Yesterday, a couple of us paddled out together at a spot I surf almost daily. The wave isn’t that great, but there’s nearly always one there, the people are friendly, and the crowd is generally pretty spaced out. Since the waves weren’t exactly world class, we were just kind of messing around, probably annoying everyone in the lineup. It was party waves and yelling instead of stoic silence and grim faces–you know, kook shit. We’d basically set a precedent that we were probably going to drop in on each other. Then, out the back, a well-defined, larger-than-average wave began to form. I happened to be in a good spot, so I turned, dropped in, did a bottom turn and angled up the face. Then I saw (insert burner’s name here) paddling for it, grinning his face off, knowing full well that I was on it. The precedent had been set. He was going, and we were party-waving.
“NOT THIS ONE, YOU FUCKER!” I screamed, knowing full well he was going no matter what I screamed. (Insert burner’s name here) went, got hung up in the lip for a second, and late-dropped (quite handily, I might add) directly into my path. I bailed off, and I think he kicked out immediately afterward. “You love me,” he said as we paddled back out. And I do. But god damn, did he ever burn me. Or was it a missed opportunity to become a fantastic party wave? He didn’t think he was burning me. Does burning require intent? I was sure he was burning me, but he was sure we were merely two friends sharing a wave. When, if ever, does a “sharing” become “burning”?
It’s a hard one to gauge–like I said, we’d basically been burning one another all morning, and it was a blast. There’s almost nothing better than sharing great waves with friends, except maybe not sharing great waves with friends. And to be totally honest, the wave in question wasn’t actually all that great–merely mediocre, except that every other wave that day was, frankly, pretty fucking bad.
I’m of the opinion that a party wave can’t be a party wave unless someone verbalizes it. “Party wave?” one must ask, pre-drop. And one must never assume that the answer is yes. Of course, the one who asks that is almost always the would-be burner, and if you’re surfing with friends, it’s very hard to say no because you’re just SUCH a good friend. But if the precedent has already been set and it’s accepted that you’re just going to burn the shit out of each other, consider them shared waves, and then laugh about it, can there even be a burn? Was I even burned at all? So please, you lovely bunch of readers, tell me your thoughts. Do you have hard-and-fast rules surrounding the party wave vs. burn?
Oh, and (insert burner’s name here), I ain’t mad at cha. But you’ve got one coming, my friend. Oh, you’ve got one coming.