Sharing a Surfboard | Florida

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They make it look easy as a dream.

Riding green, foamy curling waves on a surfboard.

I rented one while I was back in Florida for a wedding.

Now, in the water off of Cocoa Beach, I’m getting chafed red by a giant, oblong, wobbling blue surfboard that wants to tilt, dip, and pitch me under the water at every second.

I can see other beginners not having much luck on their own tropical colored boards (yellow, pink, key lime green).

The board is twice my size.

Squeaks and slips right out from under me.

The water is cold, but it’s clean.

No seaweed. Cocoa Beach both sounds nice and is nice.

After getting swamped by a few more waves, I swim the board into knee-deep water. The new plan is to catch a little wave and just stand on this thing for once.

It works. I ride the board standing up for maybe ten or fifteen feet.

Feels like being a billionaire.

As I’m sinking down into the now ankle-deep water, I see my small success has not gone unnoticed.

“Can I try that?” a young voice screams.

It’s a bunch of kids. Maybe five of them. Three girls, two boys, and a mom.

One of the girls is asking.

“What’s your name?”

“Gemini,” she says.

“Ask your mom.”

“She says it’s OK!”

I need a rest anyway.

“Sure, give it a try.” I un-velcro the strap from around my ankle.

Gemini, her brothers and sisters swarm the board in a flash. They’re screaming and fighting over it like a game of King of the Hill. I have thrown an entire family into chaos.

Gemini secures the strap around her ankle.

While this may sound like snatching the crown, it’s a serious tactical error. The weight of her three siblings carries the board into shin-deep water. She’s being pulled along as it surges up and down in the water.

I have thrown an entire family into chaos. The blue board seems as alive as a giant eel, bucking and chucking brothers and sisters into the water.

They’re trying to stand on the sinking board. Look-amme-momma-look-amme. This doesn’t last long.

In under a full minute, they figure they’ve got my money’s worth.

They shove the board back to me. It floats towards me in the water.

Their mom calls, “Thank you.”

I return to trying to do short standing rides on the board in shallow water.

I can pop into a standing position and ride the board ten or fifteen feet at a stretch. Tomorrow I should do even better.

The sun is setting. The water is lighting up warm orange. It makes a shimmering, blurry reflection of the sky.

Cold water wipes me out.

After one more standing ride, I figure I can’t top that this evening.

Tuck the board under my arm and return to the shop as the sun goes down.

End

You could be like me

Uganda Political Pin Back Button of General Idi Amin Dada | Pinback, East  africa, Pin backs

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It’s a warm evening on South Beach.

Fish bowls of blue cocktail drink on the table, and friends from back home visiting.

Reggaeton blasting. Crowds of people tramping up and down the block.

The beach is just across the street. You can’t hear, smell, or see it under the music, cooking food, and darkness, but it’s there.

Steve and I are raving drunk. Laughing about something moronic. Our dates are getting to know each other.

“Buttons for sale, buttons for sale.”

A Rasta man with his head in a giant wrap wears a coat completely covered in pin buttons.

He rattles one lapel at me.

“Buttons for sale,” he says.

Jesus, Sinatra, Hailie Selassie, Marley, Marylyn, Elvis, Bogart all on buttons.

“Hey!” I say.

Lurching a little at this point.

“That’s Idi Amin! He’s on your jacket with Elvis and Jesus and whoever.”

“So what?”

“He eats people!”

“So what?”

“So Rastas don’t even eat meat but you got a guy who eats people on your button.”

“That’s not my problem!” he says.

I think about that. Deeply drunk, it sounds like logic.

I mean, who’s problem would it be, then?

“You want to buy that man eater button?”

“No man, I’m good.”

“Can’t be thinkin’ you’re above other people,” he says. But with good humor and a smile.

“I don’t, in fact, I was probably a guy like you in another life.”

Steve drunk laughs at the mental image. My date looks at me suspiciously. I think I’m slurring my words a little.

“You could be a guy like me in this life, too. You don’t need your things.”

“You’re right, take my jacket,” I say.

I unhook it from the back of my chair. Shove it right at the Rasta man, who is shocked.

Steve puts his hand on my jacket.

“You sir, are officially drunk,” Steve says. He’s swaying a little himself, though.

The Rasta man is laughing hysterically now.

He walks away, still laughing.

You can hear his jacket buttons jingling for a mile.