Kidnap (and sodomy) can be painful – but make for better stories. By Chas Smith.
Masked men: scary/sexy depending on your viewpoint. Photo: Laurel
Sometimes we go on surf trips and our flights are all on time, our boards arrive un-dinged, the sun shines, the waves barrel just barely overhead and the locals smile at us while we are weaving through their barrels. When we come home we tell our friends and lovers all about it. We say, “Oh boy did I ever score. And the stewardess on the way home, she was brunette and leggy and wowza honk honk aaaahhhoooogaaahh and she totally wanted to make out with me.” And they listen, half interested, until the bit about the stewardess and then they roll their eyes deep inside their skulls. Perfection, you see, is boring. Perfection is fun in the moment but not a good story afterward and not even particularly memorable.
Because sometimes we go on surf trips and our flights catch fire and divert to Panama City, our boards don’t arrive, the sun either sizzles like the heat of hell or stays completely hidden, the waves tower and eat us alive or don’t show up and the locals pull machetes on us or try to shoot us, as we camp on the beach, because they know that white people turn into devils at night. And the stewardess on the way home is a fat man from Djibouti who insists on wearing shorts well above the knee. When we come home and tell our friends and lovers about it, when we say, “I spent seven days in a Balinese hospital because little amoebas decided to eat my intestines” their eyes go wide with fascination. Hardship, you see, is the stuff of legend. Hardship hurts in the moment but is a wonderful story afterward and will be remembered forever.
And so, on your next surf trip, don’t always take the easy way. Keep your eyes wide, looking for possible adventure. Is there a one legged man who tells of a secret wave far in the distance? Go to that secret wave! Is there a border to sneak across to get into a forbidden zone? Sneak! But don’t and I mean DO NOT try to create some hideous cliché and pass it off as amazing. Like, do not stay in a hostel and sit up smoking weed all night with the Danish bar manager. Do not drink the magic mushroom milkshake and dance under the moonlight. Do not go to a native village off the beaten path, come home and tell your friends and lovers, “The natives live so much more simply and, by extension, they are so much happier.” That is the most hideous of clichés. The natives are not happier. They yearn for high definition.
Yes, adventure is what makes a good story and adventure necessitates hardships that are met with aplomb and a can-do attitude. I once went surfing in Lebanon and got kidnapped by Hezbollah. That adventure has given me more wide-eyes, upon re-telling, than all of the perfect barrels I surfed in Baja Mexico. I have in fact never even spoken of the perfect barrels in Baja Mexico because who gives a fuck? Not you. Not anyone.