Monday, August 16, 2004

The Local, The Legend, & The Little Brats Who Rip

Part II of Fear and Loathing in Bali is actually almost finished, but I thought I should post some recent random ramblings before the memories fade like the tan on my feet every Fall.

Today a decent swell finally rolled in. By the time I left the beach at about sunset, there were some solid head-high, almost overhead sets rolling in. Wind wasn't bad either. Second day in a row we've had an almost evening glassoff.

The amazing thing though was the after-work crowd. When I paddled out at 5 PM it was fairly uncrowded - maybe 5-10 guys per 50 feet. By the time I paddled in, it was wall-to-wall. I mean it was PACKED. And as I unlocked my bike, with the sun setting, there must have been 15-20 guys on the beach about to paddle out.

Here's to making your own schedule.

Saturday afternoon I had what might have been the most dangerous surf of my life. It was sunny, warm, not too windy, low tide, and the waves were about knee to waist high. Oh, and there were about fifty million people playing in the water.

See, the waves were breaking in about waist to chest-high water and, thanks to the low tide, about 20 feet from the beach.

So on every wave, you were literally doing a slalom through teenage girls (all squealing and huddling in little groups) and groups of 19 year-old boys (also squealing and huddling in little groups, although mostly in an attempt to tackle one another and shotgun footballs and each other's foreheads).

Toss in heaps of fat Mexican children, fat American children, and, hell, just pods of fat people in general, all bathing in the not-so-mellow impact zone, and you have one recipe for disaster (hey fat people, "recipe" is just a metaphor...I'm not actually cooking anything, so go away).

I actually lost count of the number of people I almost hit. On only one wave though did I lose my board - my 6'2" HIC fish, with no leash - and it landed on some teenage kid's head. He thought it was really funny though, laughing as he stood in the water with my board perched on his head like some kind of hat. Then it fell off and got washed all the way in and he thought that was even funnier.

Punk. Sorry about the noggin though.

Sunday though was probably the worst day of surf I've had in a while, and yet it probably had the most interesting moment.

7 PM or so. Starting to get dark. It's tiny and high tide and there's just very little going on out in the water. Painful wait between sets. It gets so bad that I did what I almost never do in the summer, and that's paddle over to the pier.

The only notable locals in the water at the time were the John Whitmore lookalike and two obnoxious high school kids who rip, weigh about 95 pounds, whistle at everyone in the water when they paddle for a wave, have no fear of anyone, and are the main reason I don't surf the pier.

So I'm sitting there, and the John Whitmore lookalike (remember him? the South African guy with the goatee from the Endless Summer?) just, out the blue, goes, "Yeah, PT!"

I look behind me and there's PT...also known as Peter Townend, first ever modern World Champ, longtime surf commentator on TV, and current president of Surfing America, the governing body of competitive surfing in the US (to which ASP North America, the NSSA, the ESA, and others all report into).

He's also an HB local, but this is the first time I've ever seen him in the water. To me he's just a legend. And right now he's a legend in pink trunks, on a pink board, sitting in oily green water, scrapping for mushy, knee-high crap waves with me, the two brats, and John Whitmore, who surfs the pier, like, every fucking day, all day.

Disability, unemployed, trust fund (doubtful)...all I know is that I don't think I've ever paddled out anywhere near the pier, in 13 months, and not seen him.

So he goes, "Yeah, PT!"

PT smiles and goes, "What's going on?"

Old man Whitmore replies, "Not a thing, man...not a thing."

Okay, so I'm thinking the local has made his verbal connection with the legend and hopefully I don't have to listen to some awkward conversation on top of being cold and waiting for a set that seems unlikely to ever arrive, and even if it does arrive I'm going to get whistled at by the two brats.

So please, no awkward conversation. No local guy trying to make everyone think he knows the legend. And no legend humoring waterlogged old local with forced smiles and lots of, "Right on, man" middle-aged bro-isms.

No such luck.

Local (trying to call himself out as key local figure): So, uh, PT...you, uh, ever need any help with, uh, those contests you're putting on...give me a call.

Legend (clearly doesn't know this local and isn't going to let him ramble on with nonsensical offers to help, Da Hui style): Uh, what contests are those?

Local: You know, those contests and stuff you put on, like, for the kids and stuff. We usually handle all that stuff and, so, uh, let me know and we'll, uh, help out and stuff.

Legend (calling local's bluff and clearly not interested): I'm not sure what you're talking about. I don't really do that anymore.

Local (bluff officially called): Well, you just say the word and we'll be there.

Legend: Where?

Local: Wherever you need us, man...wherever you need us.

I actually cringed, and then started laughing right there in the water. I laughed into my hands and hopefully John Whitmore didn't see or hear me. PT will be off on another surf adventure and I'll still be stuck in HB slop with this guy.

Just then a set...if you can call it that...came through. I paddled into the little peak right by the pier, and got whistled at by the smaller of the two brats - the one who looks exactly like the little brother in Growing Pains. He didn't make the section and I ended up taking the next wave, a mushy, crappy little left.

Ben Seaver - 1
Me - 0

Still though, the whistling brats were easily worth the price of admission to overhear that conversation between the local and the legend in pink trunks.

Local - o
Legend - 1

The Colonel says, "At ease."