Editor’s Note: Chas Smith is SURFING’s roving reporter on things in and around and sometimes unrelated to the world of surfing. We don’t ask questions.
The US Open of Surfing ends in a wild mélange of bad surf, decent surfing, surprising concerts. Like Weezer. Huntington Beach feels, smells, like an abused woman. Hollow-eyed and ashamed. But aggressive. She sits still and alone in the harshly lit morning contemplating memories of high times before the bruises and hangover. Vague ones of parties and after-parties. Just so many parties and after-parties.
And while Julian Wilson’s Scratching the Surface was the crescendo, its Shorebreak Zimzala after-party was some sort of dream sequence. Unattached to the main narrative by sheer surreality. The bar/restaurant full, so full. Packed beyond. Overworked waitresses forced to lock arms and keep stragglers out. Even Jay Thompson. Inside the hot crowd drank and swayed. Conversations so loose! Back slapping. Laughing. Wanton kissing. Free poured vodka. Beer drafts tapped completely dry.
This surf industry is a family. There are cousins and uncles and second cousins and cousins you have never met and cousins you have never heard of. But with alcohol and a reason to gather, everyone feels familial. Everyone friendly, even if angry enemies in the dark, dark heart.
More people come. The lobby turns into a party, too. But during the week I had befriended the overworked waitresses. I had made them smile. So I sauntered in, through and out of their locked arms with a wink and a still-buttoned-at-the-wrong-angle shirt. From party to party. In my hand was a margarita half-filled with Cholula hot sauce called a “Border Patrol.” I saw Brodie Carr and we slapped backs and laughed. I saw Channel Island’s Travis Lee and we spoke of important things. I can’t recall. Rocker. Or double V. Then I saw her again. Her. The same her from the premiere. Coming up the stairs in a gossamer haze. Blond hair piled on top of a cut from marble face being held high by the most petite neck. She was flanked by delicious friends all appropriately coutured. No stray elements. Her lips still so red. Blood red. We locked eyes for a moment. Hers cobalt. Then she was swept inside.
My back was slapped by someone. Some other industry man. Second cousin. A sharp slap. But my mind was no longer right. I needed air. I went outside and stood dragging off a Parliament, the LA “it” girl cigarette, and shaking a touch and being generally not right. Why so unhinged? What?
It was 3 a.m. I handed the valet my Jeep Patriot ticket because I needed air and open Pacific Coast Highway. I needed to go away. I waited. I watched Bob McKnight, Craig Anderson and Rabbit Bartholomew exit the Shorebreak and climb into a stretch Lincoln limo. A strange but somehow sensible pairing. My jeep arrived and I drove north. Alone.
The following morning I wake late. I am sore and exhausted and still unhinged. I wander out to Main and it is empty save blowing colored fliers to legalize marijuana and a sale on Rip Curl wetsuits. Huntington Beach feels, smells like morning whiskey breath. And I still shake. Something has to be done. Her. But I have a plane ticket to Honolulu leaving in the afternoon. But I want to…