We are ocean people now. Not on-the-beach ocean people, but six miles away which is the closest we have been in our lives. Previously we were foothill and mountain people; people who lived among pine trees and shady places. Now, we’re in an open place where little obstructs your vision except buildings, and shade on a hike is almost unheard of.
Still, there is the ocean…and surfers who have a whole glossary of terminology to describe everything from waves, surf conditions and apparel to non-surfers, wanna-be surfers and equipment. Falling off your board is pearling if you fall off the nose, bogging if you fall off the back; parts of a wave can be the barrel, shoulder, lip or crest while wave conditions can be mushy, massive or ankle biters. Surfers, body boarders and beach people might be dudes, wahines, Bettys, Barneys, kooks, shredders, quimbys, Jakes, or the dreaded shoobie. There are terms to describe equipment such as leash, stick, wettie and boardies; terms to describe performance (shred, slash, rip, deck-check, bail.) There is even slang to describe what you did on your stick and how it felt (akaw, amped, pitted, axed, gnarly, stoked). But, in this Technicolor language, there doesn’t seem to be a term for the last ride of the day.
I asked a surfer what he called the final wave of his day, sure that surfers had some colorful, amazing word for the last ride just before you paddle in to stand under the shower and take off your salty wettie. The last wave before you pack up your stick and go home. The man I asked was fortyish and looked like he probably surfed every day of his life until he grew up and became a financial planner who surfs either after or before work every chance he gets. He looked puzzled and finally said with a question in his voice, “It’s called…uh, the last wave?”
None of the surfing dictionaries (yes, they exist) have such a term. Maybe there isn’t one because surfers never want there to be a last wave. They will be back tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, testing themselves, testing the waves. Maybe there is no term for the last ride because surfers simply become Gandalfs: white-haired, wet-suited dudes who ride the waves forever. I’m not sure if they have a term for women who ride the waves for eternity
I may be an ocean-loving, beach combing, non-surfing hodad, but I think we need an addition to the surfing dictionary. Something to tell your fellow surfers that you’re leaving now, be back tomorrow? Maybe something like, “Hey dudes, wave out!” or “Wavadios, I’m gone.” A term to describe the bittersweet end of one thing; the promise of return--the last wave of the day.
I write for a newspaper. I write to tell stories that might otherwise be forgotten. I write to process my world..