There are times when I'm in the water and I can't help but utter the lyrics of yet another Elvis Costello (and Burt Bacharach) song. I had a great session today, but there was a moment when I said to myself, "God, give me strength." Now, most people know I'm not religious. I don't read the Bible. I don't pray. Christianity just doesn't work for me. However, sometimes I just have to throw an invocation out there . . . if only to keep me from surfing up someone's ass and over his head. Seriously.
If you're a new surfer, don't do this. If you're an experienced surfer, don't do this. People, stop doing this! Do not, upon seeing someone paddling for a wave, decide you must place yourself directly in front of her and paddle for the same wave. Now, I won't run you over . . . even if you deserve it. It's too hard to clean the blood, shit and brain matter off my skeg. Or, at least, that's what I've heard.
I jest, yes.
I've had to deal with this kind of behavior for a few years now. I don't remember it happening this much before the lineups got so bloody crowded. I understand that everyone wants a wave. I also understand that at some point you've just got to go, etiquette be damned. My gripe is when you go while I'm going . . . and you're directly in front of me. Did you do meth before the session? Do you really think that's going to go over well? Obviously, there are some who have the ability and the power to do this at will. And that's not okay either. However, I'd say that there's usually a bigger fish in a pond somewhere who will deal with that person.
I'm not a wave hog by any means. I know the folks on shortboards are out there. I will often alert them to an approaching wave and tell them to take it. That's my way of saying, "Hey, I know I can grab this, but it's your turn." If I don't tell them to take it, I will sometimes just give them a look which lets them know I'm going to let the next wave go to them. My life is all about respect. I show everyone respect until given a reason not to do so.
I swear, I'm getting to my point . . . if there is one. Oh!! Well, my point is I'm now becoming less forgiving of this kind of behavior. Today it was a guy on a shortboard. Just as the law gives a dog "one free bite," he was allowed that one breach of etiquette before I took action. I'm not really one to say anything. Part of that is because, contrary to popular belief, I don't like to talk that much when I'm surfing. I can do that on land. Anyway, I go for a wave. It was my turn. And he just turns and paddles right in front of me. If he'd been naked, I'd have been looking directly at his asshole.
Today, I was at a break that favors longboards. The wave is rather slow. No, it's really slow unless you paddle a little further north to where it breaks with a little more vert and a lot more push. (The crowd is just stupid there so I'm content to sit where the lefts roll through.) This guy was on a shortboard. FAIL. This wasn't a day when the wave would deliver anything for him. So what? You're going to paddle your happy ass into my path thinking you'll get something because I've been catching waves all session so I must be sitting on a peak? (I wasn't. I was just surfing my ass off and working for every wave I got.) My point: I'm not having anymore of this. I didn't run him over, but I paid him back in spades. When I paddled for waves, knowing he'd turn and try to go too, I'd paddle so that I eventually came up next to him. All he kept seeing was the nose of my board heading his way. I did it enough times that he finally got the message that he needed to be gone. Sometimes I took the wave. Other times, I just paddled into his space and looked at him, ensuring he wouldn't catch that wave and waiting for him to say something. Nothing was said. My point was made.
The moral of the story is that you don't take a knife to a gunfight and then start casting aspersions at the nice person whose Desert Eagle isn't even loaded. Mind your manners. I will do the same.