Wednesday, April 14, 2010

You are not as good as you think you are

Amy and I have been keeping at surfing since we got here, each making marginal improvements. We are now able to catch waves and stand up pretty regularly - a large feat for novices such as ourselves. So anyways, this has me feeling pretty good about my progress, even though 10 year olds regularly catch bigger waves than me and stare with contempt and pity as I drag my gigantic board down the beach. Point is, I'm feeling pretty good about where I'm at. As things generally go, this is the perfect time for a reality check, which happened earlier today.

I was out surfing solo (Amy being at work, or some other nonsense) when I hear the sharp report of the lifeguard's whistle. I look around and he is pointing at what can only be me and waving for me to come in to him. It appears that he would like to have a word with me. Now, I have seen this happen many times before and this generally occurs when a surfer, kayaker, etc strays too close to the swimming area, which is clearly marked out and separated from the surfcraft area of the beach. Usually it involves the surfer getting yelled at for violating this clearly delineated area and having to sulk down the beach. It is one of the few things that the lifeguards actually do during the day, and they appear to enjoy it.

I paddle my way in, devising various desperate excuses and elaborate lies about my poor eyesight and sense of direction, mighty Neptune's grudge against me, and so on.

Before I can even begin to explain away my transgression, the lifeguard, who is tanned beyond bronze, has bleached blond hair and looks exactly like he has done nothing for the past 10 years but sit on the beach and surf says, "Hey mate, while you are learning to surf, can you take your board down there and go in so you are as far away from the swimming area as possible?" At this point, he is pointing at an area of the beach that is so far away from where we are standing that it may well be part of the territorial waters of New Zealand. It is worth noting that he immediately knew:
  1. I have little or no control of where I go once I catch a wave
  2. I do not actually know how to surf
  3. I am a danger to both myself and anyone who happens to be within 1 Astronomical Unit of me
So, off I went down the beach to learn some more, practice my timing and popping up, and avoid making direct eye contact with those damn 10 year olds.

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