Thursday, September 25, 2008

In the lineup.

The first couple mornings of surfing were like no other I've experienced.

A procession of pristine green swells roll through the bay at measured internals. I’ve never seen such an over-abundance of perfect waves or better riders.

My favorite riders are the old ones. They’re each withered, white-haired and perfect candidates for languishing in idle retirement – but instead they dance on waves with an energy and grace that could only result from decades of practice. Shrill laughs, jokes, and loud submarine-style “aah-ohhh-gaww” cheer anyone on a wave. I’m surfing amongst 60’s surf legends and they’re making submarine calls with every wave they catch?! It’s ridiculous and refreshing. Before leaving town, my bro and sis, Axel, and Anya, had told us some colorful stories about them. Now to see them in person is like seeing a favorite cartoon brought to life. Corky Carroll, with a tuft of hair and bulbous balloon navel (the result of some old-age deficiency) pulls his red rash guard up to his neck in defiance. He surfs the biggest wave yet, with complete comfort. Tim Dorsey, follows suit in a speedo. A woman, with white-blonde hair that radiates against her leathery brown tan, rides a flowered board that matches her husband’s and catches waves that make them holler even more. They yell that she looks like Ms. Venture County 1968. She smiles slides down the wave, red toenails tapping down the board to the dangle over the nose.

They don’t let anything stop them – nature, age, youth, or otherwise. It’s like finding out that, all this time, Peter Pan’s vacation home is in Mexico. While the bodies are old, there’s a youthful spirit, goodwill, and positive energy to the group, that is unlike any other and it’s contagious.(It strengthens my resolve to surf till I die, even if I never get past mediocre.) Everyone in the lineup, walking on the beach, drinking Corona from sweating glass bottles from enramadas are some of the friendliest we’ve met. It’s the aloha spirit of the 60’s, says the most talkative of the bunch, You don’t find that around anymore, but in special places. We keep it alive here.

He’s pleased that we appreciate it. He rattles off stories of building beach houses, surfing at Middleton when it meant dodging military police to catch the perfect wave, the broken neck and Vietnam, ancient southwest narratives, and the book he’s going to write.

Later that night, we see Dorsey, walking the beach at sunset in only a navy blue Speedo and straw hat. He’s followed by a pack of neighborhood dogs of all shapes and sizes, all panting and jumpy, joyfully clamoring for his attention. He talks to them lovingly as he herds them along. He throws a stick and 5 or 6 dogs tumble into the surf after it. As he walks towards his beachside casita with a couple resident goats complacently chewing the front vegetation, he honks the rubber horn (“ahh-oohh-gaww”) on the top of his straw hat, as the happy hounds chase after him.

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