Hierarchy or Heist

One day Cain laid down and bought a stand up paddle (SUP) board.  Some say that it was the years of being traumatized by overzealous paddlers in Hawaii that caused it, but I’m not sure.   Maybe he just gave up hope, the kind that the old Brian Eno albums and a hammock in the living room couldn’t cure.

I recall the days when Cain was quite ashamed of the purchase. We all razzed him.  In those days, he told us of self imposed regulations he had made.  Intentions for the family.

Rule number one, only ride the SUP when it is too small to surf.  Two, always paddle to outer reefs, sand bars, or other faraway places.   Three, don’t paddle out anywhere that people are surfing.

Overtime Cain began to enjoy the newfound equipment – no longer a total SUP hater, just disgruntled.  One evening over a beer with a couple friends he admitted, “I have not had this much fun in the surf, out on my own, just cruising since my childhood days.  Stand up paddling is quite freeing- like the  uncrowded days of the 70’s.  You kind of stand above it all.”

The next several months turned into years. Cain slowly began to strain his regulations.  His libidinal quest for better waves pressed firmly against the dying force of the moral etiquette.  Each week I saw him encroach upon the main breaks a little further.  It was a gradual process which eventually met with external resistance, but Cain continued.  Like all of us, he desired the best waves at the best breaks.

Abel became frustrated.  It had taken Abel years to develop his paddling, wave positioning, and wave riding.  His seniority in the lineup had grown accordingly.  He had done everything corresponding to law.  But when Cain paddled out, none of this mattered.  Each day Cain sat far out on the peak, he was up and riding long before Abel could even paddle for a wave.  And of course Cain had followers, many of them.  None of whom understood the culture or etiquette in the lineup as Cain had years ago.  Before long, Abel was ravaged by Cain and his crew of oversized equipment.   Clashes ensued.

Then, unexpectedly, the legislative gods roared down upon Cain.  In an unprecedented response, they marked him with a black ball and a 450 dollar citation payable to the Department of Parks and Recreation. Cain was scarred, banished to restlessly wander the California coastlines.  He cried out that the curse was too harsh, but most of us believed banishment the only solution.  We are only saddened by the fact that it was the gods themselves who took him away.  Let this mark on Cain be a sign, a meaning, an omen.


District Superintendent’s Posted Order No. 925-10-018.  Special-use-areas-Vessel Operations Restrictions.  State of California.  Dept of Parks and Recreation, Orange Coast District.

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