Friday, September 17, 2010
The Short Happy Life Of Wavecrash Sansboarderson
It's Friday afternoon. Girlfriend and I unfold our chairs on Carolina Beach, go for a walk, then plop down and start in on our books. I've got a big collection of Ernest Hemingway short stories that I've been meaning to get to. The first one, The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber, is about a guy who goes on a safari. He encounters a lion. He runs away. He's a coward. Then, he redeems himself, and regains his chutzpah by killing a bison. Only it's not dead. Francis meets a rather horrible end.
As I read that, I notice the waves are getting bigger. Big four or five footers are crashing just a few yards offshore. At least a dozen surfers are bobbing up and down in the water. It looks intense.
Time to prove to Girlfriend that I'm no coward.
I run out into the churning ocean, sans surfboard. The first few waves lazily crash over me. I am unafraid. I stand my ground, leaping over small crests and ducking under ones that arrive too late to ride boardlessly into shore.
Then the big one arrives. I can see the top of it about a foot above my head. It's too far out for me to catch, but a surfer starts to get up on his board and head directly toward... me.
I start to run away. As I turn, the surfer sees me and bails out, leaving me to deal with the frothy white wall of water bearing down on me. I leap into the air to try and avoid taking the brunt of it, but I don't get all that much air. My vertical leap isn't what it used to be. The wave pushes me under. I remember to close my mouth and at least one of my eyes. The other is open just enough for some salt and grains of sand to make their way in and find a home somewhere under my contact lens.
I pick myself up out of the surf, clutch my angry eye and walk back to my chair. Girlfriend looks up from The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and smiles. She hasn't seen a thing.
I don't know why I feel the need to prove my manhood from time to time. Maybe it's genetic. Maybe it's an ego thing. But I've learned a valuable lesson: Next time, make sure someone other than a surfer is watching.