Original writings by Adrienne Nater

A Dream           (Transition to surfing)

She repositioned herself beneath the avocado trees. The sun as constant in its place as was she: the air warmer, the breeze absent. She was still. Her body sank into the coolness of the leaves; the shade of the trees hid her from sight. She closed her eyes. Drifted off.
She was on the peak of a mountain and there was room for her feet. This was not the only peak but this was her peak. On her feet were shiny black skis. The maker’s name was clearly marked in blazing gold on the top surface, forward of the boot fittings, Heads, the premier brand. Then she is plummeting down the mountain. Down and down, faster and faster. And then the bottom of the mountain turns into a sea. But the sea is yellow. The sky is yellow, and she is in the water, swimming, looking for help. She is alone. And there in the distance is a single mast sailboat, the mast disappears, the boat is riding the waves without direction, without power. She knows that she won’t die, won’t drown; she has to get to this now white barren boat. She swims in the heavy, warm yellow water. There is a small person already on the denuded wooden platform. It is a dark haired child. She reaches the edge, now she is on the boat. She takes the child in her arms, enfolds her in a cape, rocks her, holding her close. Then the boat is a long board.
She is stroking the water an arm on each side. The water is blue; the waves are following her, chasing her. Faster and faster, deeper and deeper she digs into the water.

The dream is breaking up: She keeps her eyes shut, doesn’t dare shift her position, tries to recover the pictures, recount the sensations. She scrambles inside her waking to hold onto the passion: to embrace, to comfort, to protect the child. She was awake now but she held on, making a mental note ― this is how you feel when you are able to give of yourself without reservations, that great joy of completeness. She had always imagined that this was the way it would be.
There was more: the cool water, the waves, the board.
She was forty-five years old. She was on vacation in Hawaii.


Water’s Ways

Water attracted her, felt safe, comforting, but surfing? Playing in the waves a delight, not riding them. She was confident at the beach. The ocean a reasonably private haven of security.

She looked at the throngs of beachgoers, she assessed her own forty-five year old body — Looks better than most! So, across the sand to the surfboard rental booth. She dragged a yellow board into the water, flopped aboard, and flopped off.

Again and yet again, body on; body off, body on, off. Outraged, she gave the board a whack thrust it out in front of her; it skimmed out of her reach.

She splashed through the incoming waves, she reached out wrapped her arms around the board. She turned, look back towards the beach. Was anyone watching this inglorious performance?

The sun reflecting on the white sand the glistening blue water distorted her vision. She saw a figure walking through the water. He had a shock of gray hair, side burns, bronze body, white suit, a very tiny white suit. She took a deep breath, shut her eyes. She shook her head, her memory began to fade, she heard the rustle of leaves, then a backwash wave slapped her across the face, she heard a voice out of the past but no, this voice was now:

"Hey, you Haole lady, you neva stay on, betcha you got da oil on your nice bod, here, sand and salt water clean you good." And he reached down, dug out bottom sand, and threw some of it on her front, then on the board. He was laughing. She was not ready to laugh. Then he said as he moved in closer, "Come on, you scrub da board I scrub you."

Should she smile, laugh, run off or go with the flow? She thinks, fresh Hawaii beach boy. No, not a boy, her age or older.

"Smile, it no broke your face. You want I should teach you surf? I’m Rabbit." She’s thinking: "Sure, your name is Rabbit like mine is Bunny. But what the Hell! I want to learn to surf and here he is."

She watched as he picked up the board, and in one unbroken motion placed it on his left shoulder. He headed back to the beach. She hesitated, "This is not the way to the surf." As they crossed the sand she could sense the people watching. She felt her stomach tighten; her eyes automatically cast their focus downward, she would not look at them. Ahead of her: Rabbit, her board, the sand, the thousands of eyes. Her board was now beached, lying upside down on the sand. Rabbit motioned for her to kneel on the board. OK. She wiped the sand from her hands, gritted her teeth, took a deep breath, and did as she was told. Rabbit instructed: lie on the board, hands grip the edges parallel to her shoulders, push up, get up, one foot ahead of the other, knees bent, to a standing position. The sun’s heat penetrating her body, she kept her head down focusing on the sound of his voice. "Again, get ready, push up, on da feet, knees bent, stand up." In fifteen minutes she learned the drill. Then a piece of white stuff was tossed on the board. "Wax da board, den we go."

She crouched over the board, rubbing, rubbing. She ventured a glance, no one was looking― she saw feet next to her board, “enough wax, let’s go.”

He hoisted her board to his shoulder, scooped another under his arm and tossed both of them into the water, "Get on, paddle, follow me" He held the nose of the board, "Move forward." She did as she was told. But after a few moments of braving the constant slapping of the waves across her body and the push back of the current, he was way out ahead.


She stroked harder, her arms already cramping. She saw Rabbit paddling back. He hooked his toes onto the nose of her board, like a tow truck― “Paddle, dig deep!”

Out they went, way out to breaking waves. The water was clear, cool, the air warm, the breeze gentle. She was sure she was wet with perspiration. He stopped, positioned her board facing the beach. "Now when I say get ready, go, paddle, you paddle like hell― when I say up, get up, you get up fast, keep your knees relaxed, shoulders and feet square to the board; feel for the speed of the wave when it pushes the board."

The waves looked gigantic. Then, "Get ready, ready, and, go, go ― paddle, paddle, dig!” She felt the board move out and then a sudden acceleration. She was paddling like hell. She heard the command, "Up, up, get up! She gripped the sides of the board, pushed up, got her feet under her. ― She stood straight up, bent back, her arms flailing the air, she was off, into the air, butt first into the water, floundering. She looked back. Rabbit was motioning, waving his arms, pointing. "What?"

As she reached for the board, a wave crashed on her head and the board flew straight up like a missile. She was driven down and down. Reflexively, she wrapped her arms around her head. She came up gasping. Another wave collapsed above her with overwhelming turbulence; she went down, came up and was driven down again, tumbling, the underwater reverberations deafening her. She opened her eyes underwater. "Sunlight" she thought "That’s the way."

Her head broke through the surface; she gasped for air, reached for her board, her arms wrapped around the nose holding on. Then she felt her body being lifted up and up. She looked down as she was carried up the face of the wave. The view from the top of the wave to the bottom tore her breath away.


The front end of the surfboard pointed straight down, later, she would learn the term for this unwanted maneuver, pearl diving or pearling. She shut her eyes, threw out her arms, her body spiraling in a free fall. The wave crashed. Darkness.

She was face down, mouth open, eyes open, looking at unfathomable depths, choking, she felt suffocated, her throat burned, ears ached, eyes burned as the pressure made it feel as though they were being sucked out of her head. Her body scraped against the worn reef, churned into the bottom sand. She felt something slimy brush across her face. She was being carried down, down; it was a long corridor, he was in a white coat, a black mask was forced over her face, she was held down, couldn’t breathe, "Tonsils, they took out my tonsils. I want my Daddy." She fought, struggled, gasping, desperate for air. Her arms flailed in downward strokes, her legs thrashed. She pushed herself, willed herself to the surface gasping for air. One deep gasp was all she got before she was overcome by more turbulence and the salty foam of the churning white water. Her sinuses were draining torrents of water. She is coughing, fighting the vomiting reflex, shaking her head, gasping for more air. "This is it, this is the end. Where is the flashing of the past before my eyes?"

"The board, I have to get to my board. Where’s Rabbit?" She twisted around, paddling to keep afloat, keeping her back to the unrelenting waves, diving down, trying to get under the tumult, allowing the current to push her toward shore. Each time she rose to the surface she was looking. Where was it? Where was he? And she spotted a vacant yellow board far to the left, about twenty-five yards away. Another crashing wave down she went again. Up again looking, looking, the board ― it was not where it had been a wave ago.


It was even further away, to the far right. Again, she began to swim. She could barely lift her arms. Her legs are dragging, her body aching. "Doesn’t anybody care enough to get my board for me?" A teenage boy called over to her, "Need some help?" "Boy, do I ever," she mutters but answers "No, but thanks." "Out here take care of yourself signifies that you are on your own."

She looked back. Where was that Rabbit? She could not find him; another wave rose up and blocked her view. Again, she looked, no Rabbit. "Where is that perverse SOB? He must know I need help, he doesn’t have to read minds to get my message." And when she finally picked him out from the other surfers, she saw that he was sitting on his board, arms crossed, the tail fins of the board out of the water behind him, just watching her, like a big Buddha.

She continued to chase after her board; well, chase was hardly the right term: she was slow, persistent: Sidestroke, crawl, backstroke, float, dog paddle. Walk? Her toes brushed the bottom as the in-shore waves receded. Despite being able touch bits of coral mounds the waves continued to lift her up and smash her down.

And the board had a mind of its own, teasing, skimming toward her on the wave backwash but then dodging just out of her grasp. The board bounced her way the waves subsided. She could now walk over to this damndable yellow object; she draped her body over the center, rolled her body on, wiped hair out of her face, put her head down, closed her eyes, letting her arms hang in the water. Then she remembered: And her eyes flashed open, her head jerked up, she grabbed the rails, body rising from the waist. She looked out at the incoming, now her attention to the waves was absolute. "Never take your eyes off of the incoming waves."


She plotted her course a calm almost wave less route back out; she timed the break of the waves. Accelerate: go up and over. Decelerate, back paddle to slow down, wait for the wave to pass under. Stroke with only the left arm, move right, stroke with the right arm move left. Watch every wave, every surfer. It was likened to the marching cadence or a dance, generally she was a watcher not a participant, but she knew rhythmic movement.

There was ebb and flow, rise and fall, mountains and valleys, but the timing, people, heights and depths were the elements of unpredictability.

"Who is this Rabbit person?" And, "Does he have a real name?"

After the long paddle back, she wanted to rest, needed to rest. She looked up at Rabbit as he moved her board next to his own. Before she had time for a smile or hears a word of encouragement, he spun her around, yelled "Ready" and pushed her into another wave. "Paddle, dig deep, faster, UP, UP, NOW, GET UP! No fly off like da turkey."

She paddled, got her body into position, knees, legs and feet under her, she was up with the rush of the wave and the speed of the board, her vision blurred the wind and salt water in her face, her body trembling. She was riding the wave! Not pretty, but she was up and going ahead. "Hang on feet, don’t fail me now." She struggled. She could hear the wave behind her. See the sparkling of white water trying to overtake her.

"Oh, God! Like flying on the water. What now? How do I stop?"

She shifted her body, turned her head to look back, lost her balance and flew off; but as she crash-landed her arms were out, hands extended, fingers stretched; she caught the board. "You’re not going to get away this time." She was energized. She could feel her heart racing, she was laughing. She looked at her hand holding onto the board, "Damn, I broke a nail and I don’t even care. I rode my first wave."


She slapped the water with her open hand, yelling, "Yes, yes, I did it." She looked around, whispering to herself, "Who saw that? Did he?" Yes, there he was, the grand poobah, waving. Rabbit, waving. And as she maneuvered her way back she remembered that she was the one who would avoid or ignore an activity rather than risk first time failure.

For her it had always been, "Better to experiment, learn on your own, then be perfect with the first public display, it had always been that way or it was nothing at all. Well, Get over it!" This is fun! Awesome, stoked, ripped now had meaning.

She was finally able to look beyond the end of her own surfboard. Surfers had a cord attached to their boards connected to a strap around their ankle. Why didn’t she have one of those whatevers? She would ask. "Rabbit why don’t I have a rope tied to my ankle and connected to my board?" He answered gruffly, "Dat’s a leash, too dangerous, no good for beginner. You just grab for your board and hang on, loose it, swim for it. Even if the board turns over, you hang on, look like turtle is OK." She thought she saw a sly smile creep across his face. "Who is this lunatic and why do I trust him?"

For the next 40 minutes he pushed her into just the right waves. Crashing, falling, swimming after the board, but up and riding too. When he readied her for a wave he yelled out "surfer" and the sea of surfers parted magically at the sound of his voice.

Then Rabbit said, "stay in dis pocket, on the right shoulder, watch the waves, paddle around, build up your strength and stamina. " Mo betta I go now. See you at 10:00 tomorrow at the rental booth. And keep away from the crowd." She nodded, asking, "Pocket, what’s the pocket?" "Da pocket is here." "Where exactly is here ― everything moves out here."

He shook his head and paddled away. She learned later that he went to Queens Surf, for locals only; outside surfers knew to stay clear of this spot. If they did not know it was made clear with surfing maneuvers that wiped them out.

Her location was called Canoes and Baby Queens. Every surfing spot had a name and reputation. The next surf spot, First Break and way out Pops then Number Threes, Kaisers, Inbetweens, Rock Pile and Ala Moana; place names all.

The rest of the morning spent paddling, chasing waves, watching surfers, trying to imitate their moves, getting control. And when her arms no longer worked she quit. She let the incoming tide and smaller inside waves carry her back to the beach. As she began to drag the board back to the rental stand, "Here lady, let me take that in for you." One of the beach boys relieved her of the board. "Another Hawaiian living off of the fruits of the sea, once fish and seaweed, now tourists." She sat drying in the shade of sea grape and palm trees observing the action. The scent of the sea, the tropical flowers, the rustling of the palm fronds encircled her.

"I can do this! No matter what I looked like today." The passion quickened her walk back to the hotel. She was more tired than she had been in years, but she envisioned herself whipping down the face of a wave, crouching to turn right, then left, up to the lip and down across the face into the trough, just ahead of the break, tucking into the perfect tube.

She found a book and studied all evening, trying to absorb as much surfing arcana as possible. The next morning on the beach she was still reading, researching.

She was at the rental stand at 9:00. The boards were lined up like the Moai on Easter Island, all with their backs to the ocean waiting; she walked among them, until she located her special yellow board. She hated yellow! It had an insignia of Poseidon midway to the front. Her learner’s position marker.

No dumb Haole lady today.


She looked away from her reading and watched the waves, counting as best she could from the shore. One ― two ― three ― four― five ― six ― seven ― eight― nine. Nine, she had read Burdick’s ‘The Ninth Wave’ in college. All about, waiting for the ninth wave.

"Howzit Haole lady, you come back. You really want ta learn surf?" His tone said he was surprised to see her. He was laughing as he said, "You no learn from dat book, you learn from me, best surfer and teacher in Hawaii, even the world. Put your stuff up, I get da boards; we start some serious learning on the Inside." Serious learning? What was yesterday? And, what’s this ‘inside’ as opposed to outside?" She wouldn’t ask. She would find out, but on her own. That was her manner.

Inside, turned out to be the area closer to the beach where the waves of the outside had another chance to form on the outcroppings of the inner reef. Not so fast, not so big, more predictable in a more shallow area. As she paddled behind Rabbit she noticed that other aspiring student surfers were there with their teachers. They all shouted the same commands: "Get ready, paddle, dig deep, up." But, no matter how many voices chanted these words, she could identify Rabbit’s voice. And for an hour that day and the succeeding three days she learned the basic skills: on board balance, getting up, knees bent, one foot ahead of the other, pressing her weight into the direction she wanted to go, trimming or orienting herself on the surfboard so it could plane as fast as possible, reading the juice ― the power of the wave, lifting the nose, lifting the tail, riding the rails, crouching down, looking back at the wave, timing the stroking speed, looking back while paddling to time, speed, kicking out, ― to turn abruptly to get out of the wave, diving off, aborting a wave, all this on merely the two to four foot inside waves.


There were wipeouts but she was stronger, more confident, and in a safer more predictable wave pattern location. After lesson time she paddled out to watch the practiced surfers and the turkeys ― no-nothing tourists who were over their heads literally and figuratively. At times the area became a lake of calm, clear blue water, there were passing tropical rain showers, light breezes, a flash of a water creature dancing on the surface, it was serene.

"This is the perfect place," she thinks, "Being here, all outside thoughts, worries gone, and it’s just me, the ocean, the gentle rocking motion as I sit on my surfboard. The calm waters, the warmth of the sun, the gentle tropical rain showers ― no stress ― it brings you back to earth. But, the ocean has moods, the way a human being does.”

Each evening she continued her studies despite the admonitions from Rabbit about book learning. "Who is he to tell me about book learning?" At least she could learn the rules of surfing etiquette and basic ocean survival. Never cut off a surfer who is already riding the wave. Never turn your back on the ocean. She thinks, "It’s not all in books but books help me. Except: Who is Rabbit?"

As she drifted off to sleep, she could even now sense the rocking motion of the waves, the coolness of the water on her sun-drenched skin; the sounds of the sea surrounded her, the palm fronds outside the window rustled as they brushed against the balcony. The identical sound made by the branches of trees as they rustled above and around her in the orchard. Without a pause she was able to fashion for herself this long ago adventure:


Frame one: I am sitting on the beach. I have my arms wrapped around my legs, my chin resting on my knees; I am staring out at the ever-changing surface of the ocean. I am watching the surfers. Thousands of people are on the beach and I feel so alone. Why?

No one is paying any attention to me. Except I know, without looking, that there is one pair of eyes fixed upon me. Those eyes, with their powerful gaze, make me feel childlike, small and miserable. This was so confusing.

Frame two: I had oiled my body with sunscreen and I didn’t have any success with even lying on the board in the shallow water. And, yes, Rabbit did come out to offer his assistance and a lesson and he did help me to scrub off the oil from my surfboard and then my body. I wanted to say no but I didn’t know how.

Saying no, hearing no, was an invitation for total rejection and possible abandonment. Better to say yes, or say nothing, than to say no.

And not asking was a way I had learned never to hear no. I would trust this man, but just for now, to learn to paddle around on a surfboard and maybe to learn to ride a wave.

But my fright and suspicion of this man was overwhelming. I did not know how to evaluate the intensions of men. It was all a guessing game; more than that it was going along blinded by the aura of mysterious images that were hidden deep from me consciousness if they were there at all. Could he tell, did he know, could he recognize my vulnerability? It was my ‘Show time’ on the beach at Waikiki. My mind went into neutral while we were on the beach going through the basics of board skills. I was in an auto obey and action mode. It took all of my strength emotionally to go through the ‘on the sand’ lessons of the basic moves and commands.

I had to block out all of the external input, just focus on his voice. My body was trembling, I could barely hold onto the bar of wax when it was handed to me with orders to ready the board for the lesson. My mouth was dry and words stuck to the inside. In any case I was too much in a state of shock to speak.

I knew that I was up and down and moving around in a pattern. Listening for directions knowing he would say "get up on the right foot first" and I had to think, which is right? And, "hands out level with da shoulder" and I could not remember where my shoulders were, my lips would have been in bloody tatters if the pain had not been so intense.

I did not know how to defend herself from the thousands of eyes that must have been watching, nor from the, and I thought that I was sure of this, the seductiveness of this confident Hawaiian male. But I wanted: what did I want? What did I want?

Frame three: I did go out that first day. We kept on the inside and he pushed me into gentle waves. I did not think they were either small or gentle. I was able to get up, do the tourist pose: feet squared, body facing front and arms out shoulder high. And each time I managed to paddle back with my weak arms, he’d turn the board around, watch the incoming waves and push me into the next one. Never let me rest. Just right ones for beginners.

I noticed that this man never met my direct gaze. He was distant, silent between the orders for catching a wave. Questions went unanswered almost as if he could not hear or care to hear. When answers came they were limited to one or two words. I finally asked, "When do you know to get up on the board?" His curt reply, "When you feel the speed." I needed to ask, "What is the speed?" But, no, eventually I became as silent as he; I stared at the waves, the beach, the buildings, the flags on the buildings, the number of waves that passed by.

For an hour I concentrated on the task, staying on the board. Rabbit watched me, referred to falling off as "You make like flapping turkey." Then he offered me an alternative, "Crouch down when you lose balance."


He would wave and shout at his buddies who were surfing or paddling the outrigger canoes filled with tourists. They spoke English, I was sure it was English, but with strange syntax that I could not follow. "Mai sista hia, or as gaiz kaen go pati yo haus, daes rait, no gon ren tumaro, Aes da kain gaiz de awl tawk only, phrases like that.

And that’s how it went. No big dramatics, no story in a glorifying novel, just ordinary "Haole tourist learning to surf on the beach at "Waikiki" nothing to write about. It was fun. Nothing gained but nothing lost either. No great victories no losses. It was simply just another day in my life.

But, there was something more: when I was out on the water. Rabbit by my side, I had a feeling of peacefulness even when I struggled to ride a wave. The power of the waves challenged me, frightened me, but he was there.

Even with his silence she had a feeling of trust. And there was a sense of singularity, the contact with the water drove out all other thoughts, it was like flying, I had to concentrate on my task, it was a life or death situation. If I became distracted I could perish. I had to place all of my trust in myself and my skills; and more than that, first there was trust in my mentor, his skills at his task. I was sure that if I lost control, faltered, cried out there was a person by my side that would guide me to safety.

Frame four: that night I did read up on surfing, I did wish to do more surfing but with more skill. But included in my thoughts, what were the risks? The worst was that I could get hurt: by a board, mine or someone else’s, or in the reef out-cropping. The boards went flying around out there: beginners, hotdoggers, Hawaiians aiming to injure or wipeout stupid, rude Californians.

I faced these alternatives (1) look like an old fool; or (2) never learn or (3) give up the effort or (4) overcome the love/hate relationship with water, and letting go of my modesty and self-consciousness

I thought being in a bathing suit and on a surfboard with gray hair drew looks. I don’t know why I thought this. I know I am in good shape but this sort of exposure makes me uncomfortable. I had always wanted to have a tall angular frame, without boobs, narrow hips; the athletic look not the seductive one.

Frame five: that second morning, when I went down to the beach, I got my towel from the Royal Hawaiian pool captain, I was shown to my reserved table by the pool "great big waves today" I realized I was going to have to expose myself again I wished secretly that the surf was down, a storm would rolled in, jelly fish invasion, or some other outside element would give me an excuse to be land bound, bored but safe.

I took off my watch, ring, and sunglasses, disrobed slowly, and folded every piece carefully, placing the items on the umbrella-shaded table. I kicked off my sandals and arranged them next to the lounge chair, stalling. "If I move slowly and methodically it will take longer and I’ll be less noticed." I walked out of the pool area to the beach. I barely glanced up at the ocean, watching my feet as they moved along toward the surfboard rental stand. I signed for the board, took a piece of wax and dragged the board into the shade. I waxed and then sat on the sand waiting for Rabbit. And this was my routine for three days. The lessons progressed. I was feeling more confident.


Frame six: On the third day Rabbit, was a bit more forthcoming with conversation. He was divorced, red flag, his girl friend never came down to the beach until lunchtime, two red flags, his daughters were in school, three flags, there was a spa in the basement of the Royal Hawaiian, warning bells went off in her head. But that was all for that morning. He was going to be late on the next day. "Get a board and practice stay on the inside waves."

So, after finishing my regular preparations on the following morning I got my board and paddled out to where I thought the inside pocket was. And there I sat: the waves were flat. The pocket was small, the population was dense, and the few swells that developed were slow, hard to catch, and crowded. Suddenly I had no time to evaluate my situation.

I felt the board lift. I saw the other surfers paddling out, past me. I looked over my shoulder and saw that there were giant incoming swells. Automatically, I flattened my body on the board and started to paddle out too. I was in high gear as I saw that the lull was over. I got past the crash zone and outside beyond the group of experienced surfers.

Waves rolling in fast developing long high walls. Shouts of elation, cries of "That’s mine" and "Surfer!" I watched from my safe perch and speculated, "Should I or shouldn’t I?’ "What would Rabbit say?" I knew if I stayed on the far left shoulder, waited for other surfers to turn right I could try to go it alone. Yes, I would match my skills against the power of these waves. If I only had a leash, damn, but I would grab for the board, hope to catch it before it got away. Or I might get lucky and stay on even if it had to be in a prone position, the baby way, but safer then wiping out totally. I counted the waves, "one, two, three, four, five" The "ninth" wave was out there nearing I began to paddle, digging deep building up speed to match the wave’s momentum.

Then I was sure I heard his voice "Ready, don’t stop now, dig deep, go, go, up, up. My body responded to the voice I was up and heading across the face of the wave. I dared not look down. I stayed in a crouched position until I was sure of my balance then I stood up crouched back down, rode my wave on and on. It curled around me. As the kids say, "It was a rush."

That’s what I remember happened then, this is now. I remembered Rabbit.

Rabbit…who are you? Why do I think of you and our times together? Have pictures of us, many, over the 30 years of our association. I believe, at this moment, that you must be the one man that I entrusted with my life; you never let me down, never asked for a reward in return. Although there were times in those early days that I wondered if you might have sex on the mind and in the body. You probably still do, you are a sexy guy, but our friendship was more important to me then all the overshadowing that sex might have played in destroying a lasting and long distant relationship.

So who is this "Rabbit"? Rabbit is not one person; like the chameleon, changing, adjusting to suit his situation. To many of his beach buddies he is a braggart, "A legend in his own mind" some say, but not within his hearing; he is one tough Kanaka. They know they would be "All bus’up." To others on the beach, a symbol of success. To his own children a supportive father. To his teammates, a competitor of unequal stature. To some tourists he is a dumb Hawaiian, speaking pidgin "to da max." To many, many chosen women, a great lover. He loves the women, avoids the smoke and drink. To the children of Hawaii, a generous, devoted hero. To his sport, a master, a true waterman, an ageless participant, smart, cunning, and to his banker a financial success story. He is a man who hides his agenda, speaks Pigin for the tourists and beautiful English, can work the New York Times crossword puzzle, in ink, in 30 minutes or less.

He is featured in movies, magazines, newspapers, television advertisements, books, teaching, always teaching, sharing his 85 years of water’s way every day of his life. He is known globally in the surfing world, sponsoring his own long board contest in Costa Rica.

He is of short stature. An honor student at Kamahamaha High School, college scholarship denied because of his slight build. Given name, Albert. One of five children. On the beach since he was three. Born November 11, 1920.

Left the beach once during WWII for service in underwater demolition duty. He has never had an 8-5 job, the sand between his toes that is his life. He is a beautiful many facetted man.

He gave me trophies as his student, one in 1981 another in 1990. One engraved with my name and "Class A Student Surfer" the other "Rabbits Surfing Success." I was not a kid but a mature woman, forty-five plus, seeking to learn to live in his element and enjoying it, sometimes fearfully but game for the experience. I could listen to him whether he was at my side or far away; I could always hear his voice, feel his presence. I trusted him.




Adrienne Nater c 2010 All rights reserved
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