Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Not a girl anymore

It was foggy out today, and by the time I got close enough to assess the waves, I could see they were bigger than they had looked either from my window or on the cam. Still, there were a few people out and they looked happy. So I decided to go.

This was not a day it was exactly going to be easy to get out. It's been quite a while since I had to as much as turtle dive, and I was having a hard time getting my head and body around that fact. Yes, we do get spoiled, or lazy, when we can usually pretty much walk out.

As I was paddling out, I noticed there was quite a fierce drift, which always seems to happen when it's foggy for some reason.

It was on a day like this that I smashed my board up on the wooden jetty spikes.

Next thing I knew, I was on top of those spikes. Oh shit; and worse, what every local surfer dreads, my leash had gotten wrapped around one. I was stuck.

OK, it's happened, I'm stuck; what now? First thing, get myself unstuck. But I couldn't reach down and unwrap the leash from the spike with the waves coming at me; I had to get the leash off my ankle. That would've been easy but for the lobster gloves.

Get the glove off, OK. Let the glove go, it's only a glove. But then I couldn't immediately find the tab on the leash. The waves were coming at me without respite. I was still where I could stand up, though I couldn't really move. By the time the waves got to me they were whitewater but still pretty powerful. Powerful enough to knock me over if I didn't watch them carefully. They did a couple of times, and I got mouthfuls of water, and then there wasn't much time until the next one came.

OK, but I wasn't going to drown. The only real danger was that I might panic. And it's hard not to panic when you're tied to a sharp wooden spike with waves coming at you. I could have gotten struck by my board, or thrown by the waves onto the spikes.

I remembered that last summer a woman surfer had gotten her leash stuck on the jetty, and when she told the story later to everybody she called it a near drowning. I will come back to this woman's story shortly, because it's important.

Nevertheless I managed to calm myself down enough to get the leash off, then take a few steps to shore to catch my breath.

There was my board, my only board, my $950 board, doing somersaults on the waves, about to be broken in half again or worse, shredded to bits beyond repair.

My first thought was to get back out there to the board, take the leash off and bring it in. But it seemed whenever I got close it was pulled away by the waves. Once I did get close, I would have to be very, very careful not to impale myself on the jetty or get hit in the head by the board. Was it worth getting hurt, to save my board?

It wasn't working. I took a break on shore and contemplated my options. Wait until low tide when it would be easier? That would be eight hours, the board would be toast by then. The only reason it wasn't yet, was that it was high tide.

Would it be easier to get out with a board? Could someone with a board help me?

Then I see this guy, the one I haven't ever given a name or initial on this blog, someone who's been exceptionally patient and helpful to me the couple of times I've seen him. He doesn't at first realize what's wrong, not until I point out my riderless board bobbing in the waves.

I have to get it, I say.

You can do that, he says. Get a knife to cut the leash. Or keep diving under the waves until you are able to get the leash off.

He's right, but I must have looked skeptical. I'm thinking about how to do this without getting slashed by a fin or a spike.

He's ready to move on, duty done, but then he doesn't.

Are you asking me for to help you? he says.

Yes, I say.

He looks at me for a minute. I think, he doesn't want to, he wants to go. Then he says, OK, I will. Because you're a girl.

Because I'm a girl?

That makes me feel stupid and incapable, but I will take it, because I want my board. I need my board. I can't afford to buy another one. And I'm too glad to be unscathed to want to go back out there. I did panic for a minute, and now I've got that chemical reaction that comes when you're done panicking.

He goes out. It takes him a few tries, maybe ten minutes. I feel stupid just standing there watching his board, I should be doing something, helping somehow. The board keeps floating away, but he finally gets it. He gets on top of it so it doesn't float away again, then he gets the leash off and rides it in.

Thank you, thank you, I say, I owe you, but he's not interested. He says he's tired. I tired him out. He has to go. He seems to be pretty disgusted. I feel I need to apologize for asking his help. I'm pretty sure he's fed up and is not going to be helpful again. After all, I could've gotten the board myself. I really could have.

Why didn't I?

Because I'm a girl?

But of course I'm not, wasn't that the point he was making?

I'm not a girl, in any sense of the word, so why should I ask for help and why should he give it? It was like I was asking for something to which I wasn't entitled.

How different it would have been were I twenty-something.

Flash back to the story of the other woman who got her leash wrapped around the spikes.

She is about 28, very slim and very pretty, a good surfer and very popular.

She panicked and thought she was drowning. She signalled for help and a young male surfer came to her rescue.

I bet she didn't think twice about asking for help and he didn't think twice about rescuing her, and afterwards the story was told over and over and she was the damsel in distress and he was the hero. Good warm fuzzy feelings all around. Could she have managed to have gotten herself unstuck? Yeah, probably, I bet. Did anyone suggest that she should have rescued herself? No.

She was helped in part, and he was glad to help, because she was a girl. A young, beautiful girl.

And young, beautiful girls learn that we can get help when we need it, or even when we don't, because we are young and hot. That's just the way it is. (I was young once too, and though never beautiful, it's just a fact that I also was, in my 20s, hot.)

There's a way in which we come to feel entitled to help, even when we're strong and perfectly capable of taking care of ourselves.

As I was today, I now think. So why didn't I do it?

It's a real shock to your self image when you realize you're no longer entitled, no longer special, even if you never wanted to be, nor asked for it, and even when you generally take pride in being strong and self sufficient (in short, like a guy).

I guess we want the help to be there even if we don't need it. Or we're so used to it, we miss it when it's gone. It's like being called Ma'am for the first time; you know you've forever lost something you didn't choose but didn't want to lose.

At that point, you'd better have your guy side together. Because you're no girl anymore.

It shouldn't bother me, it doesn't bother me...it does.

Did you see the last episode of Desperate Housewives? Yeah, I watch it. The four sexy housewives, all of them on the right side of 40, are taking a drive, along with their scarily old and wrinkled--60ish? 70ish?---female neighbor. She looks like every woman's worst nightmare of what she is going to look like when she is old. The car gets a flat tire. What now? "Who knows how to change a tire?" asks one of the beautiful housewives.

You know what happens next. The only one who's capable of changing a tire is the old woman. She gets out and does what needs to be done. Funny, right? Funny-true.

Moral: If you're not young and hot, you better be able to change your own tire or save your own ass/surfboard.

PS: Neither me nor my surfboard has as much as a scratch on us, I am happy to say.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

POOP, no, shit, no, crap

Today was my first time in the water in nearly a month. At first I thought I had completely forgotten how to surf, which would be only natural after such a long hiatus, and thought I was doomed to have a POOP (pathetically out of practice) session. But it only took about fifteen minutes of adjusting to today's waves before I was poop no longer.

After that I got lots of waves and lots of rides all the way to the beach, no problem. I stayed out of the way of the bearlike man (BM) next to me. It felt glorious to be in the ocean again and to swallow saltwater; saltwater, heavens it's tasty (SHIT).

And waiting for waves, I had lots of leisure to consider the landscape all around me, with unsold and unfinished condominiums on nearly every corner. Condos really are pollution (CRAP)!

That's all for today.