picture by IceNineJohnLast Saturday morning, I went surfing at the famous San Onofre Beach. I donned a rented wetsuit, very much like the one in the picture above, except that it was loose in the chest and arms and had bright blue running down the middle. I held my surfboard too--with both hands--and hobbled along the beach without falling over. Good thing I was with three other first time surfers, one of whom wore a bright red and purple wetsuit designed for scuba diving (hi martha!).
Ah surfing, how shall I write about thee? Paddle paddle paddle. Keep your head above water. PADDLE! KEEP PADDLING! Keep your head up! Oh you fell off? Good, better now than later. Keep paddling. Your arms are tired? Count--1, 2, 3, 4. This is exercise. C'mon. Keep paddling, over here, to the right where the waves are breaking and where the rest of the surfers in the know are.
That's my surf instructor Jeff talking.
This is me.
Um, Jeff? How come even sitting on my surfboard is hard? I keep falling off. I can't even balance sitting down. My arms are sooo tired...keep going Hanna (I revert to talking to myself in the third person). Paddle, must keep paddling. Must keep doing cobra pose and keep my head up. The temptation to lie down on this board and nap is so great...gurgle gurgle gurgle...saltyyyyy.
Surfing is about having buff arms, shoulders, neck and back. It's about being able to do cobra pose for an indefinite amount of time while paddling with your arms in choppy water. Knowing yoga helped.
Jeff was a great instructor. He gathered up surfboards from his friends so that we would all have one to use. He brought us a collection of wetsuits so that we could save money and not have to rent unless it didn't fit. He was patient, kind, funny, altogether groovy.
I caught a couple of waves but chickened out of standing up (Ah, but riding the waves just lying on my stomach was so much fun!).
Hmm, what else did I do?
Oh, there was that one slashing incident.
The slashing of Jeff's tush.
Jeff, the surf instructor?
You slashed your surf instructor's butt cheek?
Oh my gosh, yes.
I will never live this down.
My biggest fear with surfing was that my surfboard fins were going to slice someone open. I may have media reports mixed up but I have this vague memory of hearing news about kids dying from riding their surfboard into someone's head.
Well, I ran it over Jeff's bum as he was trying to help the Rev'd Martha catch a wave. I was so excited about catching another wave until I realized in horror that I was headed directly for Martha and Jeff. I almost ran over the priest and scared the sh*t out of her because I was screaming my head off. I had no idea where Jeff went.
Waves are crashing, my wet hair is sticking to my face. I'm clinging to my surfboard. My screams are still ringing in my ear. Jeff finally bobs up.
"Ugh," he groans. "I think your fin sliced my tush."
As he hoists himself onto his board again, I see the glimmer of an unmistakable slash running across the left cheek of his wetsuit. I am mortified and get a mucho serious case of the giggles.
Have you ever harmed someone in such a funny way that you're both mortified and insanely tickled at the same time? I started gurgling into the seawater again because I could barely keep my head up I was laughing so hard and embarassed and trying desperately to paddle away.
When Jeff came up to shore, he said in front of the whole group, "Hey Hanna, I think you actually sliced my wetsuit!"
(Um, yeah Jeff, I saw that but didn't really feel like pointing it out)
We could see his butt. There was a 7 inch gash and a hole the size of a quarter in the middle of it. The whole area was ringed in red and I thought he was bleeding. He told us the inside of the wetsuit was red and it wasn't blood. Thank God.
While I was mortified, Jeff thought it was the funniest thing in the world. He kept strutting around, shaking his head, and saying, "Hanna, I can't believe you sliced my butt. I guess I'll have to get a new wetsuit."