wave of the day’ in the most sarcastic way, or splashing water); and, even if this surfer doesn’t instantly (and rightly) call you out for the callous, childish, greedy wave hog that you are; anyone else who witnesses your selfish move (and there’s always a witness) will; and if you cemented your own reputation for ruthless surf crimes, years ago, for burning, among others, this very same individual (even though you apologized and he said, “It’s all good.”  It’s never all good.  No one ever means this); and, even though you did, indeed, apologize for your most recent lineup infraction (this time he said, “You don’t really mean it,” and you- I mean me, of course- kind of lost the first person/second person narrative for a second- said, “No, I do,” and you meant that- mostly due to now realizing you’ve sentenced yourself to another seven years or so of bad karma and mandatory niceness/deference toward that individual any time you/I and he are in the same lineup); and partially due to my telling another local surfer (and witness) about how Trish, not surprised at my criminal behavior, would call this incident ‘just another greedy fat boy trick;’ and then I had to explain the history of that phrase; and partially due to Trish getting all excited (not about the incident) and suggesting I might write a series, possibly for future publication, entitled, “Erwin and His Greedy Fat Boy Tricks;” because of all this; I’m thinking about it.

It being my recalcitrant behavior, and, just to throw in another word I looked up just to make sure I spelled it correctly, yes, I must be, might just be, despite repeated claims to be changing my ways, a recidivist wave hog.

Again, trying to change.

The first and defining ‘greedy fat boy’ story would be this: Second eldest of seven children, with both parents working, I, partially because I seemed to be the one who got up earliest, made sack lunches for the nine of us from the age of twelve or so, about the time, coincidentally, that I started board surfing. Sandwiches.  Lots of peanut butter and jelly or lunchmeat, about a loaf a day.  My parents would bring home a bag of cookies each night, and it was my job to dispense them.  Evenly.  “Okay, eight cookies each.”  Crunch, crunch.  “Seven each.”  More crunching. I once did get down to three and a half each, but it might have been a smaller bag.

Greedy fat boy.

Other stories would have to include my insistence that I developed my bad (O could say unpopular but effective) surf techniques and (oh, I want to say skills- that would be wrong) skills, my ‘ghetto mentality,’ surfing in crowded city lineups.

“But you’re not in the city now,” you might counter. Hmmm.

“And then,” Trish said, “You can go with the greedy fat man.”  “Hey.” “It’d be all right; you’re only being self-deprecating.”  “Oh; okay then.”

Still love cookies.  Too many fucking cookies.

Okay, so here’s my latest illustration.  Yes, it’s all out black and white psychedelia.  Yes, I have told those who I’ve shown it to that, yes, I want people to wonder what kind of drugs the person who drew this is on.

Scan_20200107 (2)

Here’s my fake flyer for fake wetsuit company, Polar Bear Wetsuits.  “Maximum stretch, minimum shrink.”

Scan_20200107

MEANWHILE… Good etiquette has its rewards (or so they tell me).

Burning Scott Sullivan (Parts Two and One)

                                                A Second- 2nd Scott Sullivan Encounter/Incident

-PART TWO-

IT WAS JUST A SECOND, really; two Costco shoppers passing in the dairy/coffee aisle in the Sequim warehouse/store.

You don’t recognize people you don’t really know instantly; it takes a second.  We were both in a hurry; he with one of the big orange carts, me with the regular one (slightly larger, you might have noticed, than one at a regular supermarket- or, even, WalMart).

I think it was his mustache.  Yeah, one of those with the ends twisted and skinny, and pretty much brown.

SCOTT SULLIVAN.

I thought, or, possibly, imagined, that we made eye contact. Split the above second. Maybe he thought he recognized me. Maybe.

Not that he might instantly remember where and when we met previously; the first Scott Sullivan Encounter

NOW, I was wearing an ORIGINAL ERWIN t shirt, the baby poop yellow one with the lacy white wave. YEAH, that one (the baby poop thing is from Trish, I call the color ‘golden haze’); and, hey, I do have a possibly-recognizable mustache/soul patch combo of my own, white, with, quite often, coffee-stain brown at the scraggly bottom edges.

I didn’t just do an over-the-shoulder lookback, I DID A PIVOT/HALF TURN, right between the doors for the sour cream/cottage cheese and the one percent milk.

YES, Scott Sullivan; had to be, pushing toward the final goal, checkout, with a cart full of dairy products, flour, other fixins for making PIZZA.

HAD TO BE.

MY FIRST THOUGHT, with both of us, obviously, having gone, as the place is designed, clockwise from the entrance, past the clothing and lighting and pressure washers and furniture and fruit and meat, was how, suddenly, what I wanted most to do, was to CUT SCOTT SULLIVAN OFF! Exclamation point; BURN HIM at the checkout counter, last second, that split second when one must decide which open register would provide the fastest avenue to the next-but-last Costco line, the one at the exit.

“You think it’s yours, Scott Sullivan? NO! DENIED! Hahaha… ha!

costcoshoppers

IT ISN’T like I have any animosity toward Scott Sullivan, but it is that…

…COSTCO BREEDS COMPETITION.  That’s been my opinion for quite some time.  It’s a constant jockeying for position.  Picture the gas lines.  If only you could fill from the right side.  Durn.  Oh, you have a regular membership card?  I have a Corporate card.  You go for the optimum parking spot; close enough to either the entrance or one of the cart returns in the lot (in Australia, it’s probably the car park). NO, FIRST, you time your visit to when you believe it’ll be the most efficient.

IF YOU GET THERE at opening; sure, you can power through, fill your cart, cross out the items on your list; only to get to the front with fifty or so other dawn patrollers (if dawn is at 10 am), and one register open.  SIMILARLY, if you go late you will miss the free food samples (hummus or guacamole on various crispy items, soup, trail mix, skanky cheese, whatever; always worth a taste) that advanced Costco shoppers (many way more adept than you could be at the gather, half-stepping as another tray is put forth, swoop necessary to hit every sample offered; aka lunch) will elbow-smack you for. THEN AGAIN, lights dimming, everyone else is at the front, two cashiers (and, really, though it seems like a better idea than having the folks at the food court throw out the leftover item, as required, at closing, a slice of 8:29 Costco pizza is not good pizza), and the people at the register you chose need extra assistance in ringing-up that really big TV, the one you can actually watch from your position three back in the line (elsewhere called the queue, which we, in A-merica, don’t really use because we don’t know how to spell it).

STRAIT SLICE PIZZA, 121 1ST STEEET (that’s 101, really, the one-way going in-to-town), PORT ANGELES, WASHINGTON; SCOTT SULLIVAN, OWNER.

Unsolicited advertising, Scott Sullivan.

scotSlvanStraitSlice

-PART ONE-

I DID WRITE about my first encounter with the well-known Port Angeles restauranteur, surfer, and, evidently, photographer/skier (or snowboarder, or both- don’t really know) on this very site. AND, WHEN I FOUND OUT HIS NAME, I DID NAME NAMES.  Scott Sullivan.

BUT, at the request of a friend I should probably not name, but will (ADAM WIPEOUT JAMES), I deleted the name; Adam’s main argument being that Scott Sullivan is popular with the P.A. surf crowd; and Erwin Dence is, perhaps, not.  FINE. I also did not, and won’t here, reveal the not-really-secret surf spot where I, allegedly, BURNED SCOTT SULLIVAN.  Feel free to guess.

BRIEF RECAP: I was there with MIKEL (SQUINTZ, still the best nickname I didn’t give someone) COMISKEY; and was, actually, one of the first people out.  It got, over the next two hours, crowded. I was, allegedly, catching more than my fair share of waves.  ALLEGEDLY. Squintz had been surfing a different peak, and had been in and out of the water (some of this due to his refusal to wear booties).  I got out of the water about the time Scott Sullivan came powering down to this peak, took off on a wave, and, moving up to a forward trim position, caught an outside edge on the inside; his leashless board nearly hitting a young woman.

That’s not really relevant. BUT, surfers do seem to kind of brag about how they’re leash-free, as if it equates to confidence or ability (and it may), while giving little to no beach cred to folks (me, for example) who surfed, pre-leash, ankle-naked, for seven or eight years before giving in to the swim- (and, often, swimmer) saving kook cord.

SO, now Squintz is trying to convince me, with the wind coming up, that, now that he’s at this peak, more waves will be coming.  OKAY, I paddle back out. AND, A FEW MINUTES LATER, there is, indeed, an outside set. I paddle over the first one, then the second, paddle toward the peak. I turn, start paddling for it.  I AM COMMITTED. That commitment is the key to my defense, your honor(s). 

BUT, SUDDENLY, Scott Sullivan maneuvers closer to the peak, turns, and takes off.

SO, by the rules handed down, unofficial but not unknown (passed through constant lectures and occasional ass-whippings), Scott Sullivan had priority.  PRIORITY. It was Scott Sullivan’s wave.

AGAIN, I was committed, couldn’t really bail at that moment.  WELL, if I did just dismount, the way one would (and I have) if there’s a danger of imminent contact with some kook who decided to paddle out rather than around, this might not be the story of how I BURNED SCOTT SULLIVAN.  I didn’t.  I was COMMITTED.

WHOA!   Okay, I did do what I believe to be the right thing; the thing I would want someone to do if they inadvertently took off in front of me.  I powered down the line, pulled over the top.  NOW, I still believe I heard something behind me, something like grumbling (or yelling- I do wear protective earplugs). 

FORTUNATELY, there was a fourth wave.  I took it.  I rode as far as I could.  PADDLING back (around the break), I observed big, angry arm movements from Scott Sullivan, directed, in my absence, at Mikel Squintz.  When I got back to the lineup, Scott Sullivan was gone, having moved to a position farther up the point.  “Um, uh; guess he’s kind of mad,” I said.  “Yeah.” “I was committed.” “Sure.” “Who is that guy?” “That’s what he asked about you.” “Oh?” “Yeah, he said that you’re not even from around here, and I said, ‘wait a minute, you’re from _________ (my memory isn’t clear on which upper east coast state Scott Sullivan came here from),’ and he just left.  You could apologize.”  “Apologize?” “Maybe.” “Sure.”

Mikel did mention that, even with the increased crowd, Scott Sullivan and I did seem to be getting most of the waves ridden. “And?” “Just saying.”

I did, incidentally, move to the OLYMPIC PENINSULA in 1978, first surfed this very (unnamed here) spot in January of 1979.  With useless California wax, an insufficient wetsuit, and, yes, a leash. 

SO, since I was well past ready to get out of the water, I paddled up toward Scott Sullivan.  “If I, um… if you thought I…” “I go surfing to get away from that kind of shit,” Scott Sullivan said.  “We all do,” I said, and paddled on. 

I’m sure I stopped at Costco on the way home.  I usually do.  Here’s a shot of me, in the ORIGINAL ERWIN shirt I was wearing, just in case,. So non-threatening. 

20181025_143412_resized

WAIT. ABOUT THE  BURNING from Part Two.  Didn’t happen. I had to stop to get peanuts for our yardbirds.  Scott Sullivan was long gone.  He, obviously, picked the right line.  ABOUT THE PIZZA.  I haven’t tried a Strait Slice slice; assume they’re great; I do know where some of the makins come from.  

Slow Down, No ThrowDown at the BroDown

“I always try to compete to be the best,” I said.

Now, I can, and do, edit what I write.  What I say in real time, however, is out there, it’s gone, in the time zone of ‘past,’ mostly ‘past imperfect’ tense.

Tense. Yeah. Five more minutes, I figured, and the guy who had been all “Aloha” was going to, possibly, want to throw down.  He had, he said, a history.  He had, he said, given a well-known Westport enforcer a beatdown years ago.  Cops were called.  Westside Oahu. Makaha. He knows Sunny, calls Buffalo ‘Uncle;’ said he did some enforcing.  Despite my being seventeen years older than him, he didn’t call me Uncle.

Now, after I went over the story with a couple of friends via cellular device, I began to believe I had, perhaps, over-reacted.  Maybe it was because the thought of someone actually throwing punches over some imagined (or even real) affront in the waves just seems like over-reacting.

Then I called Trish. “You have to think about what you say.” “Uh huh.” “What exactly did you say?”

Oh. So, again, let me rethink:

 

 

Discussions on who has priority.

It’s all about the windows.  The tide was going to drop off, the swell was supposed to drop, the wind was forecast to increase, and not at a good angle, not offshore.  There’s always the chance that you’ll get skunked; especially when the buoy readings, at the last place where my phone works, had already dropped to a size where, in my memory of collected skunking/scoring, the numbers favored flatness.

So, when I rolled up and saw waves… um, maybe I kind of over-amped. Pretty much a record time for me to get a suit on, booties, earplugs… and only two guys out. Guys I didn’t know.  Three surfers, three wave sets; shouldn’t be a problem.

The one surfer had just finished a ride and was lying on his very large standup paddle board. “You guys are probably exhausted from catching so many waves,” I said, paddling past him toward my lineup spot.

WAIT: Etiquette check. Perhaps I should have followed him, making sure to sit ‘outside’ of whatever position he decided to take.

THEN, scrapping around to catch waves that showed up on an outside reef, them, mostly, backed-off, regrouping on the main reef, I did, and I admit it, take off on the same wave as the other SUPer.

WAIT: Even if the guy closer to the peak, farther outside, missed a couple of waves, I probably should just let the wave go unridden rather than go for it.  Probably.

THEN, because I lost one of my earplugs, and didn’t want another three days of one-ear hearing, I went in, hung out with a couple of guys who were waiting for the incoming tide; giving the two other guys free rein.  So, nice.

THEN, MORE SURFING, more jockeying for position, but no more take-off-in-front-ofs by me.  Three wave sets, shouldn’t be a problem.  When it looked like the big surfer was going in, I did comment, “Hey, I know boating season started yesterday, but, um, do you have a license for that boat?”  Joke, yes; but the board, I swear, almost filled the bed of his small-sized truck, side to side. Very wide.

THEN, with the wind coming up and the tide bottoming-out, with more folks starting to fill the parking area, Darren deciding to paddle out before it got worse, I was changing-out on the beach, next to the big guy with the big board.

WAIT: There were, in retrospect, a few things I said that I probably shouldn’t have.

AFTER the big guy, who was pretty (and rightly) proud that he’d dropped many pounds, but had gained some of the weight back, then downed another beer, I could have avoided saying he should switch to coffee.

AFTER he said he’s sticking with the custom board, and said maybe he’s kind of a pussy, I didn’t need to say I think anyone who rides an SUP under 60 years old MIGHT BE (here’s a can’t-backspace words example- I said IS) a pussy.  Probably a mistake.

AFTER he said that if he see’s someone paddling past other surfers, taking off in front of other surfers, he has to say something (Pretty sure he meant me), I did say, “Hey, I only took off in front of him once.”  He disagreed.  Okay.

WAIT: Maybe I really shouldn’t have said that I don’t really get the whole paddling past other surfers thing. I paddle to my spot, everyone else is entitled to move. If my lineup is the one they want to use, come sit next to me, even inside me.  Paddle.  Move.  Jockey.  “Back when I started surfing, the best surfer got the most waves.”

“OH,” he said, possibly moving a bit closer to me, “Do you think you were the best surfer out there?”  Out of three. This is where I said, “I always try to compete to be,” and he came back with, “You aren’t.  See that guy over there?” Now dressed, talking to Clint. “He rips!”

OKAY. This is when, exactly, I thought about the last time I ever was involved in serious fisticuffs.  I was about 13. Butch Standefor. I only cried because I was frustrated because, though I wasn’t hurt, he wasn’t either.  SO, I lost. CLEARLY.

THEN I thought about my father.  He would throw down up until he died.  At 92.

SOOOOO, I walked away from the BIG GUY, he re-suiting to go for another session, his last word to me, “Aloha,” walked over to the other guy, shook his hand, introduced myself, apologized for the ONE time I took off in front of him.  He was nice.

LESSON LEARNED.

No, you don’t have to believe me. But, if we’re out together, sit by me. We can discuss which wave is who’s. Aloha.