California Dreaming

To read other stories from CALIFORNIA DREAMING click on the underlined titles below.

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A Surfers Gift

by D. "Darteo"Sommese

Once, in our time, not very long ago, there lived a remarkable surfer. He was young, gifted, and simply incredible. If you were too quick to judge, you might think he was a bit stuck-up. At first glance he seemed to have that "I'm-more-special-than-you-are" attitude, that can be so annoying to those who feel "less- than-special". Actually, the he was such a good surfer, most of that was just overlooked. It's funny how people will pamper the talented until they become spoiled beyond redemption. Scoot was his name. It was given to him when he was young because of the funny way he would "scoot" up and down the face of the waves, like those water insects you can find skating on pond or marsh. He had an outrageous command of his sport, or Art, if you prefer. He could fly and slide and glide with grace on any wave. He did all this with an economy of motion and effort that baffled the eye and confounded the mind. His surfing style mixed fury with grace and "blew minds" up and down the beach.

One day I saw him out there in the pack. He had already eaten the lion's share of the waves for that day. There was a lull between sets. We sat there, each in his own thoughts, contemplating the silence of the deep. A wind picked up. Just one gust really, skipping through the line up, playing tag with the sea gulls. I looked over, and there was Scoot sitting up on his board, his back arched as he sniffed the air. I looked at his face. A strange awareness seemed to overtake him. He turned abruptly and paddled south, away from the pack and sat there by himself, just waiting. What was he waiting for? A wave hadn't broken there all day. Then, out of nowhere a beautiful perfect wave began to build and was heading right for Scoot.. It was a monster from the deep, a long lost friend. A gift from the sea. Scoot was ready to accept that gift. The perfect wave, summoned from the depths just for him. The sea-wolves in the pack watched this. Their envy forced them devour their own hearts. Two guys broke loose from the pack and began scratching over to where Scoot was, knowing full well that they were too late and time had run out. The glory of the moment had its own magnetic attraction. Possessed, compelled, they had to move closer, hoping some glory would splash over on to them.

The moment belonged to Scoot. The wave was a massive bowl peeling both left and right. He took off late and went right, scooting past the dangerously closing lip. From there he screeched straight down, heading right to hell, executing a flawless, fin-snapping bottom turn that shot him, like a rocket, up the face of the wave. What we saw next was pure ballet, a magical water dance invented by the Gods. Scoot left long gentle, loving arches of wake across the face of his Goddess. Then, like Jeckel turned Hyde, he began some wild erratic mad man's dance, smacking the lip of the wave over and over with his board, mercilessly. It seemed like he was literally trying to beat the wave into submission. To my amazement, the wave did submit, instead of ending and closing out, it formed a perfect tube, a perfect tunnel of glass-green water, the right of passage, every Surfer longs for. With a smile and a bow, he passed into the lime green time tunnel.

Scoot came spitting out of the tube with a vengeance. What happened in there, out of our sight, we may never know. Like a jilted lover, wild with anger, the wave turned from submissive to deadly. It flapped and bumped in great arches of mustang fury, but the rider remained calm. Like an ardent lover, he used the awkward, twitching and off-time motion of his partner to his own advantage. He attained satisfaction, the climax was near. The wave had reached the end- time, it could no longer exist. With one last great effort, it heaved upward and fell like Niagara, crashing, transforming itself into white foam. Scoot merely levitated over the foam, or at least it seemed that way. He jumped off his board in ankle deep water, elevated like Christ, being delivered into heaven. He bent over or was it a bow? No, he was bending over to undo the Velcro fastener that connected him to his board. He stood up and looked over the ocean one last time as he wound his leash around his board. I saw him smile, a long last smile. Unlike poker, you can leave this game after a winning hand.

He wasn't an easy guy to get to know. I don't know if I ever did get to know him. He was friendly enough, and polite when he wanted to be. He always made sure he said good-by and gave a healthy hello, and anyone within earshot of his conversation was a welcome participant. He gave all this, but there was something of him he never let you have. Something that was all his. Something he wouldn't, or couldn't share. It was this "something" that raised the hackles on-the backs of the un-anointed. They wanted this special "something", or they wanted what was "special" about him. I could never figure out what it was for sure. But I have seen that "want" turn to hurt, and that "hurt" turn again to hate and hate turn into unadulterated green-eyed envy. I don't know how much any of this ever reached him or hurt him. I always felt he was insulated from this, or protected if you will. The envy was their problem, not his.

It could be that the rest of us tend to mythologize the gifted. His reserve might have been no more than a shyness or a vain attempt at being humble. Can you hate someone for not giving you the love and attention you require? I don't know. What I do know is, this was the last time I saw Scoot well. I watched him that day, after that incredible triumph. The sun was raging on the horizon, spraying its fiery colors on the clouds and the ocean. It reflected on the windows that faced the sea and on the funny mirrored sunglasses the surfers like to wear. It was a symphony of color and it played mainly for him. I watched that long last look at the ocean. Does it gain meaning in retrospect? It's very hard to say. I watched him turn on his heel and double-skip up the stairs heading for the parking lot and the warmth of his solar heated automobile. It was a day like any other day, but it wasn't. It was the last day for Scoot. Oh, to reach those heights and soar like an eagle! But life is full of so many unexpected turns. "To reach for glory and win it... just once!" I ask. It seems so close sometimes. What is the price for such glory? I ask the eternal question. What is the price?

Scoot is with me every day now. He is in my mind, because he no longer inhabits the physical plane. He came to me in a dream one night and asked if he could surf with me. I said, "I would be honored". He said, "I will always be with you". I asked, "Why me?". He said, "Because you noticed". I said, "I'm older now, I don't know how much time I have left". He said, "There's plenty of time".

I never tell this story to anyone. What would they think? But he is always with me now , my constant coach, an ever-present inspiration. When I'm out there alone, and no one is watching, I do have moments of glory. I can soar like an eagle and I pull off moves I never knew I could do. Then I can see Scoot smile. I know its him, sharing his gift. 

To read other stories from CALIFORNIA DREAMING click on the underlined titles below.

"Queenie and the Racoon" "Ships Passing in the Night" "Summer Journey" "A Surfers Gift" "Volunteer Memories" "HOME" Copyright D. "Darteo" Sommese 2017

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