The West Side: Who Gives a Hoot?
By Steve West // Featured in the Summer 2010 Edition of Standup Journal
I have been surfing on a sup for over a year now. B-team spots that are sparsely populated with junior varsity surfers are my forte. After any kind of ride, good or bad, we cheer each other on like we’re at a pep rally. Shortboards, longboards, sups… it’s all good. Every A-team break has its own unique vibe and unwritten rules.
“No funny hats. No longboards. No kooks.”
A few years ago, “NO SUPs” made it to the list right above, “Lesser known surfers shall not cheer for themselves or their brethren.” Nothing screams “Beat it kook!” louder than complete silence and stink-eye from a local A-team member. Ignorance of the law is no excuse.
“Was I the dorky girl at the prom, asked to dance on a dare?”
Throwing caution to the wind, I paddled out to a crowded break that is not sup friendly. Not friendly at all. There is only one standup paddler there regularly. He’s a local sheriff. Today, due to an altercation at the donut shop, I was on my own without any back-up. I paddled out without much fanfare. Rather than run the gauntlet down the cliff, I eased into the line-up from a safe distance up the coast, thus avoiding a hostile mix of old grumpy surf stars, hot wanna-be pro kids, has-beens, drunks, tweekers and general misfits gathered at the stairway.
For some unknown reason, I found myself alone at the take off spot. Here comes a wave with my name on it. I spun around and dropped in without falling. Nice! Accelerating at warp speed, I held my line until the wave slowed. I love cutbacks. Been trying to do a full roundhouse cutback on an sup since I caught my first wave on one. This was the right place at the right time. Though mine ended up a lurching affair, it accomplished the task at hand.
As cutbacks go, let’s just say I am still working on ’em. Kicking out of the wave, I heard a hoot. Not a loud, “AWOOO!” just more of a subdued “wooo.” But a hoot none the less. I looked around. Just the same sweatshirt-hooded scallywags up on the cliff and twenty game-faced surfers scrambling around me in the water.
No indication of where the hoot came from. I definitely heard a hoot. Heard it right after the cutback. Was somebody waiting for me to acknowledge the accolade, just so they could laugh at the sup kook? Was I like the dorky girl at the prom, asked to dance on a dare? I started to over think the situation.
From first grade through high school, we moved around a lot. I went to a new school, in a different town every year. As the new kid in class, I always sat in the back and tried to blend in. Never raised my hand and answered only when called upon. For Valentine’s Day, Mrs.
Grant had my second-grade class making heart-shaped envelopes out of thick, red, construction paper. We taped these hearts to the front of our desks. It was mandatory for each student to give a Valentine to every classmate.
With an envelope full of young love, I ran home to open my cards. One contained the coolest multi-colored comb I had ever seen in my eight years on the planet. It was made of see-through plastic with real bitchin’ colors running through it. My fascination with this unexpected gift was interrupted by Mom calling me to the front door.
Kimberly Summer, my fellow classmate, stood at the threshold. She had never spoken to me before. “Did you get the comb?” I nodded. “I need it back.” I handed it over. She had intended to give it to Steve Brockman who sat at the desk in front of mine. Simple mistake. No big deal. Just a stupid comb.
Still dazed by the mystery hoot, I surfed another wave as far as it would take me and paddled the rest of the way down to the next break. Waves were smaller and mushier there. I saw two of my standup compadres out in a sea of beginning surfers. Helmets, gloves and an assortment of goofy hats dotted the line-up. Sure signs of a quality, low-vibe, B-team surf spot. Surfed tons of waves in the next two hours. My buddies and I were as vocal as sailors in a strip bar. Turned into a regular hoot-fest. -s.west
Important Safety Information: Some people may develop serious side effects while hooting inappropriately, some of which may be life-threatening. These can include puffed lips, black eyes, swelling of the face and loss of breath. The most common side effects are verbal humiliation, waxed windows and flat tires. If you experience any of these reactions, stop cheering out loud immediately. Use caution until you determine how hooting may affect you.