Surfing was the only reason I bid to work a Maui flight but first? Passengers.
And Maui passengers are like cruise boat tourists.
There was a woman on my flight this morning, more than a little overweight, scraggly gray hair and snaggle-toothed. She did, in fact, remind me of the witch I just hung over the porch railing at my sister’s new town home.
She smiles– a surprisingly uninhibited smile given her seven remaining teeth. It’s kind, warm.
I’m immediately reminded that this seeming inability to stop my judgmental nature is one of the reasons lately I seem as popular as bell-bottomed corduroys.
I smile at her, brightly.
She hands me a note:
If I should be in pain and unable to speak to tell you so, please contact my son at–
“Um, we’re about to fly over the ocean, dear. What exactly are you taking for the pain?”
“I took an Oxycontin this morning–30 mg…two Valium…one Aleve…and if you could bring me some water it’s time for me to take a Vicodin.”
I settle onto her armrest and pat her hand. “Honey, only if I can join you.”
The man across the aisle rattles his rocks glass at me.
Now, unless that’s an accompaniment to Rumba down the aisle in my Jimmy Choos, I’m going to say to him what I say to my impish little niece. I stand up, lean over and smile.
“Use your words.”
Then I bounce up the aisle because I’ve better things to do — much — none of which includes refilling the glass of a mute with bad manners.
When we land in Maui, I have Max, a 20-something surfer, waiting for me.
I met him last week when I crested up to the shallows in Kihei and hopped off my board to walk it in, landing right on a patch of mutherf– vanna, aka urchin. It felt like shards of glass piercing my left toe, a contortion I could not hide from locals in the know.
It was Max to the rescue.
He drove me the 3 miles or so back to the hotel, a distance I generally run. It was pure torture shoving my battered foot into heels for the flight back. And here I am again.
Surfing with Max.
Maybe. Unless he has to work. I’m not sure where he works given that long, flaxen blond hair, that buttery skin…
We ARE going to surf. Never mind that my local hero is half my age. Yes, I know what the road to hell is paved with.
It’s true as we enter the winter months, there are few waves on the south side of the island where the hotel is located.
Surfline shows Kihei is calm as a lake.
If I want some literal motion in the ocean and Max is working, I may have to rent a car and drive to the North Shore.
You just got an image of “Jaws” didn’t you?
And because you’re a savvy traveler, you know I’m not talking about the mechanical shark at Universal Studios. I’m talking about a big wave surf spot on the North Shore for the likes of Laird Hamilton.
You’re wondering, “Is she that good?”
Oh, hell no. But in the absence of being sandwiched between 500-thread-count and warm skin I’ve discovered the necessity of taking up a hobby. A dangerous one.
SURFING’S A BITCH
Why did I pick surfing, an obvious qualifier for the most unattractive sport?
That form-fitting layer of black neoprene shows every curve, lump and bump, depending on what you are or are not blessed with.
The salt water instantly erases hours of hair and make-up while sucking the moisture out of every cell like a gecko on a sunlamp. It filtrates your sinuses, resulting in an uncontrollable outflow at the most inconvenient times.
For a girl who never dove into a layover pool in front of her crew, I’m about as out of place as a French fry on the beach. There can only be one reason I ever got into surfing. I’m ashamed to admit, you’re right.
It was him.
Not Max. Him. The one who ended it like a bad movie.
Embarrassing at this age, like admitting I ate paste in first grade because Timmy liked it. But that day he came out of the water with his board tucked under his arm just to plant a salty kiss on me, something happened. Co-mingled with new love, the lore of surf grabbed me.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t long after that we fell apart like the waves after a summer storm.
While he was getting back with his ex-girlfriend, I was taking my first surf lesson in Honolulu. The day he slipped an engagement ring on her finger, I was turtling under wave after wave at San Onofre, cursing under my breath.
In hindsight, perhaps “Bitch“ hadn’t been intended for Mother Ocean that day.
And when they said their vows, I was finding the sweet spot on my new Stewart board between pearling and planing (Of course it matches my wetsuit– a darling Billabong number with pink detailing).
One day, riding the shoulder of the ocean to shore, surfing became mine.
When I’m not flying to the islands, I wedge my Stewart longboard into my old convertible Mercedes and head down PCH, my arm lain across its back to keep it from bucking in the wind. This takes some effort.
In your 40s, the recovery time for surfing is quadrupled, much like drinking (another vice I had to give up– kicking and screaming), much like everything. My shoulders ache like I chopped a cord of wood with a dull hatchet. Tendonitis has set into my right forearm and stubbornly refuses to leave.
Sort of like thoughts of him.
One would think with the male to female surfer ratio being something like 10-1 another man would have planted a salty kiss on my lips by now. Unfortunately, the types that tend to befriend me on the water look like Drew Carey in a wetsuit.
Except for Max.
The call light over Snaggle-tooth lights up. She’s waiting for her water. Rocks is still rattling. Someone grabs my right forearm (Owwww…).
An anxious passenger points to the crying baby across from her.
“This is first class. Can’t you do something?”
I return with a pair of ear plugs.
I can tell this is not at all satisfactory as I hand them to her with a smile and bounce up the aisle.