Friday, May 04, 2007
During my last surf session, I must've heard the word "kook" used fifty times. On a log in front of the break the words, "Kooks Go Home!" is sprayed as a warning to anyone who doesn't understand the rules of the spot. When two kids in hoodies walked out on the rocks and tried to snap a picture, a barrage of "Fuck you, kooks!" and "No photos, kooks!" was thrown at the duo, who immediately lowered their camera and scurried back to the parking lot. The locals jokingly called eachother "kooks" when they blew waves or didn't make sections.
I sat in the lineup and felt somehow that after three years of paying my dues, I had earned the waves I got. But there was a time not too long ago that I was proud of being a kook.
When I started surfing, it had nothing to do with being cool or becoming a shredder. It was all about getting out of town with the boys and sharing crazy experiences. My first stick was a big plastic banana board with a flimsy 6-foot leash. I was so content to roll in my 4/3 wetsuit (bought at an online clearance house), get worked on the inside closeouts, surf tiny waves, and hoot and holler at every good set that came through, whether anyone was riding or not.
As a matter of fact, after thumbing through a couple surf mags and seeing the horrible ways surfing was being marketed to the masses, I decided that looking like a surfer was the last thing I wanted to do.
But I did get stoked. I surfed more and more and for longer sessions. My equipment changed gradually to a custom 7'0 egg, then to a 6'6 hybrid shape. Now I pull a $700 quad fish out of my bag and wear a 6/5 super-stretch hooded suit. I pick surf spots based on studying the online charts and don't even bother driving out to the beach if the swells are over 15 feet (we used to just go and play in the reforms).
Have I changed that much? I still think that mass-marketed surf culture is a joke, but now I try to support artisan shapers and buy quality outdoor gear. I get longer sessions because I'm warmer and better waves because I need them to satisfy my somewhat higher level of surfing. I know more about equipment and what works for me in the conditions we have up here.
Am I still a kook?
I still hoot at strangers on waves and grin from ear to ear after good rides--or good wipeouts. I look like a hodad most of the time (in and out of the water). I have no desire to boost airs.
If those things make me a kook, then I guess I still am--or at least I hope so.
The Kooks - Seaside