Friday, February 29, 2008

Surfer School of Protocol

Surfers at Grandview in LeucadiaWednesday afternoon and the Grandview parking lot was nearly full. Sure, it was a toasty 75 degrees, not bad for February, not bad at all. But, that’s not what brought the crowds. No, you can always tell when the waves are good by the lot. Word gets out and spreads throughout surfdom. Good waves, lots of cars.

I love watching the surfer routine. It’s so consistent and so pervasive. All the guy surfers seemingly went to the same surfer school of protocol. Here it is.
Surfers at Grandview in LeucadiaYou drive a light truck or sport utility car that will easily fit your board, your towel, your wet suit, and your trunks (which I am convinced you never wear). You stand behind your parked vehicle and undress, taking everything off except your pants. Then you wrap your beach towel around your middle and surreptitiously scan the lot. You’re basically modest and you don’t want anyone watching you. You carefully reach under the towel—you don’t want to lose your cover or, goodness, show too much—and remove the rest of your clothes. You’re now naked except for the towel. With wet suit handy, you step into each leg and pull up the suit to your waist. You can now safely remove the towel.
Surfers at Grandview in LeucadiaNow you prepare your board. You pull it out and place it gently on the ground next to the trunk of the car. You attach the leash (if it’s not already attached) and apply the right wax. You grab any cold-water extras: booties, gloves, or cap and place them next to your board. You lock up the car and take only what you need to surf. Surfers are minimalists. No chair, no towel, no sun glasses. Anything that can’t be used while surfing stays in the car.

You walk briskly through the parking lot and down the stars. You may pause at one or more of the landings to study the break and the crowds. When you get down to the beach, you walk to the water’s edge. Here, you’ll put down your board and attach the leash to your ankle. You may rinse the board. You put on any extra cold-water garb and then you’re off into the waves.
Surfers at Grandview in LeucadiaThe return has its matching, symmetrical tasks. Detach the leash from your ankle and take off any extras. Back at the car, you place the board lovingly inside the back. You strip down to your waist and grab the trusty towel. Once again, you carefully inch down the (now wet and uncooperative) wet suit. You grab your ready dry street clothes and once you’re again minimally clothed, it’s safe to remove the towel. You’re set.

Oh, and Happy Leap Day (and Happy Birthday, Jon).

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