Monday, June 16, 2008

...And Salt Creek Was Wiped From The Earth

Fuck.

Fuckin' fuckity fuck fuck. What the FUCK am I doing here???

That's what the Colonel says to himself quite often when lugging his fat ass out of the water at Salt Creek.

Ah, Salt Creek...AKA, The Playground, The Zoo, The Pickle Family Circus, Detention, 8th Period, Jail Bait Beach, and, my personal favorite:

The-Most-Frustrating-Goat-Rope-Of-A-Surf-Spot-In-All-Of-Orange-County

WHY? Why do I keep going there?

Stupid question. I know why.

It's 5 minutes from my office. The location is beautiful. The water makes Waikiki look like Huntington Beach after a flood and during a red tide. The parking is plentiful and easy. It stays glassy all day. And it's a ridiculously fun wave - rippable with tubes.

But the drawbacks...oh lord, the drawbacks. Three of the worst drawbacks you can imagine:

1. Crowded. 2. Crowded. 3. Crowded.

But not just crowded...every spot around here is crowded..it's the WHO (not the HOW MANY). Quick demographic breakdown for the unfamiliar:

If you're under the age of 19 and compete in the NSSA, you surf Salt Creek every day.

If you attend high school within 100 miles, you surf Salt Creek every day.

If you attend junior high school within 100 miles, your mom drops you off so you can surf Salt Creek every day.

If you ride a boogie board and live south of Marin County and west of Coors Field, you drag your nuts at Salt Creek every day.

If you know a guy who knows a guy who knew a guy who once talked to Pat O'Connell in line at Wahoo's Fish Taco, you surf Salt Creek every day.

If you ARE Pat O'Connell, you surf Salt Creek every day.

If you are a grumpy old fuck on a giant board who is unfazed by air-boosting preteens and still think Salt Creek is some kind of secret spot, you surf Salt Creek every day.

If you are a Japanese trust-funder with enough photos of Lowers to fill a half dozen Hello Kitty shoeboxes, you now surf Salt Creek every day.

And that's just the WHO. Should I even get started on the HOW?

Today I paddled for a nice little left, inside of a 16 year-old blonde boy with giant buck teeth (possibly a Gudaskas? Dunno. Hard to keep track. They're kind of the Menudo of surfing) He promptly dropped in going right and as soon as I pulled back, re-directed left. It was the oldest trick in the book and he had it polished to perfection. Such ease. Such grace. Such laughter by his buddies as I sat on my board looking vaguely confused and retarded.

But that's Salt Creek, where you will...fairly often...feel confused and retarded.

The problem is that once in a while you will get Salt Creek GOOD and UNCROWDED.

You'll show up on some random Tuesday. The sun will be shining. It won't be blackballed. There will be peaks stringing the entire length of the beach. Pat will be off filming Drive-Thru-Somalia. Pat's entourage will be at home, re-framing their highlighted Winner's Circle tearouts from 1987. Grumpy guy will be camped out at the Point. It'll just be you, some drywaller from Laguna Niguel, a Japanese boogie boarder, and a crazy bodysurfing meth addict with a McDonald's tray.

You'll catch peak after peak. You'll go left and get barreled. You'll go right and get as vertical as your mediocre talent will allow you. You'll do four to the shore. You'll walk up to the showers past the entire cast of The Hills, convinced that Salt Creek is the greatest surf spot on God's Blue Earth.

But it's all just a set up. The car's a lemon. That chick is just messing with you. It's really a real-estate seminar.

Just like that, WHAM! The beach gets blackballed right as team Hurleybong paddles out. Now instead of 30 guys sharing 5 peaks, you've got 50 guys jockeying for 2 peaks. 48 of them rip. One is Ringo on a longboard, "just happy to be here, lads." And one is you. Bucky drops right and then goes left. Your 6'2" suddenly feels 4'2".

You are going to catch FUCK ALL while tails and fins go flying all around. Team NSSA will literally be paddling circles around you. The 1987 Winner's Circle boys will be showering you with 250 pound fish carves. Pat will smile and say hi...because he's nice...and let you watch him get the best wave of every set.

And you will limp in like the confused retard that you are. You will coil up you leash and want to stick it between your legs because that's where your tail would be if you had one.

You'll trudge past the girls from The Hills and realize they were laughing at you all along.

The elementary school kids will heckle you at the showers. Their mom will give you that, "Rough day, hon?" half smile even though she knows you're really a homeless pedophile with a van and a bag full of candy and puppies.

And as you plod up the hill, you'll look back over your shoulder and swear that you'll never surf in this fucking circus tent ever again.

But you will.

The Colonel says, "At ease."