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Santa Maria Sun / Humor

The following article was posted on January 16th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 13, Issue 45 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 45

Surf or die

Was Krider ever the surf god he remembers himself being?

BY ROB KRIDER

There are certain things you do in life that define who you are. For me, ever since I was a student at Cal Poly and a resident of the Central Coast, I identified with surfing. I still identify myself as a surfer, although anyone who has ever been with me in the ocean would probably classify me as less of a “surfer” and more of a “paddler.” In actuality, I’ve never been much of a wave rider, but back in the day I owned a surfboard, my hair got wet, and I paddled around in the ocean while the waves beat the crap out of me. You can label me as a surfer or a paddler, I don’t care—let’s not get caught up in the details. Bottom line, my car sitting in the Pismo Beach parking lot had a board strapped to the roof, ergo, I was a surfer. Well, at least the girls on vacation from Fresno thought I was anyway, and let’s be honest, that’s all that really mattered to me at the time anyway.

Because I considered myself a surfer back then, I’ve never really relinquished that image of myself. I’m still a surfer. In fact, I’ve rewritten history, and now I’m a good surfer. This isn’t a problem while I’m having a beer at the bar, telling big wave stories and tales about near misses with sharks to anyone who will listen. It is only a problem when I am on vacation with my family in Hawaii, and I decide to take my kids surfing. “Let your old man show you how it’s done.”

My wife, whom I love, a naïve girl from Fresno when we first met, now knows the real truth about my surfing—or should I say paddling? She knows I suck, so she was smart enough to hire a surf instructor to teach the kids to surf. My job was to take a longboard out along with the instructor and the kids so I could offer any tips from a “real California surfer,” just in case the instructor missed something.

My 13-year-old daughter was excited about the surf lessons because she was convinced the lessons would be taught by a gorgeous Hawaiian boy with dark skin, six-pack abs, and a cool island accent. Instead of a Hawaiian hunk, we got Chelsea, an 18-year-old girl, as our instructor. Bummer for my daughter; however, this made my 15-year-old son very happy. At the surf shop, Chelsea talked to my kids about surfing and got them set up with boards, rash guards, and booties. I picked out a longboard, which I thought would suit me well, and Chelsea asked me, “Have you surfed before?”

I scoffed at such a ridiculous question. “Me? I surfed every single day when I was in college. I’m from California; the only thing I’m not used to are these little Waikiki waves.” Chelsea looked at my beer belly, my thin arms, and small shoulders, and appeared skeptical. I caught her unconvinced glance and thought, “I’ll show her. I’m going shred these waves here in Hawaii and prove to her and my kids that I’m still the big Kahuna.”

Our group—Chelsea, my two kids, and me—paddled out toward the breakers. We paddled, and we paddled, and we paddled for what felt like six miles. The breakers were way off of the beach and before we even got to the waves I was feeling the fatigue in my arms and shoulders. I was tired. My kids and Chelsea didn’t seem affected by the endless paddling to get to the line up. I started to realize I was a bit out of shape.

Chelsea worked great with the kids, but I felt her keeping her eye on me. I could also see the lifeguard on the beach (6 miles away) watching me. They were both probably thinking the same thing: Is this guy going to need a rescue? There was no way I was coming in with the lifeguard, and certainly no way I was going to let little Chelsea drag me in. But the fact was, I was wasted. I caught one wave, surfed it for about seven feet, fell into the water, and then I was spent. My kids and Chelsea surfed wave after wave, while I floundered in the water, my arms and entire body spent.

Finally the lesson was over and it was time to head in (thank goodness). My daughter was a little tired, so Chelsea used one of her feet and dragged my daughter’s board in behind her as they paddled toward the beach. I couldn’t keep up. The waves wouldn’t bring me in; my arms wouldn’t bring me in. It appeared as if the current was taking me away from the beach instead of back toward the surf shop to return my rented board. I started to worry I might go out to sea.

Chelsea looked back at me, and I could see it in her eyes: She was about to come back to help me to the beach. I looked right back at her, my face pleading, “Don’t do this to me. Let me keep my dignity. It may take me a while, but don’t rescue me.” I paddled, kicked, spit salt water, and struggled, but eventually (after an embarrassing amount of time), I found my way back to the beach. Thankfully, I did it on my own weakling power. My kids and Chelsea were on the beach, patiently waiting.

“Dad, I didn’t see you catch a single wave out there.”

“Yeah, Dad, you aren’t much of a surfer.”

“I know, and it turns out I’m not much of a paddler either.”

Now that I’m not a surfer, I’ve completely lost my identity. And since the rank of paddler is out too, I think I have just lowered myself to the rank of shark bait.

Rob wants to thank Chelsea for not bringing him in like a drowning rat and also to thank the entire Hawaiian shark population for not nibbling on him as he floundered in the water like a sick sea lion.