When you’re a writer and need to get stuff off your chest, you have to write it down. Normally I don’t bother sharing much of the musings about so-called “famous” people, they deserve their privacy – plus shoots, in Hawaii you surf every day with someone who’s had some fleeting (or legendary) moment of fame via surf. But when that someone’s being a douche, they should be called out on it, regardless of who they are. And sure, every surfer has had their douche-y moments in the water (some are conscious of it, some not so much), but this incident was particularly entertaining. 2015 was the *gulp* 30th anniversary of the first time I ever went surfing. So to have Laird Hamilton gift me with this quote was pretty special. Here’s to purging for the new year!
“You never saw me on a short board?! Then you just started surfing!” –Laird
Surfing Hanalei Bay. It’s a pastime that some on Kauai only partake in on occasion, as it’s so often over-crowded and a bit agro. Today was one of those mellow days with fun-high surf, a relatively sparse crowd, and waves for all.
Winter fixture Laird Hamilton was out. It was early in the season and the first time I’d noticed him since his return from summering in the ‘Bu (yeah, I actually wrote that).
I was surprised to see he wasn’t on a SUP. He looked like a kid, sitting on a board he could actually sink, and I thought it refreshing (not to mention he’d be less able to hog all the waves). So when he paddled near me, after an aloha exchange, I mentioned, “I’ve never seen you on a short board.”
His mood altered split second. “Well then…”, he tisked, “you just started surfing.” He repeated it a little louder and a little more annoyed, “You never saw me on a short board?! Then you definitely just started surfing!”
Wait, um, huh… waht just happened? I waited for a crack of a smile. Nope. He wasn’t joking.
My thought process went something like: Is he thinking I think he’s never short-boarded? Does he think I never saw North Shore? LOL. Did I accidentally threaten him in some way? Is he really so cocky as to tell a chick that she must be new to surfing because she never saw him in the water on a short board. Is this the best example of inductive reasoning gone awry?! My mind was reeling with questions!
He actually repeated it a few more times. Then went on and on about himself but at that point I couldn’t make out what he was saying. I got all caught up in the energy of the incident… this massive ego… becoming palpable… expanding way beyond the sphere of mere mortals. Maybe someone drank a lil’ too much Laird Superfood Coffee that morning?
He paddled inside, caught a wave, and the vibe out in the water mellowed.
When he made it back out, he took the opportunity to engage a few of the local guys in the pack and went off on some tangent about people who were trying to put him down. He brought up some guys who did this when he was body surfing the other day. “I was going to go in and get my fins and a french fry box… and surf it better than them.” The guys in the water kissing his okole joined in: “Yeah, yeah!” “I would have paddled in and gotten an old door” “Yeah, and beveled down the edges” “Yeah, yeah” “That would show them!” “Yeah!!!”
It wasn’t as if Laird was directing this all at me, yet it was obvious my comment – tweaked in his head – inspired the loud discussion that I was supposed to overhear. Bulleh 101. All I could think was, Girlfriend, you know better, don’t you mess with the mind of a narcissist.
After his third wave, Laird paddled back out towards me, and at that point I had to laugh it off and said, “I dunno dude, I was just saying I’ve surfed out here with you like 100 times and I’ve never seen you on a short board. That’s all. Not sure where you decided to go with that…”.
He gave me a pondering stare. Started paddling away. Then turned, paused, and said, “Ohhh, it was a complement.”
I guess I was either with him or against him.
“Uh, well, basically” I replied.
And he smiled…
So, my special quote may not have been North Shore-worthy, but it was close. And whenever there’s a good excuse to include any reference to the flick you really shouldn’t pass on the opportunity: “Burkhart you bastard!”