Surfing Vancouver Island  

Foondroppings 24  



I made a $1

05/02/2000

The occasion was to honor MomsFoon on her 80th birthday. Her knees are shot and so are her kidneys. She dosen't hear at all well and she claims she cannot taste or smell most foods. She is amazed she has lived this long when all of her siblings and most of her friends have died. Yet she remains upbeat and blessed by God. Her new Gerontologist has made it his goal to keep her alive until her 100th. Moms gives thanks every morning she is able to wake up from her own bed and hobble into the kitchen to make her coffee. It'll take more than three episodes of cancer and a heart bypass to put her down.

The dinner party was attended by close family. Everyone was happy to be there except one nephew who was warned by his mother to cover up all of his obscene tattoos and most of his piercings as to not upset his Grandmother. In typical youthful rebellion, he clinked his tongue post against the lip of the beers he chugged continuously on his way to getting drunk. Uncle Foonie had a word with him later that included the words, "will" and "out of" if he ever showed up at another family function inebriated.

Moms has lived longer than anyone has ever in our family. It gives us all hope, considering our questionable gene pool, and makes us appreciate the huge advancements in medical care, which may be our only chance in the long run. Everyone was in awe of the pictures from our Hawaii vacation and asked me if I really did continue to drag my decrepit carcass out in the ocean instead of climbing into a golf cart like most of my contemporaries. I suggested that Neal's shot of me showing I could still survive a slamdunking at Laniekea was an indication I am not quite ready to hang up the board and hit a pill around a golf course.

Just that morning I had gone down to the Crystal Pier in Wrightsville Beach to again challenge the microwaves of North Carolina. I was delighted to be greeted with knee to chesthigh, light green, tissue thin, waves, held up by a warm offshore breeze in a brilliant sun. Water temps, a comfortable 65.

Spending 20 minutes stretching out, I felt limber enough to conquer the weeniewaves, but quickly discovered my hip and lowerback were not going to cooperate. I positioned my self within spitting distance of the "No Surfing with 500' of Pier" sign and goofed off on a couple of lefties. The crowd was sparse. Locals party late, get up later, and don't like "cold" water. ergo, they show up at about 10:00 am. The only early riders were out of staters, one guy from Rhode Island was trunking it - balls of steel.

By time the sun had toasted the air to the mid 70s, the break was filling up. Longboarders ruled in the tiny waves with plenty of tiptime in the lined up walls. I didn't know 'til later that many of the surfers were practicing for Sunday's Eastern Surfing Association event. I went down to watch some of the heats Sunday and marveled at several really young (early teen) longboarders who were just wailing on modern, flyweight, longshapes. The moves were lightning quick, derivative of having watched many surfing movies of the old days. But the big roundhouse turns and cutbacks, the frenzied moves to the nose and back and the stylin poses on the nose, had a refreshing air of originality when performed by a 13 year old.

I was impressed by one boy whose goal on every wave was to spend as much time on the front third of his board as possible. Several times I guessed he'd pearl the thing which he did. But no sweat sparky - he just popped the fin around 180 degrees and continued to ride fin front until he could spin it around again. I thought this was a fluke until he did it on 3 successive waves.

My riding was recreational and experimental. I caught only waves I knew I could make, and tested my arms, legs, back shoulders and neck to see if I needed to do more conditioning in the gym, or pool. My stamina is not that good for long paddles and I definately need to start doing laps for that. I can count on my arthritis to flared up in each session, but pre-doses of motrin, keep it manageable.

The sad news is I am noticing other physical deterioration. Skin, hair, musculature, ligature, mental, etc. I'm looking forward to a great season this year, but hope I can perform up to the conditions. I keep reminding myself to condition and pace myself. I don't think I will be logging any 4 hour sessions this year. I hope to spend more time in the water this year with a camera if not a board.

On the way home I stopped at a gas station, and was washing the windshield of many Carolina bugs. In the full service lane next to me was woman much older than Moms who was getting her tank filled. Her bright orange hair and red lipstick could not hide the fact she was very old. Her deep blue Cadillac El Dorado was shiny clean and well polished. She leaned out her window, mistaking me for a station employee (the grubby hat, G&S t-shirt and worn jeans may have something to do with it) and asked me to clean her windshield too. Sure that her vision was not very good judging by the thickness of her glasses, I gladly complied doing an especially good job.

As I headed past her window to put the windshield cleaning stuff away she abruptly put her hand out the window and gave me a $1. "Thank you young man," she said, "I do appreciate a good clean windshield on a beautiful day like today." I declined the dollar and said there was no charge to provide service in the full service lane, and wished her a good Carolina Blue day and a long happy life. She smiled brilliantly as she slowly wheeled the monstrous car into traffic.

-Foon (Looking forward to getting my windshield cleaned someday)


Where the Sun Don't Shine

04/07/2000

Health warning, not for the squeamish

"Don't brood on what's past, but never forget it either."
-Thomas H. Raddall

Part 1, The indiscretions of youth

"Experience is not what happens to a man, but what a man does with what happens to him."
-Aldous Huxley

In the Summer of 1964 Barry Kinkaid, nickname "BK," was the smoothest surfer on Gilgo Beach, Long Island. He usually could be seen wheeling his 9 foot Hobie surfboard around in the chest high waves like somebody on one of those Bongo Boards. You know, the ones that roll atop a wooden cylinder so you have to balance while it rocks, tips, pitches and swerves. He'd catch waves in one or two leisurely strokes, turn a snappy frontside gash and then go instantly to the nose, arching gracefully through a section then.... BAM.... just as fast, backpeddle and crank a huge backside cutback, left foot nailed to the t-band tail block. He was a one man surf festival, extremely entertaining to watch.

BK bought totally into the surfer stereotype of the day; coffee bean bronze tan topped with a shock of shoulder length straight, white-blond hair that he parted over to one side. He would continuously half turn his head sweeping a long wave of silky blond locks over his left eye and back over his left ear. And since his hair was so fine, it would just as quickly drop down covering half his face again, precipitating the cycle all over again. Riveting and clear light blue eyes stared out of his deeply tanned face; the eyes of a predator - he never missed a single movement. He would hold a conversation with someone and never look them in the eye. His gaze was perpetually on the ocean.

He only rode custom made boards by local shaper, Charlie Bunger, insisting on the most radical shapes, rails, skegs and deck designs. But to personalize his quiver, on every board up near the nose he had stenciled in big block letters of reddish brown tint, the initials BK.

My friends and I worshiped the water BK walked on. As fourteen year olds we looked to him as our own local surf legend. We all wanted to surf just like him. We practiced and mimicked the slicing turns and radical cutbacks we would see him perform, never quite getting that ball bearing loose flex in our arms and legs that made him look like the most fluid surf riding specimen you've ever seen. Whereas we would flounder around and fall off a lot, he was the real deal, a genuine local surf star and we all admired him, but.......

None of us would utter the true dark secret that was Barry Kinkaid. In reality he was a spoiled Vette driving, trust fund richboy; a bully and a wave hog. He made Dora and Fain look like choirboys. When he drove up in his red Corvette, bright white board lashed to the roof, everyone's gaze (especially the girls) would sweep like radar until he was the center of their attention. When he paddled out it was like he was parting the Red Sea of the pack. No one would surf within 40 yards of the guy or even think of taking off on him,...... except me.Yeah, I was the stupid kook who in my second year of learning to surf the lazy mushballs of the South shore of Long Island, one day lost track of the fact I was in BK's ocean, and would pay the price.

The side shore current that afternoon was moderate, surf running head high, causing everyone to have to paddle occasionally to stay on the wide offshore sandbar that made up Gilgo's main break. Unusual offshore breezes combed the normally dingy looking water into what would be called the best conditions of that summer. BK owned the peak taking every overhead set wave, but if you scrambled over there while he was occupied riding, you could pick off his leftovers. I swore I'd seen him take a wave in but didn't realize he'd kicked out early seeing a larger set wave farther outside.

I was very nervous, it being the biggest day I'd ever been out, so my attention was focused on every wave that walled up on the outside sandbar. The set wave I wanted was moving in swiftly and I was struggling to position myself off to the left of what I thought would be an 8 foot peak. So focused was I on this task I was completely oblivious to the fact that BK was already stroking confidently to exactly the spot where the wedge shaped wall of water would come over, offering a perfect hollow arena to showcase his dazzling surfriding talents.

I guess BK never even considered that someone would be bold (or ignorant) enough to ever drop in on him, so he didn't even call out that he was on it. All I know is that it had taken every ounce of courage I could summon to paddle for that wave while I was looking over my shoulder opposite from where BK was. I could feel the slide of my board and quickly stood up, thrilled at how high in the air this wave had taken me. Almost at the same time I could hear the loud and furious cry of someone behind me protesting what I'd done. "YOU BASTARD!!! I'LL KILL YOU WITH MY BARE HANDS!!!" was all I can remember hearing as I looked back over my shoulder toward the breaking wave.

I could see BK trying to swing his board around cranking a giant kickout that was calculated to take my head off. Instead I could see the anger on his face when he was guillotined off the deck of his board by the blade like falling lip of this big wave, which drove him headfirst into the pit of the collapsing mountain of water. I'll never forget how close his board came whizzing by my face as it sliced passed me, the letters "BK" on the nose etching a very deep image in my memory of the incident.

I took the drop and sort of proned out on my board knowing I had committed the most grievous sin that could be perpetrated by a kook at Gilgo Beach. I was almost giddy with fear not knowing what my fate would be. I wrongfully figured if I retrieved BK's board things would go well (or at least better) for me. This was exactly the wrong impulse to follow. What I should have done was paddle in and run as far away and as fast as I could. Instead, I dutifully paddled in, got hold of BK's board and started to take it out to him as he swam in the long distance from outside.

Did you ever see one of those Godzilla movies where the big rubber lizard comes bursting out of pool made up to look like Tokyo Harbor, high stepping it up onshore, spewing smoke out of his nose and flames out of his mouth? Well then you've got a pretty good idea of how I saw BK coming in after his board. The vivid blue eyes sparked like a welder's torch of hate.Verbal venom dripped from the exposed fangs of one very pissed off surf cobra coiled and ready to strike. As I offered up his board in a gesture of total supplication, apology and respect, he whacked it aside and grabbed me by the front of the flimsy football jersey I wore as a rashguard, lifting me off my feet and looking straight into my terror shrunken eyes. A dark brown vein on his temple was throbbing like some subcutaneous snake embryo begging to burst forth and be born. The muscles in his massive chest and arms appeared as though they were carved from the trunk of a huge oak tree. I waited..... holding my breath, heart pounding like a bass drum, expecting to be beaten to death.

"I SWEAR to GOD kook, if there weren't so many witnesses I'd gladly drown you right here and now. I have never been so burned by such a stupid ass kook like you. I am laying down the law to you RIGHT now. Don't you EVER surf in the same ocean as me again. If you are out and see me coming, don't even think about it, paddle right in. If I ever find you even near the same waves as me, I'll stick my board where the sun don't shine. This is something you should remember forever you miserable punk. Don't you ever ride a wave anywhere and not expect to see me coming after you. DO YOU HEAR ME SHITHEAD!!??"

Quite literally I was hanging in the air until BK threw me down in the shallow water not even waiting for my weak reply of, "yes sir." He whirled around, picked up his board and stormed away to paddle out again. I gathered myself up and was quickly surrounded by my friends, who agreed unanimously that yes..... for my mistake I was for all practical purposes, a dead man, or at least would be cursed for life. Marked forever by the incredible legend that was Barry Kinkaid

BK was right, I've spent my entire life expecting someday to see him and his board coming out of nowhere, slashing down the line, ready to jam me up the butt for the crime of riding his waves. Cold terror has an astounding impact on the psyche of an impressionable youth. Things that happen to you as a young teen often stick with you longer in life then other matters. I never forgot his warning

-Foon

Where the Sun Don't Shine Pt.2

Part 2. In the end, the Legend's Promise

you might wish to sit down for this

"Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experience."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

My diminutive Chinese-American physician, Dr. Yen-Kan (all 5'0" of her) looked up at me and smiled weakly. "You can pull up your trousers now Mr.Foondoggy," she said as she peeled the greased up rubber sleeve off the finger she had just crammed up my ass and wiggled around. "You have a slight swelling of the prostate which is causing your urinary problems, but we can solve that with some meds. Your PAS is totally normal so we'll just keep an eye on it each year with annual digital exams."

Oh goody, something to look forward too. I think I'll wear a new cologne each time. And maybe send myself some roses. That should get me in the mood.

Despite my circumstances, bare-assed and bent over an examining table, I was greatly relieved to hear the doctor's prognosis. In fact, Dr. Yen-Kan had spent the last 20 minutes telling me the results of all of the tests I'd gotten for my physical. According to her, for a 50 year old office working couch potato, I was in pretty good shape as far as body chemistry, with an especially low blood cholesterol count. As she continued to write up the results of her probing on my medical charts she suddenly looked up and said, "I see you have colon cancer in your family history Mr.Foondoggy, you should make an appointment immediately for a colonoscopy."

WARNING!!! WARNING!!! WARNING!!! Bright lights and bells went off in my skull. I'd heard about this test from friends and just the description had me cramping up already. "There's really no need Doc, I feel great and I can set my watch by my bowel movement. I'm regular as a clock." She stared up at me through her thick rimless glasses, not buying a word of it.

"Mr.Foondoggy, it is our professional opinion and advice that every 50 year old man have this test regardless of medical history. But since you already have this condition in your family, we consider it imperative you have this procedure. Please make the appointment for this month."

Hmmmmm, generally I don't like the words, "this procedure," as related to almost anything unless it's completing a loan application.... for a lot of money.

Two weeks later I sat across the desk from my new Gastrointenologist, Dr. Ahmed Bahroodi, while he described in painfully clear detail exactly what he and his staff would be doing to me during, "this procedure."

"This very simple procedure, Mr.Foondoggy, serves to examine and video tape every inch of your large intestine to see if there are any conditions that need to be addressed. You, of course, will be awake and able to observe the entire process on a TV monitor (ASS-TV!!) and even ask questions if you'd like."

Oh, goody times two. A show & tell using my ass and large intestine as a Discovery Channel segment, "The Poop Chute Chronicles." I can just see my face as the camera pans around the exam table to film me as I ask the Doctor my simple question.

"Uh, Doctor Bahroodi?.... (Camera zooms in for a tight, head shot)...uh....when..are..you.... GOING TO TAKE THAT HUGE FUCKIN' THING OUT OF MY ASS??!!!"

For the next five days I would fret and worry over this terribly invasive and unspeakably uncomfortable act which I was allowing, all in the name of good health. I kept imagining false symptoms of illnesses that would prevent me from having the test. (TAPE WORM!!!!) All to no avail.

The night before the test I was instructed to prepare my system (plumbing) for the procedure. I would find out later that THIS was easily the worst part of the test. If you could get through this, the rest was day in the park. A dark and scary park with strange and ugly things,....but a day in the park nonetheless.

Since I had an early morning appointment, I was supposed to wake up in the middle of the night and drink about 2 quarts of some murky dishwater looking fluid that tasted like chalk. This stuff was so unsavory I almost hurled it up twice with involuntary gagging as I chugged it down. I've tasted some bad frat party punch in my day, but this swill was truly vile. Once it hit my guts it was like a gastronomic Disney attraction from hell called, "Foonie's Wild Toilet Ride." A real "E Ticket" for you older Mousekateers.

For the next four hours I would sit on the can alternating falling asleep and shitting my brains out. I suggest that for a guy who doesn't chew gum and do anything else, this is nearly impossibile. The liquid washed through my system like some internal tidal bore, flushing my pipes as if Mr.Roto Rooter himself was cleaning a path through my insides. The fact was, between the lack of sleep and being physically (literally) drained by the process, I arrived at the doctor's office feeling ten times worse than when I would leave.

The staff at the testing center was ridiculously cheery and upbeat at 7:00 am, considering the nature of the work they do. (Colons R US!) The nurses and lab techs were busy buzzing around exchanging chit chat about the upcoming Christmas holidays, not knowing I was on the verge of a severe panic attack. A young black nurse named Tali, who had a beautiful Caribbean accent, showed me into an undressing room that was brightly decorated and instructed me to put on a standard blue paper hospital gown, opening in the back,....of course. She told me I could leave my socks on since the operating room is kept cold. Thank God I thought, I am so embarrassed about my ugly feet and.....!!!!!!??? OPERATING ROOM!!!???? NOBODY SAID ANYTHING ABOUT NO STINKIN' OPERATING ROOM..........!!!!

Tali, who was a master of light conversation, tried to put me at ease. She asked me to get up onto a regular size hospital bed where she would take my vital signs, hook me up to a heart monitor and insert an IV for the liquid tranquilizer. Though she was very kind and obviously had done this hundreds of times, when she clicked on the heart monitor, it had a curiously zippy but ominous cadence, like the staccato snares of a Scottish funeral march.

"Gee Mr.Foondoggy," Tali teased me, "I've never seen so many freckles in my life,." as she tapped my arm to raise a vein. "Yeah, I got zillions of them," I offered, "probably in places you wouldn't imagine. By the way, that big vein you see there is the motherlode."

Tali looked up quizzically then plunged the small bore needle into the vein. "I've donated over 5 gallons of blood to the Red Cross outta that sucker."

"Really? That's very good of you Mr.Foondoggy. Ummm, you seem a bit apprehensive. Many men feel the same way you are feeling right now. We do dozens of these procedures every week. Everything will be all right, let me assure you." Oh I was feeling something all right, but it wasn't assured. Maybe it had to do with the twelve page waiver I'd just signed saying, "Oh yes, I really want this done to me and if, by chance, you happen to puncture my intestine causing me to go septic and die a horrible and painful death....nevermind, I didn't want to live after this anyway." I started eyeing escape routes.

Soon Nurse Judy Payne (PERFECT!!) came in to wheel me into the operating room. Nurse Judy was extremely cheerful, painfully so. She could tell I was ready to bolt right out of the bed so she put up the sides while we moved to keep me from jumping out. Dr. Bahroodi met us at the door of the room, fully decked out in his protective gear and face shield. He looked like he was about to be handling some radioactive waste materials. Nurse Judy hooked me up to the liquid Valium. I was told this would put me in a dream state where I could relax and observe everything, but wouldn't care (MUCH!!!) that someone had crammed a giant cattle prod with a camera up my ass. This was strangely comforting. Drugs to dull the senses and reduce fear?? What a novel idea! Nurse Judy told me to start counting backward from 30.

"30, 29, 28 ..............Whooooaaaaaaa, Nurse Jooody, I don't think we're in Kannnnsaaaas anymoooorree. This is some.... gooooood..... shiiiit."

"Yes Mr.Foondoggy, we hear that a lot from guys your age. Must be a cultural thing. Keep counting please." I continued feeling quite good, almost floating on a cloud of happiness, seemingly unconcerned by the sight of Dr.Bahroodi removing what appeared to be a 6 foot long black bullwhip out of a sterilization container. Waaaaaiittt a moonit? What was goin on here? "Nurse JOOOODY!!!! HEEEELPPP MEEEEEE."

The liquid Valium did exactly as they said, I was conscious but in a dreamlike state. I sensed something was happening to me but my mind kept wandering to things in my past, mostly about my teenage years and mostly about surfing.

I became aware I was staring at some strange tunnel on a big TV monitor. I kept imagining the tunnel was some big hollow wave at Gilgo Beach and I was riding it as if in slow motion. It looked endlessly long and unmakeable, and very ominous. A strange erie light lit the towering bumpy white flecked wall and in the distance there was only darkness. Suddenly I felt tremendous fear I would not make it to the end of the tunnel. I slowly inched forward, straining to go faster. A big bowling curve appeared and seemed to bend the wave in another direction. Terror struck me as I sensed the wall would collapse. I began to hyperventilate, cramming as much oxygen into my blood as I could, anticipating a long and painful hold down.

From somewhere outside my consciousness I could hear the heart monitor going off like an angry bee. Then I heard Nurse Judy talking to me very insistently, "Mr.Foondoggy, you must breathe, BREATHE Mr.Foondoggy, slowly, slowly now, relax, calm down, breathe deeply." In the background I could hear Dr.Bahroodi saying, "If he gets up to 180 (bpm) we'll have to remove the appliance and cancel the test. We just can't risk that heart rate." Jesus, an appliance!!?? It did feel like he had a refrigerator up there.

Nurse Judy continued to urge me to relax and breathe slowly. I became fixated on a pattern I saw on the tunnel wall. Where had I seen that before? Soon everything became a swirling sea of motion. This ride was over.

Almost immediately I could hear Nurse Judy saying, "That's good Mr.Foondoggy, we're bringing you out now, everything went just fine. How do you feel? Just wait and rest while we develop some film." Film?? What da??? Someone please tell me this was NOT some HMO porno shoot???!!

The effects of the Valium wore off quite fast and I cleared my blurry mind with the fact I was still in the operating room but apparently the procedure was over and, I WAS STILL ALIVE!!!! And....feeling quite good, until the humorless Dr.Bahroodi came into my field of vision holding four 5x7 full color pictures. Shots I found out later were made from the videotape of my procedure.

"Dr. Bahroodi gazed down over his bifocals with a look I could not read. Not smiling, not frowning. "Mr.Foondoggy........you have a fairly unique condition called ‘ Vascular Ectasia.'"

I KNEW IT!!!! SHIT, I'M FUCKED!!!!! I'M A DEAD MAN!!! PROBABLY ONLY HAD WEEKS TO LIVE!!!! Gotta call my goldplated lawyer and get my affairs in order. MrsFoon gets everything of course but I want to give the drums and boards and stereo to my nephews. WAIT, those ungrateful little bastards!!! NOT EVEN A BIRTHDAY CARD THIS YEAR!!!...........Forget it!!. I'm not giving them shit!! "Sell the drums....everything!!!! I don't CARE!!! I DON'T WANT TO DIE!!! I'm ‘m only 50...I'm too young to go. Please God, there is so much I want to do!!!! WHY ME!!!???"

Dr.Bahroodi could see from the thunderstorm of emotions raging across my face I was imagining the very worst. "Actually Mr.Foondoggy it's a minor condition where blood vessels of the intestine wall are somewhat discolored often looking like large freckles."

"Freckles!!!?? .................I've got Frickin' FRECKLES in my colon??!!!"

"Yes, Mr.Foondoggy. Here are some pictures we made to show you what they look like. There's really no danger from this condition but we'll keep the pictures in your file just to compare them to next time, in case they develop into something else."

I snatched the pictures out of Bahroodi's hands and stared at them. The first three looked like someone had taken a brownish-red can of spray paint and graffittied the wall of a whitish looking tunnel. The fourth one had me staring incredulously, blinking back my wonder and amazement. Quite clearly it showed the same graffiti artist had signed his masterpiece in freckle-ish forms that distinctly created the letters, "BK." From deep out of my past I heard the words, "I'll stick my board where the sun don't shine." A young man tends not to forget comments like these.

Dr.Bahroodi said, "You've a healthy looking colon Mr.Foondoggy. See you in two years."

Oh yeah, it's a date.

"That which is bitter to endure, may be sweet to remember." - Thomas Fuller

"And maybe not."
-Foon


Snow Signs

12/24/2000

Our familiar trip to the beach this week had an unfamiliar feel and a strange urgency after a stressfull week of work. We started out in a snow squall that quickly turned into a ministorm. Though the highways were treated with salt and just wet, some of our trip would be on the rural roads of Delaware. Untreated,they became somewhat snow covered so I dialed back the speed and had a good look at the stark white scenery as we rolled deep into the Delmarva Peninsula. Stocked with food, beverages and tunes, we were headed to the Bunker for Christmas.

Even at mid-day there was little traffic. As we traveled farther out into the country at times it seemed we were the only ones on the road for miles. The snow was coming down thick and quite heavy at times, turning the surrounding countryside into a winter wonderland.

Off Delaware's State Road 404, we could see old farmhouses faintly in the distance, nearly obscured by the blowing snow. Dairy cows and horses left in the fields appeared to be covered with white cotton blankets. The fields that were normally abundant in the summer with corn and soybeans were bare and flat, prone to clouds of blowing, drifting snow. Several houses already had their Christmas lights on and smoke could be seen coming out of chimneys around every turn. The entire tableau looked like something out of an Andrew Wyeth painting.

On the stereo MrsFoon played an endless series of christmas tapes including songs performed at the Radio City Music Hall Christmas show, Rock and Roll treatments of Christmas classics, stylish and moody jazz interpretations, and a quirky one called A Twisted Christmas II which included a song sung to the melody of Feliz Navidad, called "Police Stopped My Car," about a Christmas Eve sobriety checkpoint in the Barrio. (There's also, "Yellow Snow" to Let it Snow, "The Most Fattening Time of the Year" to It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, "Holidaze" to Purple Haze - you get the idea)

By time we pulled into Bunkerland we were in a most festive mood. The snow had stopped before we arrived but the winds had turned bitter cold. Air temps were in the mid 20s, windchills in the teens. Nevertheless, I decided to head for the beach for my afternoon stogie. I grabbed a logstarter and some broken 2x4s from a dumpster and walked toward the dune.

From the parking lot I followed a single set of footprints in the completely virgin snow all the way down to the high tide line where the snow stopped. I noticed the footprints were made by someone wearing wetsuit booties. At the shore's edge I noticed an imprint in the snow where a board had been placed down and someone had knelt down next to it, either to wax it, or attach a leash. The board appeared to be about 7'6".

I quickly cleared a small area of snow and set up my fire, lit up my cigar and sat on one of the pieces of wood. Since it was twilight, off to the West there was an amazing sunset that progressively deepened the purples, reds, vermillions and violets in the sky. Watching this moving spectacle, it was a while before I looked far up the beach to see a lone figure bobbing in the kneehigh waves. Every 10 minutes the figure would try for and catch a wave, stand, turn, travel 15 feet and the wave would close out. He would then paddle slowly out again to sit and wait.

I could only imagine what the stranger was experiencing and in a way I envied the stoke he must have to brave such harsh conditions though I doubt even great waves could ever get me to venture in the ocean on a day like that. He seemed deeply absorbed, gazing out to the ocean, rarely straying to look in toward the beach.

After I finished my cigar I realized my ass was frozen solid. The wind was cutting through the turtleneck, fleece shirt, hooded sweatshirt, down vest, jeans, gloves and wool watch cap I wore, like a hundred tiny ice picks. The fire was warm but you had to be almost sitting in it to feel it. I decided to leave it die out by itself. Picking up the piece of wood I was sitting on I scratched a message with a piece of charred wood from the fire.

About 30 minutes later nursing my first three fingers of whiskey amidst the warmth and cheer of the Bunker I could see the surfer from my balcony window walking up the beach in the dark. I knew from his walk it was my mystery neighbor, the guy who goes out in anything and rarely talks to me. He was drawn like a magnet to the light and warmth of the fire and I saw him linger there removing his gloves and warming his frozen hands over it.

He bent over and picked up the wood I'd left and read my message. Looking up, he gazed up and down the beach wondering where it came from. Eventually he looked up at my building which was totally dark except for our apartment and saw me silohuetted by the christmas lights of our tree looking back down at him. I raised my hand in greeting. Slowly he raised his hand and waved responding to and reciprocating my message:

"Merry Christmas, bro."
-Foon

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