Friday, November 4, 2011

A "Cool Dude Moment" - Can't We All Just Get A Long...Board?

So, I’m sitting on the pier, watching the surfers below me tear up the waves. It was a good day for surfing, and the sun was out early. Sets were decent and the water was smooth.
     This spot on the pier, along with a Starbucks nearby, are my “go to” locales where I take my sketch pad and write ideas and concepts for my Dude and Dude comic strip (See ).  There’s no better place to pick up some humorous material about dudes than by hanging in the midst of them…dude.

     Anyway, on this particular day there was good mix of long boarders and short boarders. All types of dudes catching their fair share of waves. Everyone was in harmony with each other and it created good energy and a cool vibe. I was glad I was there, even if the cartoon ideas were not going to flow that day. 
    There were young groms, old souls, and even a guy on a throwback, plain colored long board doing headstands. Yes, headstands! Some rides that went for 50 feet or more. He got hoots from the water and the onlookers standing next to me on the pier. Yes, I hooted. It was impressive, and I soon found myself actually following him in the water to see what he might try next. Hanging ten wasn’t out of the question for this longtime surfer; and I think, if there had been a girl swimming in the water nearby, he might have tried tandem. He was a standout. 
     There was another standout in the water below me that day, but not because of his surfing skill. On the contrary, it was his lack of skill that made him a standout. He was an older, pale man in his fifties, if not older, wearing a bright blue wetsuit and lying awkwardly on an equally bright blue soft board (both rented for sure). He was flailing in the whitewash, trying his best to catch what I believed to be his first wave ever. He had no skills, no timing, no sense of direction, and when he fell off the board it was quite a scene watching him track it down (no leash) and try to remount before another wave came crashing down, separating him from the board once again. He was a fish out of water, or non-fish in water.
     I had just started to feel sorry for him when a great moment happened, a “Cool Dude Moment” in my book.
     Following another money ride, headstand guy spotted “pops” attempting, unsuccessfully, to catch any water that moved and, instead of laughing him off, headstand dude paddled over and began to talk with him.
     You couldn’t hear the conversation from where we were, but you didn’t need to hear what was being said to know what was going on. The body motions and hand gestures of headstand guy were plainly giving out instructions to pops in an attempt to help him possibly achieve his objective that day - the chance of actually becoming one with a wave long enough to stand up and be counted. To accomplish something he had maybe planned to do for a lifetime. To check one more thing off his bucket list. Reach the ultimate goal in ocean waves…surf. 
     Dude, it was an amazing sight to watch two people who, by appearance, age, tan lines, and the social barriers we tend to put up far too often, come together in one spirit and with one purpose.      
      Headstand dude, who had been showing off most of the morning with his check me out maneuvers, had now decided to take the backseat and help pops go from accountant (look at me labeling, my bad!) to surfer!
     Maybe headstand guy reflected back on his first attempts to surf, or maybe he was just trying to make the water around him, and everyone, safe from the on slot of man and board that continually flew dangerously in their direction. Whatever his motivation was, his efforts and instructions began to payoff.

Soon, I, and most of the guys around me, had forgotten about all the good surfing going on. We didn’t care who was ripping it up out there, or who the next big name was. We were watching eagerly and silently cheering for pops! Go Big Blue!
         It took time, and repeated failure, but, with the unyielding efforts of daddy-o (he needed a cooler name), and the encouragement and instruction of his newfound surf coach, he actually stood up on the board, rode for 30 feet, raised his hands in the air as if he had just conquered Everest (which he had), and shook his fists in triumph at the people on the beach.
     We actually cheered from the pier.
     He then wiped out violently trying to look back and thank his mentor for helping him accomplish what he probably had determined was not going to happen that day, or any other day. He couldn't wait for the ride to end, he had to look back right then and say with just the look on his face, “Thanks, dude!”
     Daddy-o pushed his board back out in the water and stroked over waves with pride. He had a new look and swagger to his paddling and he drove his arms in the water pulling him further away from the shore.
     “He’s got the surfing bug now!” I thought. “He’s heading out for more.”
     No, he was paddling hard, but not for more waves, he was trying to reach his mentor as fast as his arms would let him. A stranger just minutes ago who had bonded with him in the waves.
     It was a memorable scene. Old and young, skilled and unskilled coming together…dude and dude!
     As he neared headstand guy, again, I couldn’t hear what was being said, but I knew, we all knew what was going on. Daddy-o then reached up and gave headstand guy an energetic high five, falling off his board in the process. Still more to learn about balance.
     A wave came along, scooped up the unleashed board and carried it to the shore.
     Headstand guy then scooped up Daddy-o on the front of his board and gave him a free ride to the beach. They talked for a bit and then Daddy-o headed up on the sand and headstand guy went back out in the water. Both were now on familiar ground, but for a minute or two that morning, all differences aside, they shared common ground. A surf lesson for us all. It was a “Cool Dude Moment.”

     Share a "Cool Dude Moment" in your life with us all.
     Or, better yet, go out and create a new one today. Break down some walls. Hang with someone different. Exchange valuable insight with each other.

The greatest thing one dude and do for another is to help them to stand!

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Keith Poletiek is the cartoonist and creator of Dude and Dude, a daily comic strip Distributed at by Universal Uclick for United Feature Syndicate. It is also seen daily on the comics pages of




  1. I've been the punk local, sort of. I've also been the dangerous daddy-o. Even in my punk local younger daze .... I was never a great surfer. Didn't matter. I was out there. Then for a variety of reasons, I went nearly 20 years without surfing. When I decided to pick it up again (a surfer looks at forty), I ventured out into choppy east coast surf with an old tried and true 9 1/2 foot single fin Huntington longboard. The board itself was easily much older than any one of the kids in the lineup. It had been in my garage for 20 years. It's single fin design and years of fiberglass patches topped off with my very rusty limited skill set made me one unpopular dude that day.

    I looked every bit the part of a first time surfer. "Damn" I thought, "I was never this bad ... was I?". I knew the rules at least .... I didn't create much of hazard ... didn't steal anyone's waves. I picked my waves and tried to get back into it after so many years. It was one of the toughest mornings of my life.

    I quit after only 2 hours. I was worn out and had only managed limited success. Still, it had started to come back to me and I knew I would be back again.

    While packing up my truck, one of the kids, maybe 15 years old, walked by and said "You'll be okay. You damn sure need a new board though.". At least he didn't call me "pops". I took that as something of a compliment.

  2. Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I'll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon.

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