This morning I paddled out at Wategos - it was small, but it was a spectacularly sunny winter day and every so often a nice set would come through that made the whole exercise worth it.
So after some conversation and consultation with the old mal crew on the beach, I went out...
I got a few waves and it was nothing special, but it was fine. I was just cruising and enjoying the day, blah, blah, blah. The old guys would paddle past me and take waves, but whatever, it was fine.
Then a nice set came through. I decided they could kiss my arse and I was getting me some of that. There was a guy behind me, but he'd just come back out and he knew it was my wave so he backed off a bit. I turned and paddled harder and just as I felt the wave catch me, I also felt a "helping hand" on my foot, giving me a push into the wave.
Yes, that's right. THE GUY PUSHED ME INTO A WAVE THAT I WAS MORE THAN CAPABLE OF GETTING ON MY OWN THANK YOU VERY MUCH, SIR!!
I mean seriously. How many dude-strangers do you reckon he's pushed into waves? I'm guessing none.
I was enraged. Enraged! And embarrassed. And perplexed.
And all of this was going through my head as I jumped up. As I picked my bumpy, wind-blown line I was confused and ashamed and worried that I'd have to talk to him again and so I gave in and twisted my board off the wave and just sat there. A few guys were paddling towards me, heading back out to the lineup. Had they seen that? Is that what they were smiling about? No, of course not, but I was so humiliated!
And yeah, I know, I know - get over it Rebecca! And I have, but at the time...
I stayed wide and further down the line as I couldn't face that man. I know he was trying to be nice, but I was conflicted between that knowledge and my own embarrassment and outrage. Why did he think I needed help when I clearly didn't? Why? Am I that bad? No, no I'm not. I hold my own out there and it's not like they were even challenging waves either. Ugh!
So I stayed out there, semi-weirded out by the whole thing. And then it got worse... I got another wave and kooked it and as I tumbled in the whitewash, my vest broke.
So let me clarify a couple of points here to really paint the picture;
1. I wear a vest that zips up the front and it was the zip that broke. The whole thing split apart, all the way from my hips up to my throat, where it (bizarrely) stayed attached. So there I was lying in the water with the vest floating up around me, splaying out from my neck, totally exposing my chest and abandoning its task of offering me some protection from the cold water.
2. Those who know me know that I have, um, what some might refer to as, um, an ample bosom. So as I climbed back onto my board, vest flying open, I was further mortified to find one of my boobs had detached itself from my swimmers and sat proudly revealing itself to the entire lineup. Well, hey boys!
So I sat, having been PUSHED INTO A WAVE by some stranger, enduring further humiliation by revealing myself to the all-dude lineup via a faulty zip.
And suddenly I started laughing. What else was there to do. And anyway, it was funny.
So I sorted out some form of dignity, paddled in and walked up the beach to my car looking like a total poser with her cleavage provocatively staring out from a weirdly (un)zipped vest.
"It's broken!" I explained to a couple of bug-eyed locals who promptly fell into fits of laughter.
Then I had a further comedy section of getting the thing off over my head before I could finally fix it.
And then, screw it, I went back out again. What did I have left to lose? And, after all, it was still sunny.
As I walked back down the beach the guy who had 'helped' me into that wave was walking up, smiling at me,
"Did you feel me give you that last little burst?"
I wanted to say 'yeah and there was no need you fool!' but I didn't. I did the polite, understanding and grown-up thing, and uncomfortably said,
"Yeah. I did."
"I was worried you'd think I was trying to pull you off?" he laughed.
"Nah, I knew..."
...and I walked away, knowing he was trying to be nice, but hating that sometimes you just have to bite your tongue.
(And checking that my vest wasn't creating a scene!)