I’m a pretty practical person. I still pack my lunch even though I left elementary school a long time ago, I once paid my electric bill with money my dad and stepmom gave me for an Easter dress; and I bring my own snacks to the movies. So when Ted mentioned getting my own surf board, I thought, “but those are expensive and we can just share.”
Yet, the idea did appeal to me. I never spend money, real money, on anything indulgent like this, and my parents gave me cash for my birthday a year ago specifically intended for something recreational. So after mulling it over for a while, I decided I would start perusing local shops for a gently used board.
However, Ted had a different idea and two days after my birthday, he found potentially the icing on the cake. When I went over to his house that afternoon, I set my purse down before walking into the kitchen. When I turned back around, his eyes were a little wide but I didn’t think much of it. We chatted a bit; then when I went to get something out of my bag, it caught my eye. On the wall was a big, pink, Roxy surf board practically screaming “Happy Birthday Maureen!!!”
“Omigod!” I blurted out. “What is this?? What is this on your wall??”
He teased me about not having the self-proclaimed could-be-a-spy-if-I-wanted-to sense of observation and wished me a happy late birthday. It was an adorable 7-foot soft‑top which he borrowed from a shop that sells used boards and it was mine if I liked it. So we took it for a spin the next day.
Even though I tried to look casual as I carried the board down to the beach, it was all I could do not to break into a trot to get to the water’s edge. As I paddled out, I felt more anchored on the board because it wasn’t as smooth as the fiberglass one I’d been learning on.
Soft-top boards are made with rugged foam so they are easier for learning (plus if it bonks you in the head, it doesn’t hurt as much), and it has more friction so you never have to worry about slipping around on it when paddling.
There was a decent easterly wind so I had to keep paddling down the beach to hold my position, but it quickly became obvious that paddling was going to be easier than sitting on the board because the darn thing kept rolling over!
I don’t know what it was. Maybe because this board was much shorter than the 8’6” that I’d gotten used to and quite a bit narrower, or maybe it was the shape of the board, but I just couldn’t stay on the thing!
What began as funny quickly turned into frustrating because when a potential wave would come, I’d try to turn my board to face the shore but instead I’d roll it over and miss the damn wave! Then on the waves that I did get in position for in time, I ended up pearling the nose into the water when I went to pop up. This would send me face forward into the wave where I’d inevitably get tumbled about before I could come up for air.
To make matters worse, my typical knee bruises I’ve grown used to since picking up this sport were becoming more like mild road rash. I realized it was from rubbing against the foam top, and the salt water only added to the problem. Even my ridiculous boy-length board shorts weren’t going to protect my knees from the strawberries that were forming.
But if it’s one thing I have, it’s heart, so I kept trying for that illusive wave. Over and over again I tried and I was either too far back on the board causing the wave to roll up under me or, as was more often the case, I was too far forward and I would pearl the nose, ending all chances of a ride.
On what ended up being my last wave, I got impatient and leaned too far forward. The front of the board dipped into the water and the back of it got lifted up by the wave…into the washer machine I went. As I was getting “maytagged” underneath the wave, the oh-so buoyant board shot straight up out of the water spinning around, which caught the attention of everyone on the beach who were now appreciating the Roxy logo in all of its bright-pink glory.
After I paddled back to the beach, all the while focusing on not rolling off the board and embarrassing myself in front of the tourists, I picked up the “soft” top and hobbled up to the surf bag. I finally got to survey my scraped-up knees up close and it became clear: Maybe this isn’t “my board” after all.