Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Surf Jargon


Well, I made it to Florida. The flight was long, as usual, but uneventful. I didn't have talkers sitting next to me, thank God.

I had a window seat, but I only looked outside a couple of times -- these days, with everyone peering at seatback video screens, it seems taboo to travel with your window shade up. Remember how people used to fly with plenty of daylight in the cabin, looking outside, watching the clouds and whatnot? Nowadays we all fly sealed inside a dark tube of fuselage.

I read all nine-plus hours, which was great. I polished off three issues of The New Yorker and I've almost finished William Finnegan's surfing memoir. As I've said, I'm really enjoying this book, even though it's full of passages like this:

Jeffreys is rocky but not especially shallow. It's a facey wave, a broad canvas for sweeping long-radius turns, including cutbacks toward the hook. It's fast and it's powerful but it's not particularly hollow -- it has no bone-crushing sections a la Kirra. Some waves have flat sections, or weird bumps, or go mushy; others close out. The rule, however, is a reeling wall, peeling continuously for hundreds of yards. My pale blue New Zealand pintail loved that wave. Even at double-overhead, dropping in against the wind, it never skittered.

Now, even knowing that Jeffreys and Kirra are surfing locales and his New Zealand pintail is a favorite board, I have only the vaguest idea what he's talking about with all that surf jargon. But I suspect he's mining it for the poetry of the language. (He mentions writing another book, about railroading, that his editor complained was too full of jargon, and he made just that case for keeping the jargon in.) Anyway, you can imagine just enough of the action to keep it interesting, and most of the book is more generally descriptive of places and personalities.

I'm mostly just jealous of his experiences, traveling around the world for months on end, working odd jobs and selling magazine articles to get by and move on to the next wave. He drove coast-to-coast with a friend as a 16-year-old, and traipsed around Europe with his girlfriend just after graduating from high school. The practical, suburb-dweller side of my brain keeps thinking: "Where are you getting enough money for all this? What about health insurance? How did you talk your parents into allowing you to go?"

Completely unrelated: Why do airlines still give transatlantic customers little underperforming toothbrushes and tubes of yucky toothpaste? Does anyone really use them?

(Photo: Wild poinsettia in my dad's yard.)

11 comments:

Ms. Moon said...

When we flew into Havana- surely a life moment- I not only had no window on my row but the window in front of me was closed. I couldn't see a thing. We could have flown into Berlin for all I knew.
Welcome to Florida. Our AC isn't working. I think I'm having an old-age crisis and I'm not kidding.

Marty Damon said...

I'm impressed by your airline. Even on transatlantic trips no one has been worried about my dental hygiene.
And jargon! I've traded manuscripts with someone and I'm finding it very slow going as she is determined to name every esoteric brand of every object in her novel.

jenny_o said...

I'm wondering if the airline gives out toothbrushes and toothpaste not for dental hygiene, as Marty said, but in the hope that those who have slept through the trip will take heed and get rid of the "morning dragon" - or at least cover it up ... was anyone using them??

Beautiful shot of the poinsetta.

Sharon Anck said...

Glad to hear you made it to Florida and had a safe flight. That paragraph from the book make my head swim a bit but that's probably because I know absolutely nothing about surfing. I do feel a tiny bit jealous about all his youthful traveling adventures. I so wish I had started my European explorations straight out of high school but, my parents would not have been keen on the idea. They were nervous enough about it when I was in my 30's.

Linda Sue said...

Glad you cheated death yet again! safely in the not so safe USA- little toothbrushes yes, I use everything the airline so generously offers! I would take the floatation device home with me if they would allow!

ellen abbott said...

I didn't get any cheesy toothbrush with toothpaste. I usually opt for an aisle seat having flown enough not to be thrilled by looking out the window at clouds and sky. but isn't that sky up above the clouds an awesome and deep blue? I did was assigned a window seat from Toronto to Newark though and got some pretty good sky shots.

Red said...

I doze the whole time on flights unless somebody beside me is chatty.

Sarah said...

I love jargon from other walks of life-fascinating-and I like secretly knowing it. I try not to use teaching jargon if I can help it though. have you read any Kem Nunn books. I have read two which I can't remember the names of but can let you know-both surfing related and good.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

When Britain voted for Brexit, that didn't mean you had to leave immediately Steve!
Have a lovely time back in your sweltering native state. Thank heavens for air conditioning!

37paddington said...

The thing I take away from this is he grew up to lead an interesting life and was not harmed by his youthful adventures, but rather became more interesting because of them. It helps to remember that the world is not as threatening and dangerous as the 24/7 news cycle would have us believe.

37paddington said...

not always, anyway.