@loripalminteriTweets by @loripalminteri
Boardshorts & Butts
More than one of my brothers former girlfriends have complained to me about some obligation he was blowing off— maybe it was a BBQ her family was having or a communion or something of that nature— because he was going surfing instead.
It perplexed me, always, why his girlfriends thought they were gaining something by “tattling” on him to me. He’s my brother, and one of my best friends, and while my brother has often been an idiot, I’ll still take his side while berating him for being an idiot.
Though, in this case, without hesitation, I’d say, “yeah, he has to go surfing. Trust me. It’s best for us all.”
Truth is, I’d do the same thing. Really good Long Island waves don’t happen that often. Almost everything else becomes back burner when swell rolls in. This includes plans with significant others. I’ve seen many a surfers girlfriend get angry at them for “choosing” surfing over them. But I get it. I get the surfers vantage point more than the feeling blown off significant other. Just the other day, I was surfing with an older guy who’s son went surfing on the morning of his wedding. I said if his wife to be was cool with that, his marriage is going to be a good one.
Surfing never put a wedge in any of my relationships, but I’d experience a similar backlash with comedy. Blowing off dates and canceling plans for shows. Do that two or three times in a row, and without fail, that person will feel inadequate and not want to try to be with you anymore. Which makes sense. I get it. I’ve seen guys quit comedy because of girlfriends. That can’t be healthy either.
But I digress. When I was younger, I only ever read MAD Magazine and Surf magazines. I had a subscription to MAD Magazine that my parents continued to pay for because they once said in efforts to encourage all their kids to read that any books or content that was read they would pay for. Alas, my brother and sister rarely picked up books, so when subscription renewal time came for my comedy fodder, I’d remind them the promise that they made about paying for reading material. I loved getting MAD in the mail.
The surfer magazines my Mom got from the school library, where she worked. They’d be old magazines, because once they reached a certain shelf life, they’d discard of them. But surfing magazines weren’t all that topical anyway, so it didn’t matter. The articles in surf mags weren’t ever that long, mostly there were pictures of guys (hot guys) shredding waves in a stunning water playground somewhere in an earthly paradise. The other pages were advertisements, usually accompanied with a woman in a bikini with her ass sticking out. Footware/Sandal ads especially always showcased a beautiful woman with a bathing suit bottom that was one or two sizes too small. Sex sells, I knew that. Though I’d have a better understanding of why later. Back then, I’d think, “are guys really buying boardshorts and sandals because there’s a hot girl on this ad? God, guys are retarded.” To be fair, the reason why I never picked up women’s magazine like Cosmo is because it was repetitious, if not petty, about sex and celebrity gossip, so I thought women were pretty stupid too.
Surf mags were more influential to me as an explorer than a surfer. I knew I’d never be great at surfing. I’d never had the natural ability my brother had. To be honest, I really enjoyed the articles where a surfer wrote about a terrifying experience; be it a shark encounter, near drowning in rips, hitting reefs, etc. It wasn’t just the mere fact that I’m drawn to darkness, but I’m also drawn to perseverance. And I related to being scared in the water. I get scared in the water all the time. If the waves have size to them, I get anxiety still. Surfing is fucking scary. This would also serve me well as comedian later. Get knocked down, get up again. Like that Chumbawamba song.
But surf mags always feature these remote and impossibly stunning locations all over the world. I need to go to all these places, I would think, constantly rearranging my “to travel” list, those places with calendar worthy beaches topping the list. It’s part of the reason Hawaii remains a hearts desire for me… because my expectations were high and Hawaii still blew me away. That almost never happens.
It’s funny to me, in retrospect, not how influential a comedy magazine and surf mags had on me, but how utterly obsessed I was with both. That in the years I spent deciding what I should do with my life, or what would make me happy, the answers were stowed beneath the sink in our bathroom: Comedy magazines and surf magazines. Those are your ingredients.
It didn’t occur to me that I was obsessed with comedy until later. I guess because I assumed everyone was obsessed with comedy. Who doesn’t love to laugh? Why would you watch the news when you could watch sitcoms with clever dialogue? Also, my family were comedy junkies and my friends comedy nerds so I just assumed the whole world was that way. The whole world adores and understands comedy (the latter is becoming less and less, unfortunately) just as I do.
The ocean disappoints. Often. I can’t tell you how many times I woke up at the crack of dawn, excited and reeling, “today is the day. The wind is north. The swell is coming. It’s going to be perfect!” Only to show up to the shore and there’s nothing even close to rideable. You’ve been looking forward to this for days. Disheartened, you wonder when there will be surf again. The reason it’s so hampering is because you know what it feels like when conditions are just right. You know how awesome it is. Give me clean 3-4 foot swell over sex any day. Alas, if you’re going to be disappointed, you might as well be disappointed at the beach. You’re still amongst the piping plovers running from shore break and the salty air. There’s something romantic about it, I suppose.
Comedy disappoints. A lot. Sometimes it’s a gig that goes south. Sometimes it’s a TV or writing opportunity you hope will be your “break” that doesn’t go anywhere. Sometimes it’s looking at your calendar and thinking, “fuck, I don’t have enough dates. I’ll get rusty and starve to death.” Sometimes it’s how fucking stupid both audiences and comics are being about political correctness and ruining what makes comedy special. If you’re not a comic, you might not see it. The comedy bubble has burst. Everyone is offended and a victim and the hacks will rise. The fucking hacks! The time of the hacks is coming and I’m going to kill myself. It breaks your heart because you also know how awesome comedy can be.
The problem here, is when comedy disappoints, you’re not on the beach. You’re in a musty basement waiting to perform for 6 people. You’re alone in your apartment, drowning in your guilt that you put family, friends, relationships on the back burner so you could pursue your “dream.” You’re in traffic, with dread in your gut that maybe the reason you’re not more successful is that you’re not good enough. This ends bad. But everything ends bad, I suppose. Read enough rock star autobiographies and you’ll see they all have a reoccurring theme: the best years were the struggling on the rise and hungry years. They’re never happy at the top. And the way down blows, but if you can avoid bitterness, and find humor in your flaws and peace that you stayed true to yourself, holding a middle finger to the epicenter of the universe, well… thats about as good as it gets and probably you’ve lost people to heroin.
It’s rare I’ll ever surf in a bikini. My bottoms will fall off and my boobs will pop out. Many a dude has seen a nip slip, or the white of my butt crack after duck diving a wave in the water. Boardshorts never stay on my hips because I have no butt. The sense of arriving home at a beach, be it my stomping grounds on Long Island beaches or traveling abroad, is a feeling that’s not lost on me. When life radiates aches from your head to your heart to your finger tips, get your butt to the beach. When you’re in boardshorts, it’s just easier to remember this is the good part.