Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Back in the Groove

Surfing. It's like riding a bike - you never forget.

Yeah, well, I saw my 17-year old cousin get back on a bike after 4 years of being driven everywhere by her parents, and while she could technically ride the thing, it wasn't pretty.

That's how my last three sessions - my first back-to-back-to-back paddles since probably April - have been. Technically I can paddle out, catch waves, stand up and ride them. But after three months of meetings, conference calls, hotel rooms, room service, and countless hours stuffed in American Eagle commuter jets (even in seat 11A, which is the money seat), I'm a shadow of even the not-so-impressive-surfer I was last Spring.

Like Phil Lynott used to sing (Irish half-black lead singer for Thin Lizzy, with an afro, mustache and a single dangling earring...pure 70's style, cool as shit), I'm fighting my way back. But it's ugly.

You can gauge how ugly by just how quickly your style deteriorates. Surfers love to talk about style and who's got it and who doesn't, but one thing they never talk about it is how a good style requires a fairly high level of fitness.

Case in point: I've always prided myself on the fact that, while I'm no shredder, I don't flail and I don't flap. I paddle smooth, with wide, clean strokes, keep my feet together (or up, crossed in an X), and try to stay low, knees bent, when I'm up.

But after getting caught inside yesterday for 10 minutes on my log, I noticed something once I finally got back out. My legs wanted to separate and dangle off the sides of the tail, my hands kept slapping the surface as I paddled, and while I couldn't see it, I knew my face was beet-red. The antithesis of style and MO of every newbie kook in the water.

That's when I realized - style isn't just some genetic talent for looking good - like high cheekbones or great hair. It's a learned ability that takes significant physical exertion.

The human body wants to slouch. It wants to spread its legs and dangle them off the sides, because that's what gravity wants. It wants to semi-dog paddle with 90 degree bent elbows because that requires the least effort. It wants to bend at the waist. It wants to fall backwards off the tail instead of grabbing the rails and doing the stylish belly flop. And it wants to ditch the board and swim under instead of pushing a six foot flotation device underwater like some sort of extreme pushup.

To be stylish, you gotta be in shape.

Anyhow, so that's the plan over the next few months - get back in shape and put some style back in my surf. Trade the Admiral's Club card for a couple of new boards and some WD-40 on the bike chain. No more steak and martinis at the Brazen Head. Instead, fruit and veggies from the farmer's market. Bottom line: less Homer, more Laird (okay, I'll take Mick Lowe at this point, but a man's gotta have dreams), less cockroach-style, more soul carves.

Speaking of soul carves, I picked up a copy of Sprout yesterday (along with some Solarez, which is another story). I missed it when it played in HB, which happens a lot when you have two little kids, but had heard it was good. Plus, Ray Barbee, skater and musician and a friend of a friend, contributes a few songs to the soundtrack, which I also heard was good. Anyhow, right on both counts. Great flick, great soundtrack. It deserves a more in-depth review than that, but maybe tomorrow.

I'm tired and there's a swell picking up tonight.

The Colonel says, "Stylishly at ease."