When a Cap is not a Cap
05 August 1996
The Foon household was in a packing frenzy as we prepared to
separate ways again, Mrs.Foon to Mexico City, me to
(YES!) I'd been trolling tire stores by phone to get new
rubber for the
truck and I had just about everything nailed down, except:
"Honey, have you seen my 'Surf Free' ball cap?"
"I put it downstairs to be washed." She said sweetly.
From a standing start I launched myself down the stairs
not touching a
step (Carl Lewis had nothing on me) and rescued the poor
thing as it sat
in a laundry basket, just seconds from oblivion. I walked
back slowly to
Mrs.Foon and held the cap out in front of me.
"Just what were you planning to do with this?" I tried to
keep the edge
off my voice.
"Well look at it, "She said, "It's sweatstained and
filthy. You've been
wearing it since you got it in Boston last June. How can you
thing on your head. It's disgusting!"
"Right you are sweetheart, but this is not just a filthy
cap as you put
it. Read it. This is a statement, a symbol, a code of honor,
and a solemn vow."
She fixed me with her "Here we go" look and smiled.
"When this cap first touches water it cannot just be
thrown in a machine
with soap and jiggled. NO - it must be baptized in sacred
holy salt water
that only Huey sends in the form of great waves generated
storms. These waves are sent like messengers, to seek out
surfers and their gear." I stared deeply into Mrs.Foon's
eyes to convey
the seriousness of this thought.
"Have you finally found that stash box you've been
looking for, for 25
years? And who's 'Whooey?'"
"That's Huey, dear." With a deep sigh of resignation I
I'll make this easy for you. For some reason men bond with
stuff. We form
attachments with things, whether they are valuable or not,
that make us
feel different from others. We need these things as
touchstones of our
identity. They bring us small comfort and assurance. God
knows men are
being blamed for everything that is wrong in this world.
for having too much power and for not being sensitive to
needs but our own. SO EXCUSE US FOR FORMING STRONG
ATTACHMENTS WITH SMALL
AND INSIGNIFICANT POSSESSIONS." (And why was I shouting?)
Mrs.Foon looked at me and said firmly, "Get a grip,
Foonboy. It's just a
"That's the point", I said, "To me it's not just a cap.
happened when you washed (and gag, bleached) the Miami
"Oh that thing. It fell apart when it hit clean water. It
was useless and
you should have thrown it away years ago."
"To me that cap was a prized possession and by laundering
destroyed it's Karma. That cap was never the same after you
washed it. Is
that what you're going to do with me when I'm old and
"What, throw you in the washer? I wouldn't start worrying
until you can
no longer perform you most important and endearing
"You mean..." I started hopefully and she finished, "Yes,
sound of my shattering ego could be heard in the distance.
"You know" she said, "I worry about you when you go off
on these surfing
trips. I hope your college buds don't convince you to do
like ride storm surf if any shows up." (She loves me!)
I started to head for the beach trying to avoid the
careful" talk and said, "I'll be OK, I've got my cap and
Huey to watch
over me." But before I could escape she had to get me just
"If baptizing the cap in big surf was so important, why
didn't you hang
around for Bertha?" she giggled. Now I love this woman with
all my soul
but sometimes she can push my buttons.......... As I got to
the door she
suddenly asked, "And WHO is Huey?"
"Why," I was thinking quickly, "He's just one of Donald
"Well," she replied, seeing through the bluff, "I hope he
takes good care
of you. I'm gonna need you badly when I get back."
"You mean for a backrub?" I offered morosely.
"Yeah, that will be a good place to start, but
Suddenly, I was feeling quite good. As I crested the dune
I caught a
glimpse of one of my friends getting covered on a good size
I touched the brim of my cap and turned back for my gear.
Come on Huey,
this cap does need a cleaning.
Surf Free or Die, Foonboy.
"I Saved your What!?"
13 August 1996
I was cruisin down I95 on a sticky, hot afternoon, south of
windows open and Phil Collins pouring out of 9 fully amped
Gradually I began to smell that sour, methaney stink of
swamp rotting and
cooking in the August sun. Ahhhhhh, this scent had always
announced to me
I was now in the Carolinas. I was heading for my favorite
beach for a
reunion with a couple of good surfing brahs who I hadn't
seen in 25
I blew into Wilmington, NC, dropped my stuff off at Moms
went directly to the beachfront house my friends Stan and
Big Ed have
rented for the last 8 years for their family vacations.
and hugs all around we settled down on the beach for a few
beers and to
watch the many tourists get face planted in what was looking
to be a
promising and lively, high tide shorebreak. We all guessed
that low tide
the next day would bring the next rideable surf.
After an hour of good stories and laughter, Big Ed got dead
stood up to hug and thank me after all this time, for saving
his life 25
years ago at Monster Hole, Sebastian Inlet! I was stunned.
At first I
thought this was a clever joke that only I was not in on,
but one look at
his teary-eyed wife and awestruck kids made me a believer.
confirmed he had spoken of this event only a few times but
at this point
in his life, with a great career and family to be thankful
for, he was
genuinely grateful for what I did. I was truly touched.
It seems that during college one winter, Ed, Stan, Dropin
Vin and I all
went down to Florida on semester break. I remember hitting
day really big - maybe 2xhead. We all went out on our long
attempted to tame the Monster with various degrees of
success. Ed took
off on the first wave of a big set, got hammered by both the
wave and his
board, and since this was before leashes, faced a long swim.
Ed said he
knew once the set got done hosing him, he did not have a
chance to make
it in. Then he said, "All of a sudden, out of nowhere, you
by on the shoulder of the last wave, kicked out right next
to me, and
nonchalantly asked if I need a lift in to get my board." I
apparently paddled all the way in with Ed hanging on my
tailblock. At the
time Ed was too cool to mention it, but he claims if I
hadn't come along,
he would have drown. Ergo, I saved his life.
I do not remember this episode and I remember a lot of my
experiences. Ed's wife told me later he has always felt
guilty about not
thanking me. Cool. So Big Ed magnanimously says, "If there
is anything I
can ever do for you Foon, just ask me."
"As a matter of fact, there is. The next time you produce
a Phil Collins
concert (Ed's a big promoter), I'd like to have tickets with
"I'm producing one of his shows in October. You'll have
the best seats in
the house as my guest. Of course, you'll have to sit through
"And I want back stage passes."
"And I want my picture taken with Phil."
"No problem, Phil's a good friend of mine, I'll
personally take the
"Ed, I don't know what to say but, thanks a lot."
"My pleasure Foon. Is there anything else?"
"Well Mrs.Foon is a big Micheal Bolton fan. Could she get
picture with a nice message?"
"Micheal's another friend of mine, I play on his charity
How would she like to have lunch with Micheal and I, as my
"Ohhh Big Ed, you're goood. We both thank you very much."
"You're not invited, Foon."
We all agreed to meet early the next morning for some
waves. As I walked
over the dune I could see someone who, judging by the style
changed in 25 years) could only have been Stan, planting a
casual five on
the nose. I knew it was Stan because he always stares at his
believing he's on the nose. I also knew he would never
never did. Stan was a compulsive nosehog and once he went
up, he never
As I paddled out I got a ration of shit for not only body
also wearing a ball cap. Even in the shimmering early
morning light, I
knew it was going to be a Carolina Killer day in the sun.
There we sat,
3 old friends trading insults about our apparent lack of
just like 25 years ago. Only this time Stan was wearing a
knee brace, Ed
was wearing earplugs for a chronic infection from seawater,
and I had on
a hat. Their sons, chip riding hotdoggers, laughed out loud
and called us
the geez squad.
Fortunately for us the surf was just perfect. Non
challenging, it ranged from knee to chest high, but not
juicy enough for
a serious working. The water was glassy, waves smoothfaced
and the rising
sun all but blinded you as we looked out into the ocean for
wave. Water Temp - 82 degrees!
It started early. After two viscous snakings and a tripping
as one of us
went by, we declared a truce so for the next hour we could
incident. All of the other riders in the break gave us wide
we were tearing it up.
Eventually there comes a time when a wave does show up that
little more of a challenge and I happened to get it. It was
a steep, long
but thin walled beauty about head high that offered up a
fast but barely
makeable 40 foot section. My choice was going for the wave
running over Big Ed who was sitting inside, or cutting back
the wave in. Big Ed must have been reading my mind. Knowing
I had already
saved his life once, and was under no obligation to do it
immediately dove for the bottom as I went for the wave,
catching just a
hint of air as I bounced off the tail of his board that was
out of the front of the wave.
Ed's wife said later it was a "breathtaking" ride as I
crossed the face
just over Ed's head and the crest fell over me like a veil.
I sort of
enjoyed it too. She said later she could hear Ed laughing
all the way up
the beach after he came up, yelling "Hey Foon, what are you
trying to do,
lose those tickets!?"
No Ed, I'm just so thrilled to still have friends my age who
appreciate what it's like to have fun surfing.
-Foondoggy (What a good time we had) !;^)
the next Kelly or......worse
14 August 1996
Last week we're sitting around the beach at Wrightsville
high tide wreck a perfectly good outside sandbar break. A
little boy, I'm
talking maybe 4 yrs old and 36 inches tall, came over and
asked to use one of our boogie boards. The kids got colored
on his face like war paint and he seemed very self assured.
ok, what's the harm and we gave him one of the toy boards
with no leash.
At most we thought he'd play in the shorebreak and some of
concerned when we saw him get pasted three times trying to
Suddenly we saw him paddling like hell for the outside, he
got half way
there whips around and caught some soup. Instantly he got up
some turns and cutbacks, working the soup to stay in the
On the inside he picked an angle, dropped a knee and blasted
shorebreak until he got creamed and planted in the sand.
All of us on the beach were speechless! Who was this kid?!
were his parents? We located his folks sitting close by and
they told us
he'd been doing this all summer, mimicking the surfers he'd
figured it's a fluke, but damn if this kid didn't go on to
do this for
another hour, sometimes getting all the way outside (75
there was a lull.
Once he stood up, he rarely fell off until he got into
shore. Each time
he landed on shore, he picked himself up, put the board on
his head and
fearlessly headed for the ocean again. His little arms
muscular for a kid but all he could do is arm paddle, cause
I swear his
feet didn't hang over the end.
One last thing, the kid wore little blue speedos and gave us
a curt "no
thanks" when we offered to put a leash on the board. When
the board later we asked him his name......"Peter"!!!!!!
Could it be that the evil spawn has worked its way East??!!
-Foondoggy (The kid also swam like a school of sardines!)
Well No, Ms Travis, it's Not like riding a bicycle
15 August 1996
I had not ridden standup in 239 days due to circumstances
some of you
might know (but don't care). The doctor had warned me to be
I did try it again. Last week, amidst the warm encouragement
kidding from some of my friends about my body boarding, I
decided to give
it a go.
So very early in the morning (before spectators could
arrive) I leashed
on a 9' DAVO trifin and entered the warm and tranquil waters
Wrightsville Beach. The small, easy rolling waves were
reacquaint myself with what my friends call, "real surfing",
eagerly launched myself into the waves.
Immediately I noticed how easy it was to paddle out, and
immediately my arms, neck and shoulders declared, "What the
F--K do you
think you're doing, Foonboy??!" They usually don't do much
work when I
bodyboard. 3/4 of the way out to a not too distant break I
had to (gulp)
The sensations of paddling and straddling a 9' surfboard,
nothing but a 43 inch sponge for 5 months, are striking.
on the board without the stabilizing influence of fins was a
kept thinking, "What a frickin' log this is!! How am I ever
going to ride
it?" Unlike other beginners, I had a very clear notion of
what I had to
do, but the wakeup call came when I actually attempted to do
turning that monster around from facing outside almost
Thankfully, the instinct to size up and catch waves is
identical and soon
I was scratchin for my first wave... missed it!! and the
2nd, 3rd and
4th. WHAAAAAAAA!!!??? Rest Foonboy, you're using up your
energy to fast
and getting noodle arms.
After a 10 minute rest I finally caught a slow moving wave,
reality hit me like a cross town bus. Where was my agility
Not There! Where was my ability to pop up and not worry
about dragging a
leg, foot placement, balance, or slipping off? Not There!
Where was my
instinct to assess the gathering wave and maneuver the board
displacement and foot position? NOT THERE!! Where was my
sense the forward motion of the slide and compensate by
angle turn! NOT THERE!! Where was my ability to do nearly
wrong and fall off like the greenest and biggest kook ever
to climb on a
surfboard? RIGHT THERE!! In a word, I was PATHETIC.
What could be wrong? It's the board! GOTTA BE! I went in and
8'6" Surfers Union trifin, a great paddling board and easier
around but, no luck. I went in and got a 7'6" Shannon not as
paddle but damn it, I knew it had to be the size of the
board, not me. I
kept thinking I needed a smaller more maneuverable board and
sickening moment I thought "What if all this time I've
really been a
shortboarder and didn't know it? GAG!"
All of a sudden it struck me - an Epiphany (A moment of
those of you Dictionarily impaired) What I really wanted was
Board! The Ultimate Shortboard!! With it I didn't think
catching waves, falling off, slipping, trimming, foot
placement or any of
those complicated things. Surfing on a sponge seemed -
automatic! My only
thoughts were of riding a wave with my face just inches from
surface. The concept was life altering - I was a Body
I raced in and got my trusty Toobs, BC, effortlessly paddled
out into the
break, dropped into a small, glassy tube and happily stuck
my face in the
lip for the sheer joy of surfing on my own terms.
While I'm espousing this aberrant philosophy, let me take it
permutation further. (Watch it Foonboy, you are on very thin
It just might be that the purest form of surfing is body
surfing) Your body on Huey's waves with nothing in between
(You boys at
the Wedge can send those checks to Foondoggy, c/o alt
surfing) The use of
bigger and more sophisticated surfcraft removes you that
much more from
this purity. Using this logic, body boarding is not that far
"real surfing" while Windsurfers might just as well give it
up and call
their sport what it is -Sailboarding. Anyone care to
The boys who'd witnessed my awkward failures with the
surfboards were amazed at my agility on the B-board. I came
every wave with a major take-no-prisoners 'tude, taking
every risk that
came along and cackling merrily after every ride. One came
over and asked
me, "Hey mister, how long you been bodyboarding?" I replied
as I whipped
the little board around and plunged ahead for another ride,
Am I banished from the group?
"Knowledge of what is possible is the beginning of
"Remember that happiness is a way of travel - not a
A "Speed Bumps" Revenge
23 Aug 1996
Normally our local break is very laid back. Nearly everyone except a
handful of locals is a tourist or visitor to our town. The aggrotude
quotient is very low and wave sharing is the practice of the day.
I've been surfing and watching this street for 9 years and on any given
day can tell you exactly what conditions will produce surf, and where the
best line-up point is. One is directly in front of the Foondoggy Surf
Palace and it's my favorite spot.
During the last decent swell a crew of Joisey boys were on their way back
from a trip to the Outer Banks and they stopped to check our waves.
Conditions were good for the summer and they soon joined a few of us out
in the line-up. Immediately the vibe became one of competition and
wave hogging. Now I can understand if you've made a long trip and gotten
skunked the whole time, that the first time you find waves you want to
ride 'em all. But being rude and selfish when there are plenty of waves
(if you're patient) to share is just "Kookesque".
The boys all rode moderately sized thrusters and they all eyeballed me
like I was some circus side-show when they paddled out. I am a curiosity
I know - 46 year old man (freckled and burned) riding a big black
bodyboard and wearing a ball cap. Who wouldn't look? Eventually they had
snaked nearly everyone and had succeeded in ruining our friendly line-up.
After two blatant snakings I decided one of the worst of them needed to
be visited by the Foondoggy Welcome Wagon.
Since I've got the break wired, I'm usually in position farthest toward
the peak. Anyone going for a wave who looks back toward the peak will see
if I'm going for it - I'm not a small guy and I let people know if I am.
A set wave comes along and it's obvious to everyone I'm in the best
position to get it. One of the Joisey boys decides to shoulder-hop even
though I yell, "COMIN!!" I'm well into the drop on the headhigh wave
when he starts to go for it and begin his popup and turn. I can ram him
With just a little pressure on my inside rail my drop speed sends me up
to the top of the wave just as I'm passing in back of him and over his
left shoulder. At this point he still hasn't seen me yet figuring I
probably straightened out (I hate when they assume by snaking me I'm no
longer going for the wave). Just as I'm even with his head I bellow,
"DUCK ASSHOLE!!!!" in his ear, and for good measure let my outside fin
slap him on his shoulder.
He collapses like a house of cards and I get a pretty good ride. As I
paddle out he's waiting for me and says, "Next time watch where you're
goin', Pops." (I hate when they call me PoPs.) He's assuming here I have
no control over where I'm going. I reply as I paddle by "If there is a
next time, my friend, I won't be goin' around you. And Hey, on this beach
that's 'Mr.Pops' to you." I can hear him mutter as I continue on "Fuck
you old man."
All of a sudden, I'm feeling pretty good. There was no more snaking that
Foondoggy (No I'm not the surf police but every once in a while I like
to be sure everyone plays nice.)