Excellent news. If you ever doubted the Californian man, he of high cheekbones and impossibly blond hair, toned and tanned abs, carefree attitude and that I-just-woke-up-this-way kind of beauty was an invention of Hollywood surfing movies and Calvin Klein ads, let me reassure you, he does exist and doing very well.
A couple of hours spent on the Malibu Pier beach will be enough to validate my assessment. Up until a few years ago, my friend Silvia, a few days after landing in LA, would invariably ask “Can we go to that surfers’ beach?” It was best friend’s code for “I want to go see some surfer dudes before I go back to Italy”. And I happily obliged.
There are very many surfing beaches, depending on what board one uses, long or short, what kind of waves one wants, the level of difficulty and many finer points any surfer would be more than happy to discuss. But the Malibu Pier is indeed a premium spot – right in the heart of Malibu, next to the lagoon and the Colony of movie stars’ abodes fame, impossibly beautiful specimen abound, parading on the sand, black wetsuits dangling from their waist, copper skin and perfectly bleached hair from countless hours spent in the sun, gleaming teeth and chiselled cheekbones. Where do they make them exactly?
More entertaining still, it’s to watch them dance on the waves, with a grace and a lightness that probably required years of practice but seem engrained in their being. And, indeed, to spend time on such a beach doing more than just sunbathing but taking an interest in what goes on in the water (forbidden to mere swimmers to avoid hapless tourists being whacked on the head by a board) will reveal glimpses of a culture that has always been synonymous with Southern California.
The old man, trimmed and dark, face shaded by a wide-brimmed straw hat, proudly points his granddaughter falling in the foam and his son, a renown surfing teacher, slicing the wave he has caught to alight gracefully nearly on the sand. If you have ever tried surfing, you know how hard it is to even find the balance to stand on the board, let alone becoming conversant with the waves. The most dedicated will be in the water in the middle of winter, before heading to the office, mapping storms and tides. There is a meditating aspect to surfing, way out there, far from any noise or voice, other than the clamoring of the waves, just with yourself, testing the limits of what you can do.
As to me, I never even bought a board, perfectly happy to discuss the finer points of surfing from the comfort of the beach, away from the freezing water and a step closer to understanding this uniquely Californian way of life.