It's the dumb quirks that bind us together…
The diversity! Everyone surfs, or at least, talks about it.
From the televisions that adorn our living rooms walls to highway billboards and shrieking cinema advertising, it’s surf, surf, surf!
But there’s a surfer and there’s a surfer. There’s the once-a-monther with his polished log that he carefully straps onto the roof of his SUV, who covers his nudity with a poncho, has bottled water in the back of his whip to remove sand, who wouldn’t know a Filipe Toledo from a Julian Wilson, and then there’s, I’m guessing, people like you and me.
We live for the minutiae of a sport that, realistically, consists of 10 five-second rides per two-hour session. But, still, we adore the tour, the often pointless changes in board design, the fads, the names, the kings and the queens.
And, therefore, let me list, below, the five characteristics of the modern surfer.
1. We hold our breath at work
Lately, every big-wave surfer, and even some small-wavers like Kolohe Andino who are currently climbing the rungs of credibility in juice, have taken to apnea training. Breath holding. Deliberately giving yourself the shakes just so you can stay underwater a little longer, therefore making you able to survive, I don’t know, 10-foot Cloudbreak? One tip the best free-divers will give you is to practise breath-holding at your work desk. I know half-a-dozen surfers who’ll practise it half-a-dozen times in a morning. A couple have even woken up at their desk having tripped the wire of consciousness.
2. We care about the sponsorship deals of millionaire athletes
Just recently, I finished working in an office where for hours, over years, everyone discussed, gravely, pro surfer sponsorships. Was the surfer under discussion being paid enough, we wondered? How would they make it last into their dotage?
I remember the concerned shaking of heads when Bobby Martinez stopped getting stickers and 50-grand a month cheques and the hesitation when we learned Quiksilver wouldn’t be resigning Kelly, whose property portfolio spans the globe.
Did it matter that the surfers made more in two weeks that most of the office made in a year or that our own situations were far more perilous than there’s would ever be?
3. We own too many boards
What other sport requires only a sturdy pair of legs, some kind of modesty protection and a $700 piece of equipment? And so we buy too many of ’em. And it defines us and it defines us to the non-surfers who swing into our houses and say things like, “You really do have a lot of surfboards.”
4. Our optimism is organic
Why wouldn’t it be? One clean turn, one in-and-out head-dip and there isn’t a problem in the world that can’t be stomped on. Meditation, yoga, therapy, it don’t even come close.
5. We don’t do “inland.”
Whether it’s international travel or setting up a crib, we never, ever, budge from our coastline perches. Yeah, it retards our cultural experiences. Yeah, we miss a lot of terribly exciting things.
But in a life that might be 25,000 days, if we’re lucky, who’s got the time to traipse the Macchu Pichu trail?