Dear Kelly Slater,
When my eyes first opened to the world of surfing, you were there, looking over me and smiling with a mess of short black hair, typical of a young father. By the time I learned how to surf, you had already won a couple of world titles. And you were my Superman. Throughout my formative years, you were nothing less than everything that I had aspired to be. And I was destined to root for you like a young Puerto Rican boy born in the Bronx is destined to root for the New York Yankees. I lay in bed every night praying that the apple hadn’t fallen far from the tree and I loved you. This love was meant to be undying.
But then I got older. Outside influences pulled at me from every direction. I started hanging around a different crowd — the crowd you had warned me about. Your surfing taught me not to do airs until my fundamental technique was as sound as the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner, but I didn’t listen. Those outside influences were tugging and I started trying airs anyway. And the situation only escalated until a meltdown ensued. “Fuck you Kelly Slater!” I thought. “You only don’t want me to do airs because you can’t do good ones yourself! That’s what it is, Dad — there it is, I said it!” In a tantrum, I threw Mom’s favorite patio chair into the pool and told you that I was leaving for good.
But then I got even older and you might even say that I grew up. My angst had died; my spirit was no longer rebellious. And one day, when I pumped nine times while racing race down the line only to mistime an air on the best wave of the day, I came to a realization. You were right, Kelly, and you always have been. You are the best surfer in the world. And even if your nose does sometimes look like a seesaw with a fat kid on the tail on some of your airs, I still love you. Nobody is perfect, but you are very close. And when I saw you get that should-have-been-10 in the final against Parko, I knew it was time to come back home. You probably knew all along that I’d be crawling back someday, hopeless and sorry. Well, guess what Kelly — here I am.
I love you.
Your biggest fan,