On Writing the Book
Writing has become really important to me. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always had a lot of thoughts, ideas and feelings buzzing around my head. Like why is my mom yelling at me, where did Dad go this morning, how can I be more like my big brother Bill. In fact when I first started putting all this stuff down on the page, it was Bill who inspired me. What a character. He’d been my hero and role model the whole time I was growing up. I thought he was the coolest guy in the world.
One time Bill and two of his friends let me tag along and go surfing with them. It was the early seventies and everyone sported at least shoulder-length scraggly hair, smoked tons of weed, and dropped whatever was on hand, though I wasn’t at the dropping stage yet. They were all playing hookey, so the only way I could go along was to skip a day of school myself, which meant turning in a authorized absence school pink slip for all of us. I wasn’t so comfotable about doing this as they were but hey, these older guys were taking me along with them so I was going to be as cool as them, no matter what.
On the way down to the beach, big brother Bill decided we should all fill out our own pink slips before we got back, so he made a mock-up of a pink slip and writes “PINKSLIP” at the top of the newly created form.
“Alright, who’s first?”
“Uh, you do know,” I piped up from the back seat, “that ‘pinkslip’ is not actually a word, right?”
“What’s wrong with you, I’m helping you with a clean getaway and your givin’ me shit, little broooooo!!”
“But ‘pinkslip’ is not a word, it’s two words,” I insisted.
“Okay, Einstein, how about “hotdog” then, that’s two words and it’s also one word, right?”
Suddenly there was an awful noise over our heads. It was the racks holding our surfboards.
CRAACK! THUMP! THUMP!
“What the . . . Oh shit . . . look!”
As we all look back, our worst fears were confirmed as we watch all four surfboards, still in the racks, flying through the air like slowly rotating helicopter blades. Everyone’s gasping OOOOOOH! NOOOOOOH!, shoulders clenched up and in, our eyes pinched, teeth gritted as the entire flying contraption makes a crash landing.
Lo and behold they land flat and all still strapped in the racks and sliding to the shoulder just out of oncoming traffic range, except for one, the only new board amongst all of them. Matt’s board has sprung free and the nose has slid into the right lane of the freeway.
Quick deceleration by Bill, and all four of us jump out and sprint down the freeway trying to get to the crash area before Matt’s board takes a secondary hit. As I’m running I’m looking past Matt and I can see a huge eighteen-wheeler just barreling down the far right lane. Matt is no more than forty yards from the pile at this point, still in full sprint and motioning to the truck driver with both arms and hands swinging from left to right hoping the driver is translating the motions to mean MOOOOOVE OVERRRRRRRR!!
He does, but traffic won’t allow him to get over in time and he runs right over the nose of this brand-spanking-new beautiful yellow-with-black-pinstripes Steve Walden surfboard.
It’s shatted, splinted, smashed to smithereens. Dead, irreparable and gone forever.
Matt’s not crying but he may as well have been. So deflated after being so close to saving his board. Everyone else’s piece-of-crap boards was undamaged. We chalked it up to karma and figured that’s what we get for ditching school. The pink slips were rejected in any case, and we were marked down for truancy.
I started out loving these wild times with my big brother, even though my relationship with him changed so much over the years. So when I decided a few years ago to write a book it was originally going to be all about Bill.