I’ve always sort of been mesmerized by surfing, and surfers. But I never thought I’d become one. For starters, I never lived close to the ocean. And until recently I had never been particularly drawn TO the ocean. Growing up my family took exactly one vacation a year and it was always to Hampton Beach, New Hampshire. Sure, I enjoyed frolicking around in the surf. I especially loved getting tossed around by huge waves. Body surfing, people called it. But I just thought of it as seeing how big of waves I could withstand getting crushed by and still come up breathing. As it turned out, I could handle some pretty monster waves. I woiuld get tossed and tubmled around by the ferocious power of the cresting walls of whitewater until I feared I had already drawn my last breath, and then would be let up above the water line just before my brain shut off due to lack of oxygen. Not that there was ever anyone to bare witness to my pre-pubescent feats of courage and resolve. Because this was back in the days when parents would allow their kids to wander off past the ocean’s edge while they were perfectly content to be shopping for salt water taffy hundreds of yards away. The waves themselves were pretty dangerous, but really, weren’t the half of it. The real danger were the land-sharks that were always lurking about, yearning to catch glimpses of young boys losing not the life and death struggle with the waves, but just their swim trunks. If only for a few precious fleeting seconds. Total creepazoids.
Thankfully I never got abducted by any of those lecherous low lifes. Probably because I had developed a highly tuned pedo-meter from a young age. I’ve got my Mom to thank for that. For as long as I can remember, whenever we were out in public and I needed to visit that Hawaiian god – King Takealiki – she would drag me into the women’s room. I had long curly hair back then (not much has changed, except then it was naturally blonde, go figure!) so she would loudly call me “Joanne” for some reason, as if it was some sort of sin to bring your son into a women’s toilet. Whenever I protested, she would tell me that I couldn’t go into a men’s room by myself because there was a very high likelihood that there would be a strange man in there who would try and cut my penis off. What kind of a fucked up thing is that to tell a child? You know whats even weirder? A quick google search shows that if someone is gonna be cutting off Little Jimmy’s Willy, the overwhelming odds are that the offender is likely to be, wait for it, the mother!!! It’s horrifying to think now that my mother was a precursor of those people who don’t want transgender women using female restrooms. OR, as they should be more widely known, pieces of shit. I always thought that I grew up in a progressive household. My dad was a staunch democrat, borderline socialist, really, and my older sister was an avowed feminist. And we grew up being told that racism was flat out wrong. At least by my immediate family. Plenty of the extended family loved to espouse on the evils of Puerto Ricans and, for some strange reason, Laotians.
I wonder how many Loatians even surf? It’s a completely landlocked country. Just about a quarter of the counties on earth are landlocked. 49 our of 195 to be exact. Weird fact right? Only two of them happen to be in South America. The rest are in Asia and Europe and Africa. Laos is one of them. But I’m betting there’s at least a couple of surf shops there. That’s the thing about surfing. The whole world is starting to catch the wave. Probably has something to do with how mobile everyone is nowadays. Modern transport has shrunken the world. Seemingly everyone can go wherever they want at any time. Sure that’s an exaggeration, but surfing isn’t just for the coastal elite nowadays.
But back to my Summer vacations. I never considered being a surfer because I never even really learned how to swim. Sure, you could throw me into a pool, even into the deep end! And I would inevitably doggie paddle my way to safety. But you certainly weren’t gonna get me out into the deep waters of an ocean or even a lake. Mostly I preferred frolicking in the surf and building sand castles and playing frisbee, and, eventually, chasing babes around. Or at least staring at beautiful bouncy boobies in bathing suits or bikinis. I guess that’s another thing I learned from Momma.
It wasn’t until 2016 actually that I learned to swim. I signed up for a triathlon with about 6 weeks notice and the first thing I did was go and take swimming lessons. You know that old adage about how “You don’t know what you don’t know”? That was so true for me. I had no idea how bad of a swimmer I was until I went for those lessons. And then I worked very hard at becoming a better swimmer. And now I can honestly say that not only am I a pretty decent swimmer, but that I enjoy swimming as both a form of exercise AND recreation.
And nowadays I also enjoy the beach, because of the sunshine. That’s something that living in London taught me. Before I lived in Old Blighty I did almost everything I could to avoid direct sunlight. I *always* opted for shade. Except for when I golfed. But after I moved to thje Big Smoke I took any opportunity J could to just bake in the sun. I guess that’s what living in the gray-est country on earth will do to you.
And now I’m a beach rat. An unapologetic beach rat. I take every opportunity I can to pay out in the sun. Which means I find myself at beaches or pools or summertime rooftops in the city with shocking regularity. And this year I decided to skip out on the cold entirely and to Winter In Los Angels. And take up surfing. And guess what? It’s so much fucking harder than it looks. But I’m getting there. One day, and one paddle at a time. And you wanna know the irony? The water here in the winter is fucking FREEZING.
But I won’t back down.