I like everything about surfing. I like dressing like a teenager. I like doing that thing with your little finger and thumb that conveys some form of happiness. I like taking words like “amped and stoked” and putting them in sentences to describe my mood, even when I’m not feeling overly amped or stoked. I like waxing my board and I can assure you that is not a euphemism. I quite like the way a wetsuit feels, not in a kinky way, it’s like getting a nice, firm, hug from your favourite uncle you haven’t seen for a while. I like the bit before you get in the water and you look at the waves with a contemplative expression that suggests you know what you’re doing. The bit where your dignity is still intact and you have convinced yourself that you belong in a wetsuit.
In fact I like everything about surfing, except for surfing itself. That’s not true I like the idea of surfing, I like watching others surf but what I do is different. I walk out as far as I can until the water just below my nostrils, because I’m too lazy to paddle, and then I clamber up onto the board. Usually I fall off a few times with all the grace of a drunken karaoke goer trying to get up on stage.
And then I’m there, in the moment, every fibre and sinew of my body eagerly waiting for the perfect wave, in my mind I can visualise myself riding that wave and boy do I look cool. I arch my back to get a better view and off in the distance I can see the makings of a biggie. This is it, this is my moment. I can feel my heart pumping against my board, a healthy mix of fear and adrenaline. It’s getting closer and closer and then suddenly, it smashes the bejesus out of me, sucks me under and only lets me out once it is sure I’ve learnt my lesson.
As I splash about in the water in my blubbery black wetsuit, it occurs to me that to any passing sharks I must be doing a very convincing impersonation of an injured seal. The entire time I am ‘surfing’ the Jaws music is playing loudly in my head. I mistake the shadow of my board for a 7 foot Great White with worrying regularity.
Occasionally I will get into a position somewhere between crouching and stooping, I’ll be in that most inelegant of positions for anywhere between 0.1 and 0.9 seconds but in that moment and in my eyes, I am a bona fide surf dude who loves to surf. There is something about being in the water that will keep me coming back for more punishment; surfing is good for the soul, if not the ego.
Did you go through a stage of wanting to be a Surfer?