Tuesday, September 07, 2004

School is IN

Today is a great day.

I used to dread the day after Labor Day...the end of Summer. I hated that pointless "3 day weekend", which means nothing to a kid on summer vacation. 3 days, 4 days, who give a shit? I'm on SUMMER VACATION. All Labor Day meant was that school started the next day.

If you even said the words, "Labor Day" to me in mid-January, I'd still get an instant knot in my stomach. It had that much baggage. The end of summer...the single worst day of the entire year, eclipsing even dentist appointments, shots, church, and visits to the old-folks home.

School. Ugh. It meant so many things...

Shorter days (sickening act of nature, with the end of Daylight Savings time a man-made extra kick in the balls).

Colder weather (OP cords disappearing like leaves on the trees).

Class pictures (the schoolyard covered in black plastic combs afterwards).

Homework (always started out easy, then WHAM!, bibliography time).

Soccer practice (twice a week).

Brand new corduroy pants (stiff as a board).

No more movies on weeknights. No more sleepovers. No more camping. No more day games at the 'Stick. No more beach. No more family vacations and $2 souvenirs. No more running loose, all day, every day, for 3 months.

Which is exactly why I love it now.

One day I'm sharing waist-high, blownout slop with every 6-18 year-old shredder and kook in Southern California, and the next, I've got a shoulder-high peak to myself, it's 85 degrees and glassy, and my bike is the only one in the rack.

And see, that's the cruelest part of the whole deal for kids. Because, see, it's STILL SUMMER. The weather is still hot, the days are still long, and yet kids are locked away from 8-3, five days a week.



(I've been through it...13 years of forced education...5 years of voluntary...so I get to laugh now, see, I've EARNED that right.)

However, it's not all empty lineups and Santa Ana winds. With the power of Fall comes certain pitfalls. And I've got enough adult years under my belt to have learned a few things about surfing in the Fall, especially in a youth-dominated town like HB.

Allow me to share some of the basics...

1. Avoid the dawn patrol like the lineup was populated with fire-breathing sharks. Seriously. Every grom in HB seems to have their Krusty the Klown alarm clock set to "Sesh Before School" (and now that the let-it-be 70's look has completely infiltrated American youth fashion, they don't even need that extra 30 minutes to smear goop in their hair or peg their pants). Combine 300 groms with the pre-work crowd and you have HELL ON EARTH...at least near the pier, until 9 AM.

2. Remember in Better Off Dead when Lane Meyer is being chased by the paperboy, and is suddenly surrounded by like a hundred paperboys, all demanding their two dollars? That's what happens in HB at 3 PM. Get out of the water. Run. Run for your fucking life or find yourself surrounded by a hundred John-John Florences. Like Chief Brody said, "GET OUT OF THE WATER".

3. Learn the school schedule. Granted, there are like a million schools in the area, but get a basic feel for MINIMUM DAYS (you'll know it's one of them when, at 1 PM, you suddenly find yourself the only person in the water over 150 pounds), STAFF DEVELOPMENT DAYS (you'll know those by the two groms who cut you off and crash into each other at 11 AM), and FUCKING RIDICULOUS HOLIDAYS you haven't celebrated since you were in school and have since forgotten since no non-governmental employer has EVER given anyone the day off since their inception. These include COLUMBUS DAY, MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. DAY, ARBOR DAY, BANK HOLIDAYS, NATIONAL TALK LIKE A PIRATE DAY, and God knows what else.

So, tomorrow is Wednesday. No minimum day. No staff development (they've been "developing" for the last 3 months). No holiday...except for maybe National Admin & Excel Spreadsheet Day (which, I don't think even the staff at the Long Beach VA gets off). Just hot weather, warm water, glassy conditions, and a little leftover swell from the weekend. Perfect for trunks, a longboard, no leash...and a flexible work schedule.

Do it.

You sat at a desk all summer. You dug ditches. You went on sales calls at 1 PM in Riverside to see some asshole who just wanted another quote so he could tell his boss he shopped around, and then hook his cousin up. You spent what used to be the best part of your life WORKING. No summer vacation. WORK.

Do it.

Take a long lunch. Call in sick. Make an "appointment" with some client. Go in early, leave even earlier. Put "On a conference call" on your Instant Messenger status (don't forget to turn off the idle mode).

Do it.

School is in. Time to go surf.

The Colonel says, "Here's to year-round schooling."