It’s Like Mr. Peanut Without the Hat


Jeff Vaughn, who ripped up a large number of lefts while I was searching for a right that would clear the reef, casually doing the classic South Bay longboard drop-stand-and-turn, noseride, kickout or island pullout or flip backwards in a closeout, sent me a few shots from an uncrowded session at a sort-of-secret spot (as in, everyone knows about it, but no one is supposed to give the name out to any kooks who evidently don’t own a computer or know anyone who does, and who might show up on one of those rare, rare, extremely rare days when there are actually waves) somewhere on the Straits of Juan de Fuca.

I showed my wife, Trish, the ones of me, obviously trimming, quite casually, and in the right spot on the wave. The images were quite small and her comments included: “You weren’t wearing a hood (the other surfer out, a PA local and member of the Surfrider Foundation, whose name I should know, but don’t, was);” and, “At least you’re standing up;” and, “That stick (‘you mean paddle?’), it looks like, maybe, you use it to help you stand up;” and, in response to a question from me, “No, you don’t look that fat.” More like “THAT fat.”

I wrote back to Jeff, thanked him, sent the photos on to a few of my surfing friends. Well, pretty much all of them I have email addresses for, mostly so I didn’t have to describe the waves as “knee to waist high with the occasional head high sets, and the indicators, at the lefts and the rights, going off pretty regularly.”

Wow, the last paragraph pretty much messed up the timing for this: Jeff sent more photos, bigger, zoomed-in. In these photos, I do look THAT fat. No, you won’t be seeing them, but, when I showed Trish, complained about how I look less like the surfing super hero I know she thinks of me as, than an old fat guy in an embarrassingly stretched-to-the-limit wetsuit (but still in perfect trim), she merely nodded. Politely. “And yet,” when I tried to show her the same photo again, just to show the wave positioning, she said, “and yet you can’t stop looking at it.”

No. In fact, maybe I’ll print it up, stick that on the refrigerator.

Mister (never abbreviated to Mr.) Pugsley is not a Real Surfer


My daughter Drucilla’s cat, Mister Pugsley, in on the right. That’d be my right. I’d be the cat in the photo on the right. No, Dru, I don’t see any similarities… maybe the serious expressions. But, wait; Mister Pugsley looks just a bit, um… no, I think he’s just a serious cat.  Imagine Mister Pugsley, with an intent and serious expression, paddling like crazy for a wave that you also would like to ride. You may decide to give way.  All right, I’m going to stop looking; it’s just too intimidating.


NOTE: I started to have some ownership on the two words, real surfers, and to tell the story alluded to in the introduction (below). Maybe I didn’t realize I had so many other stories to tell; maybe I didn’t realize I still have a surfing life. So, I plan on serializing the novel that fictionalizes the real story and wraps other stories around it. It will, unfortunately, be in reverse order, but, after a few chapters, interspersed with other pieces, I’ll consolidate. When it’s all done; I’ll probably change the name to “Real Surfers,” what I always wanted to be.  I did a drawing, but I didn’t think it fit the mood, didn’t want to wait until I have the time to do one I actually like, so… here we go… thanks for coming along.

Love and Wars and Surfing and Some Amount of Magic

Surfing is part of the soundtrack; whoosh, wait, wait, wait, whoosh. Always has been. Well, maybe not surf itself; but it is the tides and winds, moving in waves, and the waves themselves, maybe even time itself, another wave, spinning ever outward, all providing the heartbeat of the planet. Whoosh…wait…wait…wait…whoosh.

“So, Dad; it has to be fiction?”
“Because… you know our memories are…”
“Corrupted? Flawed? Inaccurate?”
“Hmmm. Ha. Yeah.”
“Maybe your original story could be enough. Jeez; I’ve heard it for years; headed for San Onofre; you and Phillip Harper and Ray Hicks and…”
“Dru; I’ve asked Ray. He doesn’t remember this trip. Others; yes. I think it was always Bill Buel. See? I edited him out; stuck Ray in, because Ray was… because I never liked…I mean, Bill wasn’t my friend; Ray and Phil were.”
“And you were riding with Bucky Davis, your surf hero…”
“For a while. That’s part of it. If I broke down my… shit; it’s really just another surfer coming-of-age story, but, at such an, an almost unique angle. If …and, if I could break down my surf history, to, like, chapters; it’d be illustrated with the times I went surfing with Bucky Davis. Like five or six times over five or six years. Grandview, New Break, Swami’s, the last time… your mother was there… at the beach by the state park… South Carlsbad. and part of this, this bigger story, is how my image of Bucky and…”
“Matured. And there’s the love story; Bucky and Phillip’s sister. Trish.”
“Yeah; and, again, I don’t really know. We never know about other people’s lives… or loves, and I’m such a fucking romantic, I wanted that to…”
“To work out. But that’s all… it’s the hidden story, Dad; the, um, interplay between what you thought, that so many things were magic, magical; and what was real. The, I guess, surface story, is of you guys going from Fallbrook, across Camp… Camp?”
“Camp Pendleton, 1967; the Vietnam War in full swing, and the Marines, really, were all just a couple of years older than Phil and Ray… I’m sticking with Ray, and I; and Bucky was… he was right at draft age. And the war; everyone thought, was going to go on forever.”
“Well, it didn’t. New ones. But, you know, some other stuff happened on that trip.”
“Yeah. Yeah, it did; but, this far removed, this far gone, it seems… stopped by a Highway Patrolman and hassled before we even got to the back gate, running out of gas, pushing the VW up a couple of hills, coasting down, pushing it into the little PX outpost in another tent camp as marines marched by, us all cool surfers and they ready to go to… see? It seems like fiction, even to me; like I’ve seen it before.”
“But you did. And… see, even I know the story. And you did surf at San Onofre.”
“The surfing was almost incidental; I don’t really remember it, specifically. Another session. Just like with Ray, huh?”
“But the story; it ends up at Tamarack. Tamarack, right? After Bucky tore up his Dependent ID card, and couldn’t ever go back on the base; and you’re riding shotgun… for once. Right? And Phillip and… and we’ll say Ray; they’re asleep in the back, and Dylan comes on the radio.
“It was ‘Rainy Day Women #12 and 35.’ Rare on ’67 am radio.”
“Right. And, pretty soon you’re singing along, beating on the dashboard. And pretty soon, maybe because this was the perfect song for the perfect scene; you could see and hear the waves, just about to get glassy…”
“The afternoon glassoff.”
“The soundtrack and the… the soundtrack. And now; I love this part; Bucky, so, to you, ultra cool; Bucky’s beating on the dashboard, also, and you’re both trying to sing along.
‘Everybody must get stoned.’”
“Ev-ry-bo-dy mussssst get stoned!”
“Can you still see it?”
“There is magic in there somewhere.”
“Thanks. But, Dru; you know; now; because I… because real life doesn’t live up, maybe, because I’m going to steal other things I’ve seen, from other people’s lives, move things around; and, and, mostly, maybe, because I haven’t, um, lived up… it’ll be fiction.”
“Dad? Has your life contained enough… magic?”
Woosh, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait… woosh.