Self-Inflicted – Todd Stewart

From The Endless Bummer:

I wanted to call this post “The Ruinous Art of Surf Blogging” but I realized the qualifications would run deep, mostly blather about the use of the word art, and subsequent meanderings into over-blown over-confidence, the ability to score with the head (known as an English Goal) and probably ending up in a TED Talk about whether anything outside the act of riding a surf board on a wave can be be associated with surfing.  The last bit is the interesting bit, no matter how tired, and overly-accepted it is.  I say overly accepted because nearly everyone accepts the idea on principle, but few actually have the discipline to tow the line.  See, I just shaved my head.  I had this long, often gross, sometimes bushy often greasy, always scalp-destroying mess of hair and I shaved it all off a couple weeks ago.  Before I shaved it all off, a couple months ago, on an unseasonably warm late winter morning, I was walking my son down the street after his swim class.  I was wearing a beanie cap as I had lost my hair-band and I wanted my hair out of my eyes and the beanie was in the car and hair-bands were no where to be found, and I was sweating since it was unseasonably warm and I was wearing a beanie cap.  And up walks this guy.  Mid 50s, maybe 60s, with some hair that had been dyed back to a more youthful dark brown, wearing a yellow cut off-sleeve t-shirt and sporting a similarly browned goatee.  And he walks up next to us and says “cute kid.”  I look at him.
 “Listen, mind if I ask you a question? I don’t want to offend you.” Ok.  “Well, I don’t want you to take offense.”  Ok.  “But see, why are you wearing that hat?  I don’t want to offend you.  I’m a retired police officer, and I used to see these guys with these do-rags coming through all the time.  I mean, it’s such a warm day, are you cold?”  No, in fact it’s hot.  I wish I weren’t wearing this hat, but I’ve got all this hair (lift hat, show him hair.) It’s probably just a fashion thing.  It’s fashionable.  This last bit gets the retired cop’s goat and he nods and smiles what I can only describe as a deeply self-congratulatory smile,”Yep, yep that’s it!” “Well, thanks! Hope I didn’t offend you!” And he walks off.  I think, in the end, I am mildly offended. Then, the other day, Mark Cunningham comes to town.  Yeah, Mark Cunningham, one of those truly cool surf guys that don’t have the taint of surf guy to them.  A hero kind of guy.  A guy that could be a hero.  And I get some chances to hang out with him.  A few chances.  I get a chance to film him.  I get a chance to surf with him, have dinner with him, hang around him.  Here is a guy one wants to hang around.  Maybe siphon off some quality mojo and knowledge. But for one reason or another, some part star-alignment, some part ineptitude (on the part of myself and others) some part simple priorities, some part complex ones, almost every opportunity gets blown.  Mark Cunningham leaves.  Boy did that throw me for a loop.  On top of a series of other recent seemingly adverse life happenings, the whole manner of my inability to talk to hang out with this guy really bummed me out.  And then this other guy from the New York Times writes an article about how the Saturdays surf shop guys are poseurs (or at least he intimates it heavily) and the author doesn’t even surf.  Wackadoodle.  So to recap the series of events:
1. Ex-cop, sleeveless shirt guy makes fun of an inopportune beanie hat.
2. Super star surf icon guy comes and goes, presenting a blown opportunity.
3. Seemingly adverse life things happen.
4. The authenticity of  an irrelevant (for me) surf shop is called into question by a non-surfer.
This all leaves me feeling very funny.  Very at-the-mercy of elements outside of nearly anything I respect and care about.  Why?  I don’t know.  Maybe it’s because I wished I’d asked the ex-cop why he was wearing that lame sleeveless shirt. Maybe because I feel let-down by the shallowness of my own iconoclasm.  Maybe because adverse life things really have happened (or maybe because I feel guilty for being upset about those things).  And maybe because I actually took time to think about something as goofball as an article about surfing in the New York Times.  Anyhow, I haven’t written anything very personal on here in a while and figured it may be time. So I refer you to the first sentence.
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