I’ve watched numerous videos on proper “stand-up” technique. Quite honestly, it doesn’t seem so difficult.
Soon, this surf virgin will arrive on the West Coast and begin my surf(ing?) journey. While I have no pie-in-the-sky aspirations or hopes for saltwater greatness, I’m not foolish enough to think I can step into a foreign sport without getting my mind and body right first.
Though the aspens have turned yellow and there’s snow falling here in the high country, I’ve been putting serious effort into properly preparing myself for the Pacific.
Like any serious athlete, my first focus was mental.
I needed to begin to think and feel like a real surfer. Though I’m in the mountains, I had to find a way to sink my subconscious into the ocean. A difficult task one might assume, but not with the assistance of modern technology.
I blast Dick Dale albums on my bluetooth headphones and kick my shopping cart up to speed in the produce section of the grocery store. Then I place both feet on the rail between the back wheels, and effortlessly glide through a rolling sea of tomatoes, onions and autumnal squash.
Late at night, when I wrap myself snug as a bug in bed, I float to sleep on the soothing tones of Iz’s rendition of ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’, and see nothing but tasty waves in my dreams.
The new soundtrack of my surf virgin life has been helpful, but I’ve always been more of a visual learner. So, I dove into YouTube too. A few Kelly Slater interviews, a quick scroll-through of the Quiksilver channel, and various Pipe Master competition recaps from years past.
After a few hours of highlights though, I grew rather fatigued, and had to change it up to stay engaged. I rented Blue Crush on a friend’s Amazon account, forgot to pay her back, watched it all the way through, and didn’t stop to masturbate once. Total focus.
Next, was physical preparation.
I purchased a bulk order of Laird Hamilton’s coffee creamer. I start each morning with two scoops blended into a mug of Folger’s and have seriously adjusted my food intake.
You are what you eat.
I now consume a steady diet of fish & chips from the local distillery, WalMart California rolls and $5 shrimp cocktail platters that come in those cute little plastic trays that look like Jell-O molds.
While a nutritionist friend in New York has expressed concern over the possibility of mercury poisoning, and my mother regularly reminds me that Colorado is a landlocked state, I have faith that the sphincter-splitting diarrhea will pass. My body just needs a period of adjustment.
In due time, I’ll stop urinating out of my rear-end and likely sprout gills.
Next was familiarizing myself with proper form, and conditioning my body to execute the necessary maneuvers.
Though the whole paddling part seems rather strenuous and my cardio isn’t great, I’ve decided to trust my gut and skip any serious preparation in that aspect.
While I’m no physical specimen at the moment, this surf virgin is the son of a Cuban immigrant– a child of the ocean. Thousands of my people have literally swam from one country to another. The combination of my genetic luck and strict nutrition plan pretty much makes me a fish.
However, you rarely see fish on two feet. So, I’ve watched numerous videos on proper “stand-up” technique. Quite honestly, it doesn’t seem so difficult. With help from a few YouTube tutorials, I’ve broken down the whole process into three very manageable steps.
First is propping yourself up on your hands and pressing your pelvis down. Easy. My dog assumes the same position on my favorite pillow anytime a lady pooch in the neighborhood goes into heat. And I’ve done plenty of humpin’ in my day. All the necessary muscles and tendons are already loose and limber. Check!
Second? Stand up. That’s it. Just stand up. I do that every morning when I wake up, pal. Skip.
And finally, step three– balance.
This presented a bit of a challenge, but I quickly devised an adequate training solution.
At the local park, I rose to my feet in the middle of a teeter-totter, until I could keep it level, with both ends off the ground, for more than ten seconds. However, I found myself a bit bored after mastering that, so to keep things interesting and my fast-twitch muscles firing, I stole an absent-minded kid’s scooter before heading home. I try to ride it down the steep driveway with no hands four or five times a day.
Boom. Done. A thousand miles from the ocean, but ready to stand up and ride.
Lastly, and most importantly, a surf virgin must look the part. Presentation is everything. Look good, play good.
I was gifted shit genetics from the males on the less aquatic side of my family. Unfortunately, I have a hairline that’s receding at a frightening rate. I won’t have the requisite lettuce on my head when I slide my board into the water for the first time.
I’d like to pay for one of those hair transplant procedures and one day really feel what it’s like to shake out my salt-kissed locks under the sun. But unless BeachGrit raises their freelancing rate, I’ve got a better chance of riding one of those real scary-looking waves off the coast of Nazare.
The rest of my appearance I can control though.
I plan to donate my Carhartt shirts and flannel jackets to the local Goodwill upon arriving on the West Coast, and replace them with t-shirt’s from that Mr. Zogg fella. Sex Wax! How cool, beachy and fun!
Oooh, and maybe I’ll get a pair of those cute Reef sandals with the convenient bottle opener on the bottom. You know, for cervezas after a day out and paddling about in the salty stuff with my pals.
I’ve also been practicing my shaka in the mirror, though I never take my shirt off. My ex-girlfriend recently poked fun at my paleness and said I need to start figuring out a way to get a real base.
Otherwise, if I’m the guy in a sun shirt at the beach, I risk mockery from the locals– like the fat kid wearing a cotton t-shirt while flapping around the shallow end at the end-of-school-year pool party.
But SPF 30 is the lowest I can go without risking sun poisoning. Not a problem. I originally hail from New Jersey, the land of the spray tan. I don’t fear any artificial coloring of the skin.
Whatever it takes to blend in, this surf virgin will do.
I’m dutifully preparing, and I truly think I’m ready, but I’m also doing my best to keep expectations in check.
The last time I was this excited to pop a cherry, I left the captain of the cheerleading squad rather disappointed and had to sneak out of my mother’s house in the middle of the night to dispose of an entire set of sheets.
(Read Adrian’s debut story here, “I’ve never surfed before but I think I probably should!” here.)