I didn’t hear a peep in reply from my comrades who, in my Red Bull testosterone heightened state, I in reference to thought “Bastards!”. Because I was convinced they were still sleeping. Of course they weren’t but ignorance is . . . irrational aggression? Anyway, I made one last attempt at rousing them by sending one a photo of the conditions, which I’d later learn didn’t work, and strapped on the boardies. While wandering tentatively down the beach, board in hand, I couldn’t help thinking the fact I was completely alone, except for the occasional beach walker, and the waves were powerful rendered my choice a mistake. I threw myself among the shifting seaweed and disconcerting underwater shadows regardless. The first two waves which came through as I paddled out were the best, albeit the biggest, yet I dodged them. Remember, I’d not slept in 24 hours by this point. The old senses were a little rubbed raw. For all I knew it wasn’t actually that huge, and a great white hadn’t just brushed my leg. When I saw a fin my brain said ‘dolphin’ but my gut said ‘shark’ so that was it: I paddled straight for the nearest wave, stood up, rode it as far as I could standing then laid down and paddled my arse off with my legs in the air. Then emerged casually from the water and walked back up the beach as an elderly couple watched me with interest.
The camp site was confusing when I returned. It was empty. It became more confusing when three surfers returned with pleased looks on their faces, compared to the experience I’d just suffered mostly on my own account. They’d got good waves, the bastards, and I was incredulous. Time for breakfast. And the only problem with that, especially for me because the only thing keeping me going after more than 24 hours without sleep was a constant intake of energy in any form, was two of the ‘bastards’ had brought girlfriends with them. Which, even at a festival in which things like manners and personal hygiene can go by the wayside a little, meant toe-tapping while waiting for these girls to do whatever it is that takes them 30 to 45 minutes in the bathroom. If anyone can explain this timeless conundrum please comment below. She had a curly bob of blonde hair, freckle speckled nose, yellow yet straight teeth and was wearing dark, large sunglasses. This was indoors, mind you, outside Port Macquarie’s IGA supermarket while I waited with a fresh pack of cigarettes for my compadres and their senoritas to stock up on snacks. Either she was hungover and the fluorescent lights were too much for fragile pupils, or she was stoned (which would have explained the yellow teeth) and self-conscious about her red eyes. Her name was Bridie. I never saw her again. One of the girls wanted to get her nose pierced and the other with her beau went shopping for $15 chairs. It was a good outing. I inherited a fat man hat. Not gonna bother explaining that one.
Wandering through a crowd of drinking gorgeous women and pasty, skinny muso dudes with a board under my arm was my trump card. Unfortunately there were both skinny musos and well muscled tradies with extroverted yet idiotic personalities there, and I fit into neither category. So like misfits did 40 years ago, I went surfing. It was all right; big, a little full but I had the right board for the job – a 6ft, thick cruiser known as a fish. Kind of like a longboard with none of the length but all of the thickness. Makes for ease of paddling and speed without effort. It’s third from the right, above. Jimmy had regaled us with tales of FOTSun 2010, during which he’d surfed while still listening to the concert just over the dunes. So we did just that, taking off on enjoyably large peaks and throwing our boards out across the face then turning back into the foam-ball as the wave died off, and repeating the process, as sweet tunes washed over us. It was really awesome when I walked back through the camp grounds: three guys and zero girls chatted me up about how the surf was. I felt like throwing my board on the ground, jumping on it and saying ‘That’s how fucking good it was!’ But I just kept walking instead and got ready to enter the festival site. The music was good, they had those excellent $11 vegetarian feasts and a member of our group hilariously injured himself but seemed none the worse off for it. A good night, worthy but not requiring of explanation.