Come on, Undefined! Move your bloomin’ arse!*
Quandary: How to categorize this activity we do, this communion with, this union between, this time spent upon, beneath (or whichever requisite prepositional elbow word used to marry nouns and verbs you choose) the ocean? Sport? Lifestyle? Experience? Religion? Spirituality?
The number of opinions skirting this question are as many and as varied as there are surfers to think upon the question. This is to be expected in an activity that draws the fiercely independent and is itself independent in nature. It is this nature that makes surfing such a challenging business environment to gauge.
As the question of how to categorize surfing continues to lap the track, certain opinions, like racehorses, begin to nose ahead. While the neon, silk-argyle garbed napoleon jockeys, wail on the hindquarters of the thoroughbreds and the rabble in the stands scream for their favorite steed, high above the stands, in the sky terrace, sitting in millionaires row sipping martinis behind sleek shades and parlay bets, are the high-stakes gamblers, the ones who stand to lose most should the dark horse, long-shot “Undefined” take the blue ribbon.
This is hardly a possible outcome. After all, there are mechanisms, customs, veritable institutions in place to absorb such vagaries, to direct the flow of the race toward the best possible outcome (for the high-stakes rollers). Behind the scenes, hedge bets have been placed, moldy hay has been tucked into bales and fed to unsuspecting hopefuls, and proper training and nutrition have been strategically gifted.
A conversation in the upper yards:
Behind Von Zipper sunnies, speaking through a smirk so firm, so hard, so tow-in 8-pack stud, it’s near a snarl, Industry speaks: “Really, only ‘Lifestyle’ and ‘Sport’ have a chance. Ya ken?”
Floppy hat pulled low over aviators tinted yellow to hide dark socket rings, pockmarked face from retentive puerility, mumbling unintelligibles: “Suresure, yesyes, I’ll scribble that bit down, hey. I’ll take it straight to the linguistic HEIGHTS! To the motherlovin’ EDGE, mate! Will give it a vodka clean-up, hey, and down the gullet! Wash it down with juice of lacquer, hey, mate, AYE! Print, online, video, you name it, the rabble will drink this shite down!”
Commodity Feminism sashays up, all spray tan and saline swells beneath foxy girly-woman, mixed-message massage oil slick silk power-print and create-your-own fashionista footwear in time to hear the exchange. She lifts her pinky (foregoing the raised eyebrow as she has “just had a botox-collagen sesh, babe”): “My betsh on ‘Lifeshtyle’ shweety.”
Von Zip 8-pack bellows “SPORT!” and jabs an elbow in Floppy Hat’s ribs, who foams green peckish desire in Commodity Feminism’s general direction.
Swaggering Bukowski, all eau de Burroughs and dirt-of-the-road, slumps forward, fiddles with his chest hair through precise holes in his paper thin undershirt while sucking on untrimmed mustache. He pushes up his Raen eyewear to a head band and sniffs: “Freesurfer.”
The original three guffaw like a pack of hyenas but the race has begun and all eyes turn to the track…
*Title references Ms. Doolittle at the Ascott Races in My Fair Lady.
(This fiction brought to you by exhaustion and too many late nights in a row.)