Monday, 15 April 2013

How to be a memorable surf student

Sometimes the world sucks, so I take a bit of my own advice, and think about something funny to prevent descent into a black hole of sadness. And I remembered that I owe you some advice on being a good surf student. This advice can also be applied to other types of instruction, such as ballroom dancing or sailing, increasing its value exponentially!

I mostly loved being an instructor for Surf Diva. It was inspiring watching women challenge themselves to learn a very difficult new skill, forming new friendships and strengthening bonds in old friendships through shared embarrassment, and laughing through the exhaustion of being repeatedly pounded into the sand by the Pacific Ocean. My hair became fantastically blond and I got extremely fit carrying boards, wetsuits, and tents to and from the van and the beach every day. But I didn’t love having to pretend not to be cold, repeating myself ad infinium, or narrowly avoiding stingrays every few minutes. And every now and then, I had a gem of a student who almost broke my veneer of enthusiasm. Here are some suggestions for being unforgettable.

1. Arrive with a squadron of people who will sit on the beach—or even stand ankle-deep in the water—and yell suggestions at you, disguised as encouragement. Preferably, they will shout such helpful phrases as “next time, don’t fall!” or “stand up longer so we can get a video” or “come on, just pop up!” so that your confidence is completely deflated. Also, the instructor won’t have to do anything if your boyfriend just barks orders at you from his chair.
Be sure that your instructor is sufficiently cool before accepting any directions from her.
2. Decline to listen to your instructor whatsoever. Did they tell you to use your arms to push your chest off the board? Screw that; use your head instead! Did they suggest lying on the board and getting situated before the next wave arrives? Nah, best to just leap onto the board as the wave hits you so you just roll off the other side immediately. Then you don’t have to expend the energy of getting back out into deeper water.

3. Demand to paddle out beyond where the waves are breaking. Then, demand that your instructor dive down and touch the bottom. Threaten to cry if she refuses.

4. Arrive at the beach in full makeup, with carefully coiffed hair. This way, when your mascara runs down your face and your cheeks look like they are dripping off, you will scare everyone but your instructor away and thus score a large area of the surf to yourself!

5. Wear a very tiny bikini that will adjust itself such that it becomes useless for body coverage once the first wave hits you. Don’t bother checking on it. Instead, continue to flash everyone at the beach too shy to point out that you are basically naked.

6. To get out of giving your instructor a tip, tell them you’ll leave their tip at the office. Then go shopping at Gucci instead.

This is a picture I took of a postcard. I encourage you to do the same after your surf class, instead of bothering with actual photos of yourself flailing about.

7. If you step on something slimy that wriggles and then you feel a sharp pain in your foot, remain calm and quietly tell your instructor you may have a small injury. Then show them your gigantic, gaping stingray wound, but suggest you keep surfing. This will cause the instructor to think you need the gravity of the situation explained, to entice you in to the beach. Upon learning that you have been stabbed by the venomous barb attached to a sea creature, totally lose it and collapse in a bleeding heap on the sand while your instructor frantically summons help. 

8. Get sucked out to sea in a rip current, with the hope of being rescued by cute lifeguards. Act disappointed when your instructor almost drowns herself rescuing you instead.

Once you have mastered these tips, you can move on to becoming a kook using advice from my previous post! See you in the water...


  1. Oh, my, Jessica. You don't know me, but I know you because anyone who is a good friend to Nessie is a friend of mine. My daughter and Nessie grew up as Bliss sisters on the ranch in Idaho.

    This is just the most hilarious thing I have read in awhile. It did distract me some from the horror of the headlines of Boston's great tragedy. Thank you for your wit.

    And may hearts like yours, Nessie's and my daughters help fend off the hatred of those who color our world black.

    Norma Odiaga.

    1. Thank you, Norma! Ness speaks fondly of you! :)

  2. Thanks for the laugh - much needed. Following your blog, looking forward to more 'advice'.