Fred For Your Head
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Fredly's Blog

Fred For Your Head, Fredforyourhead.com, Fred Reiss.

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A Surf Day: a battle to be better from the outside in

Okay, all I wanted to do was paddle out and hang at my surf spot. Slowly, I've been getting stronger, fighting the neuropathy and regaining some balance on my feet nd legs and getting stronger in paddling. But I had a day without an obligations, so the only place I wanted to be was sitting on a surfboard, dangling my legs in the water, and hoping to score a few waves amid the crowd.

I'd say six out of ten people in the line-up were on Costco boards. There were two guys doing a surf class and shoving kids into waves. And several others maneuvering and paddling around each other and viciously paddling to outdo the other one for a wave--and then they'd stand with their legs wide and arms straight out as if they were riding a forty-foot wave, only to be burned by others taking off down the line. Another guy on a huge board with a camera on the nose. An old guy wearing a helmet angling and dropping in on people and crawling up to stand—clearly dangerous. A pack of women all clustered together like kelp pods in the middle of the break so they could all go for the same wave and they hoot and cheer and laugh with each other while they prevented anyone from getting a wave. Then, a woman paddles out with a one-year old infant on the nose of her board, smiling like she's somehow going to be the water Mom cresting as new race--child-endangerment nose riding. All the other women applauded and cheered for her--yes, a true nurturer ("Today after Mommy breast feeds you she is going to give you a head injury."). Another woman is shoving her daughter in front of other people coming down the wave and saying, "Just look at the beach and paddle." Nothing new. I refuse to get bummed out about the crowd--I want the ocean and the strength it can give me.

But that doesn't mean people won't give you shit. Then again, I wonder, can you imagine having to work or be related to these people in any way?

One woman kept moving to my left, anytime a wave was coming--or, Ms. Me-Too-Not-You angled her board and paddled in front of me, or paddled so she would be in front of me and defied me to run over her. There are many like her. She didn't paddle--she slithered. I didn't challenge her. Didn't want to get into arguments or confrontations, let her keep her damp ambition--and when she rode, no style, just stood there going down the line, no cut back, just shooting as fast as she could so no one like her could burn her the way she would burn them.

But on one wave where our rails almost banged, I pulled back and said,"You're a snake."

She paddled back out and looked over at me. I gave her major Fred-powered stink-eye. I could tell she was thinking, "This guy won't ever let me get another wave after that." She was right. So she turned away and paddled out to first peak to joi8n the rest of her kind: the horde.

I go for a wave and down the line some guy with a besrd and his girlfriend see me and keep paddling. I yell, "Hey!" thinking they'd see me and back off

But on one wave where our rails almost banged, I pulled back and said,"You're a snake."

She paddled back out and looked over at me. I gave her major Fred-powered stink-eye. I could tell she was thinking, "This guy won't ever let me get another wave after that." She was right. So she turned away and paddled out to first peak to joi8n the rest of her kind: the horde.

and his girlfriend see me and keep paddling. I yell, "Hey!" thinking they'd see me and back off. They don't--they don't even make eye contact, they keep paddling and jump up on their boards and there's nowhere for me to go. We all collide.
The girt looks embarrassed, but the guy glares.

I said, "Did you see me coming down the wave and you kept going. When you see a truck coming down the street do you walk in front of it."

The guy goes, "Hey chill. It's a small day."

"Oh so you're not going to say you're sorry, you're just going to say whatever yoiuy have top say to justify doing whatever you did and that I'm the wrong is wrong because it's all about you, right."

"Chill, man," he says, shaking his head.

"Yeah, why don't you chill and let me take and enjoy a wave I earned." Then I added, "Fucking moron."
But there was no anger in me--it was like stepping in dogshit. You just wish it didn't happen. And since I was in the water, there was nothing to scrape off and no smell, he just had to be a floating turdle.

One of the guys teaching a class and whoI have never seen before looks at me like some pseudo wave guru and says, "Hey, it's a beautiful day."

"Yes, it's definitely beautiful for you because you're out here making money, "I said. "Hey do you think I want to be out here and hurt people with my board? Who am I? I'm not a God?" Then I looked away and paddled out beyond the crowd, and with my back to the shore, I sat on my board dangled my legs in the water, felt the sun on my face, and said, "

Yeah it is a beautiful day."

Later on Beardo-Weirdo takes off in front of me again, he is on a shortboard, furiously pumping in front of me. He's pumping and all I'm doing is standing still on my longboard trimming and smiling and relaxed--enjoying the wave stoke and finding himn amusing. He keep pumping, but my trimmed rail is lodged in the slot of the curl and he can't drop down enough in the sloping face--so the wave itself rejects him.

I just smile and paddle out. And even a little bit later I score a set wave all by myself and saw Beardo-Weirdo paddling out and clearly angry that he settled for burning someone else on a smaller wave and was out of position. I was smiling and pleased that I could feel a balance, and do a cutback and set up again. It was like waking up.

I didn't care about the crowd. I didn't care about any of them. I was out here to sit on my board and dangle my legs in the waster. And I could feel I was getting stronger in my chest and arms, and regaining better balance in my legs to overcome cancer's side effects that linger longer than these people.

"Stronger, stronger" I repeat like a prayer. "Just get better, get better than the people trying to take you away from yourself. Get better at everything. Get better. Get stronger, get better."

The crowd grew to the point where there was no way to find any logic within it. So I paddled in, paddling hard the entire way to get stronger and better.

It was a great surf.

Fred Reiss