Lauren and I walked up the wooden stairs from the beach towards the shower. We'd just met in the surf - bonding over each others' boards and the common experience of being one of the only girls out on such a pretty day of surf. We'd started talking and quickly realised we had a lot of interests in common - I'd read some of her papers and had already blogged about one of her film projects called '31 days/31 ways' - so we thought we'd head in for a coffee and a good chat.
How awesome is meeting someone new in the surf, by the way!
Anyway, we walked up the stairs to the shower, chatting away excitedly about surfing, women, the ocean, uni, talking about how sometimes it can be hard being the only chick in the water, or one of only a few. We talked about how much we love surfing in this area, where there are a lot more women and girls than other places. We de-briefed on the crazy lineup that day and I told Lauren how I'd seen a guy shout at some learner who accidentally dropped in on him when he got caught up in the whitewash, and then surf right over him and his board. The violence of the man's response had seemed completely unnecessary given the chaotic nature of the busy break we were at at and the mellow-ness of the waves.
As we reached the showers, we split and stood either side of the concrete column. There was a guy crouched down in the bushes next to me (which I thought was weird) and as I turned on the water, he stood and blurted out,
Don't hit me with your board.
His words were blunt and accusatory. I turned around, expecting to see him smiling, making a joke, but he wasn't. He was scowling at me. I was confused and looked over at Lauren, who seemed to be confused too.
It's alright, I saw you there. I wasn't going to hit you.
He scowled at me and turned to face us,
Women have been running into me all my life. Hitting me with longboards, with trolleys, with cars...
His strange words were almost spat out. I looked back at Lauren whose face was incredulous - we were both thinking about our conversation a few minutes earlier. I laughed,
Well, I keep seeing people getting hit by guys on shortboards, so I don't think you need to feel targeted. Guys can be just as bad.
But he was fired up. I don't know why, and I don't know what his point was supposed to be. Lauren and I looked at each other again, bemused this time. It can't just have been us, something else must have happened to him that day.
Well what do you want men to do? Walk around in dresses?
He was almost visibly puffing up, pushing out his chest and stepping towards us, making no sense. In a different context, I might have felt frightened, but here and now, his behaviour was just odd. I was tempted to look around me to see if someone was filming this ridiculous exchange for Candid Camera or something -I was almost convinced it had to be a joke. I told Lauren I'd meet her in 10 minutes, and walked away, laughing, which I knew would wound his ego even more, but I just didn't know what else to do. As I departed I could hear him calling after me, carrying on but I didn't look back. Insane!
A few minutes later, I met Lauren at the cafe. She looked at me as I sat down,
Can you believe that guy? And just after that conversation too. He kept going after you left. He was crazy!
We talked about how strange it was, how aggressive the guy was and how interesting that it came right after our conversations about such behaviour. We laughed about it and decided we would both write about the incident, post on our respective blogs and link to each other, so make sure you check out her blog over at the gorgeous, Merseabeaucoup.
Lauren, it was SO great to meet you. Let's catch up again soon!