Within a klick of departure is when it hit me. Fuck, I was wearing the board shorts that had become too big around the waste to wear surfing. It would have been so simple to turn around and accept the ten or so minutes of time wasted, but that’s not what I did. I definitely thought about it though. I even stopped the van, began one maybe two-points of the five-point turn around process, only to decide otherwise.
I knew exactly why I forgot to switch up my shorts. The day before, call it yesterday late afternoon, I overheard, call him a friend, mumble something under what he thought was his breath, and I didn’t like what I heard. Like a poorly constructed run on sentence, it struck a nerve. But shame on me for allowing it to fluster me enough to make me forget to swap trunks. Yet with the same bit of breath, fuck that guy!
So this guy I am referring to is quote unquote an alcoholic. Have you heard of one? This particularly shaped drunk, because I’ve come to learn they come in all shapes and sizes, doesn’t even drink much anymore. And the reason he doesn’t drink much anymore is because even he knows better. Like if this fool drank any more than not very much anymore, he’d be a dead man. Good chance he’d take people with him along the way. It’s bad.
Drunk does not look good on the guy, and he sure as hell doesn’t wear it too well either. However, once every five or six full moons, and especially if we are aligned internationally,, he hunts me down, declares that he is only going to have one or two, and then proceeds to guzzle down a dozen plus. By definition, as he guzzles his way through that dozen plus, it always becomes very clear that once an alcoholic, forever an alcoholic.
By 6pm, after he had already worn out his welcome at my hotel, he tried to convince me to go back down to the beach for a fish dinner. “I’m buying,”he said. I didn’t want to go, even if it meant going to bed hungry and refusing a free meal. So I told him that I didn’t want to leave Quinn. And that’s when he mumbled, and I quote, “you care too much about your dog.”
Not cool. What hurt the most wasn’t so much what he said, but that he said it. I had invested a ton of time over the years trying to be the right kind of friend to this dude. And this is the thanks I get? Worthless, self serving, juvenile spew? What a piece of shit drunk. So yeah, fifteen hours after the fact it had me wearing the wrong board shorts.
I began thinking of what I had in the van that could help my cause. I knew I had items like clips, ropes, string, bungees, crazy glue, zip ties, tape, wax, that kind of “hold it together” paraphernalia. Conscious that I wasn’t up a creek, it got let go. Because after all, it really wasn’t that big a deal. We’re talking about a bathing suit size, not a contact lens or a hair piece. Bottom line was the the morning show had to go on as was. Forgetting the forgetfulness and regaining the focus was the only play.
As perfect timing would have it, I spotted my guy with the atole in his wheel barrel. This made three days in a row that my calculated morning efforts were going to cross paths with his offerings. Me in van and him with wheel barrel. Paths that may not have crossed had I gone back to the room and made the swap.
Atole is a warm morning beverage comprised of milk, rice, sugar, and in these parts predominantly peanut. It’s the shit. Its only rival would be Mother’s Milk. It helps to know what the man or woman pushing the wheel barrel with a fancy table cloth covering a five gallon bucket can mean to you. I happen to know what it means.
Amigo knows the drill by now. He knows I have my own travel mug that has considerably more volume than his 8oz styrofoam cup. He also knows I am happy to pay 20 pesos for it instead of the going price of 15. He knows that because I gestured it when we first crossed paths on Xmas Day 2021. It was that faith filled day, knowing that the going rate for post pandemic street side atole had gone up to 15 pesos, that I handed Homie 20 pesos and my mug.
He filled my mug all the way to the top and handed me back 5 pesos. He didn’t say anything capitalistic like my mug was bigger or he charges by the ounce and therefore.. blah blah blah. No, he filled the mug to the brim, handed me my change and graciously said Gracias Amigo. That’s when I handed back over the 5 pesos, insisting on paying more because my cup was bigger. Nearly 2x the figured capacity actually. He accepted the gesture, thanked me again, and that was that.
My favorite atole is ajonjoli. Ajonjoli is another way to spell sesame. He rarely has it. Likely has to do with his family Rancho producing peanuts and not sesame seeds. So with this guy, it’s normally either Plain or Peanut. This day, and much like magic, it was ajonjoli. That brought a smile to my face. Wheel Barrel Guy was also schlepping vegetable tamales. That was a first. Three for 25p. I said yes to the tamales knowing well they would come in handy later in the day.
When I got to my land, I carried water to all my trees, waxed my board, put on sunscreen, put on socks and shoes, tee shirt, earplugs, bucket hat, and my throw away sunglasses. During this preparation process is when I was reminded again about the fact that I was wearing the wrong board shorts. Damnit Jim!
From my lot to the surf is about a kilometer. It’s but a seven-minute trot carrying a surfboard. Because of that, I have always opted for running to the surf instead of driving. It’s a nice way to warm up a 55 year old body before going surfing. The concern with loose fitting board shorts had nothing to do with the running portion of my morning exercise, rather the surf portion.
Amongst the handful of gizmos that I could have gadgeted, I opted for the two meter long, brand new piece of nylon rope. Rope that was the width of a pencil, so pretty thin. I put the two ends together making it a yard’s length, which also gave it more of a belt feel. I tied it around my waste on top of the suit and made a couple normal knots. I ran to the beach thinking nothing more of it.
On the shore, and as I was stripping myself of all my wearables, I was reminded yet again that I had gerry rigged a piece of rope around my waste to keep my bathing suit from being ripped off. A few more than zero fucks were given, but not many.
Speaking of not many, the entire beach was relatively empty outside of the normal soiree of net fisherman. That’s to mean if I looked left as far as I could see, and right as far as I could see, I would count 20 humans along the seashore doing anything from this to that.
There were likely handfuls of entitled tourists ooccupying some of the discreet beachfront villas and bungalows. Certainly between the shore and my lot were plenty of field workers, construction laborers, and tractor farmers. There was also the cement truck drivers, area shepherds, birdwatching dude, the odd architect, guy on horseback, RE shark, that sort of randomly scattered bit of human activity.
There weren’t too many surfers in the water either. Under a dozen, and sprinkled throughout. I took it that the waves weren’t that good. Plus it was big enough to keep a beginner surfer out of the water which at times can be 90% of the crowd. Oddly, and unlike just about every other day here the past 90 days, the morning offshore winds had already shifted to a light onshore breeze. Let’s call it 8:45am on a Thursday in very early February, 2023.
I made it out without too much trouble. I could tell that the bigger ones were riddled in consequences. Yet, sitting closer to shore and picking off the smaller ones also would put you at risk of having to deal with the handful of bigger ones breaking in front of you. It was a bit cat and mouse out there, but for 30 minutes or so I was playing quite efficiently. I must have caught half a dozen smaller sized waves and was never caught too off-guard by the larger sets.
And then my luck ran out. I tried to muscle into an overhead one that looked to have a bit of a corner, but wasn’t able to scratch into it. Behind it was the first wave of a series of bigger waves that immediately put me on the defense. I remember going full gas out to sea to give myself a chance to get under this first one, hoping there wasn’t a bigger one behind it.
I made it under the first one, but the one behind it was indeed bigger and broke well in front of me. It was a wave that didn’t have a throwing lip, rather an immediate crumble, followed closely by gathered momentum as it rushed down the entire face, ultimately becoming a mountain of whitewash that was going to have three or so seconds on the flats before devouring me. Still, I decided it was worth duck diving rather than abandoning ship. I stroked hard right at it and did what I should of and could of. Whoosh!!
I wasn’t able to hold onto my board. I also wasn’t able to hold onto my bathing suit. Gone. I was now a naked, middle aged man in the Pacific Ocean. Well not totally naked. I still had on sunscreen and I still had my ear plugs in. Now what?
The first thing I decided to do was be completely naked in the Pacific Ocean for ten minutes. I won’t claim anything like how liberating it all felt or that I caught my best waves des nudo yada yada. It wasn’t like that. Laughable if anything. I began plotting my offense.
I had a surfboard, a tee shirt, two socks, two shoes, a leash, a bucket hat, and sunglasses to help get me back to the van. This was going to take creativity. A stealth sort of mission. Certainly a bit more anaerobic than desired. This was a job for Nakedman.