yesterday, I was 'that guy'
mustache rides for everyone
The ocean has been flat. I have’t lashed my BBQ to the deck. There haven’t been any days lately in the water where I felt my life was at risk. The power hasn’t gone out once. As such, so far hurricane season had been, up to this weekend, a total bust.
Earl’s leftovers were still slowly degrading yesterday. By the afternoon, most who surfed all day Saturday had little left in the tank. I was at my favorite spot1. The parking lot was empty. There were lots of waves left.
I got in and capitalized right away with a bomb of a set wave from way out the back. I ripped the shit out of it. It was grand. At the end of my ride I looked up at the bluff and heart sunk.
It was covered with people. Twenty somethings. The Get Along Gang, I thought with derision. Sigh, session’s over after just one wave.
Though I was ready to quit, my mustache was not. It took over. I became a man possessed. As the people on the bluff began to get ready, my mustache magically grew. It started paddling my board confidently into the juiciest of waves. It caught everything it paddled for.
On some waves where it took off too late, too close to the critical peak of the wave, my mustache turned to wings and could flap to keep me stable and riding. I caught everything I paddled for. I didn’t blow a single wave.
Set after set came. Cut backs, foam bashes and head dips all combined with long rides from the edge of the reef right into the knee deep water at the beach.
The Get Along Gang up on the bluff began to notice. Hoots and car horns greeted me after some mediocre surfing on small waves.
Within an hour, they were all dressed in their wetsuits, taken ample pictures and were ready to go. My mustache was still going strong. In the water, they looked a bit nervous, a bit scared.
My mustache could smell the fear in their brand new wetsuits and their mass produced pop out boards. It could smell fear and it smiled. It smiled and propelled me confidently into more waves.
It wasn’t long before I was surrounded. Normally, being surrounded by new surfers with soft tops can be a real hassle. They tend to all go at once or get in the way. I let waves go and they would go.
On the best waves, my mustache would take over. It would paddle me with enormous confidence into waves. When it did, the others seemed to back away. I guess it is true that a mustache is a kind of power play and sign of male dominance. I’m not used to being deferred to. It was nice.
I love my mustache
Then, people started chatting with me:
How do we stay out of the way at this spot?
Where do we sit?
What kind of board is that? What do you recommend?
Do you surf here in the winter?
Holy shit, I thought. My mustache is the most experienced surfer in the water right now. This hasn’t happened before. I’m ‘that guy’. I’m that guy who knows this spot, who knows what he’s doing, who can have whatever wave he wants.
My mustache like being that guy. It started answering questions, giving tips and calling people into waves. My mustache took the waves it wanted. At the same time, my mustache was generous. My mustache was fun.
My mustache was driving me nuts. I paddled away from the pod, just to have a bit of peace. But the pod? The frickin’ Get Along Gang followed my mustache. I wanted to glower at the them, to force them away. My fucking mustache wouldn’t let me. I told them more about where to sit, how to work this break and how to better get along with people.
My mustache even started calling people into waves, encouraging them and whooping with them and their joy as they executed some pretty basic moves.
Members of the Get Along Gang were having a blast. They were catching loads of waves. Many of them were a chaotic ball all charging the same wave at once. It was total carnage.
When my mustache got out of the water, the Get Along Gang started to drift. There was a strong cross shore current. My mustache told them about it. Without the gravitational pull of my mustache however, they started drifting down the beach. They drifted further and further away from good waves and closer to a dangerous rocky area we like to call ‘the bone yard’.
I didn’t realize it, but my mustache was the anchor. These people, The Get Along Gang? They were following me. I was helpful by merely being there. This was odd. They were not my children. I wasn’t ‘the teacher’. It wasn’t my role to show the way. It just happened.
Surfing here has changed. When I was starting, there were more experienced people than beginners. Since COVID there are more beginners than experienced surfers. This has caused some complaints and more than a few boards ruined due to in-water collisions.
I wasn’t used to being the most experienced surfer in the water. Luckily my mustache knew what to do. It was both assertive and generous, dominant yet yielding. Though my heart sunk when all the people showed up, my mustache pulled it up from the mire. My mustache stepped up to lead and we all had more fun that way.
What happens when you’re the most experienced surfer in the water? Metaphorically speaking of course. Without a structurally defined role, how would your mustache behave? Has this ever happened to you, were people defer to you just based on being there? Where does this happen for you?
How would you lead?
And, when are you going to spend more time listening to your mustache?
This used to be a great spot to surf until smart phones. Now, with this new ethos of ‘If I don’t have a photo that I’ve broadcast to a group chat of 10k kooks, it didn’t happen, the spot has been blown up and is infested with people. Ten years ago this spot would have been busy with twelve people on a huge swell. There were twenty five on this day. Luckily, most of them couldn’t surf well.