A fit, bronzed, rubber-clad man sounds like every girl’s dream. But when the waves beckon, that surf dude will leave you high and dry
Babe?" Silence. "Babe!" Still nothing. As I regain
consciousness, I know exactly where my boyfriend is. He’s 300 yards from the bedroom window of our little bed and breakfast in Cornwall, brazenly enjoying his affair with the other woman. She’s a foot taller than me, a good three dress sizes smaller – and, covered in Sex Wax, she shines up a treat. Pressing my nose against the window, I watch him sweep her into his arms and leap across the sand, running his hands along her underside. I have to look away as he launches his sinewy body onto her hard surface and disappears into the sunrise.
A serious surfing habit is surely justified grounds for divorce. Look at that board rack in the hallway: there are three more smirking mistresses lined up for the taking. The classic twin-fin hybrid fish alone cost him £400. That would have bought me three dinner dates, a few dozen roses, a box of luxury chocolates and some Myla lingerie.
Yes, it’s official. I’m a surf widow – and we’re not even married. As the biggest two months on the British surfing calendar loom on the horizon, it’s time to get used to identifying my boyfriend as the 20th seal-impersonator to the right, a quarter of a mile out to sea. To the beach bunnies and aspiring surf widows watching him and his rubbery comrades longingly from the beach, I say this: know what you’re getting yourself into.
Lesson one. Learn surfspeak or, if you can’t be bothered, develop a line in appreciative noises as you look beyond the beach at what appears to be an indistinguishable set of frolicsome waves but, in actual fact, harbours influences such as offshore swells, high velocity, reef breaks and marine life that will bite your boyfriend’s legs off and leave him with stings so painful, only dousing them in urine will provide relief.
"Hmm, slow crumbling beach break," my boyfriend decided, just the other day. (Translation: waves a bit rubbish today.) "Might be barrels at Newquay, though. It’s death and glory. I’ll probably get nailed by a sucky one." (Translation: could find one of those tube things at the next beach down, but might die trying.) But the real translation is this: a long, sunny Saturday beckons tantalisingly, but the boyfriend is off down the coast, and I’m left in some random surf resort to fend for myself.
Lesson two. When you’re a surf widow, the most important introduction is not to the parents, but to the crew. It is often a motley one. "Make sure you say hi to the Gooch", an excited boyfriend insists, "and Chong." Gooch and Chong are Kev and Danny to their mums. There is also Gay Phil. Apparently, gay insults are the highest accolades, testimony to an ability to be entirely self-deprecating and parody your surfing self with a stylish and sardonic twist, and have nothing to do with the fact that Phil has taut butt cheeks that would earn a small fortune should he ever choose to moonlight as a rent boy.
I run into the Gooch at Monday lunchtime in our local cafe-cum-second-hand bookshop. He eyes me suspiciously from under his beanie and says he’s "99% sure the boys are off for a surf weekender in a few days". I stir a spoonful of honey into my soy chai with practised dignity and insist that they "take as long as they like and enjoy themselves", in an attempt at reverse psychology.
But the boys always come first. They’re the first phone call of the weekend, to check if conditions are right, and they’re his supporting cast for tall tales of waves the size of Godzilla and shark encounters, recounted around the campfire. Girlfriends are banned from the road trips, but I have it on good authority that standard practice involves stocking up on porn for the journey, farting a lot, urinating in one another’s wetsuits and competing over comedy trademark surf poses, so we aren’t missing much. My boyfriend, for instance, has perfected a freeze called "the roach", which involves coming into shore on his back with his arms and legs in the air, in a state of insect rigor mortis. "Surf trips", my boyfriend announces, "are when your friends become heroes."
And lesson three. In terms of quality time alone, disregard the movies. Romantic comedies, never a bloke’s favourite in the first place, are replaced by surf DVDs. At best, those are soulful, spiritual journeys across the globe, involving talking heads – worshipped surf pros with tans like walnut veneer. At worst, they’re thinly disguised pornography parading as sports-related entertainment. Expect a soundtrack from Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters or Jack Johnson, with endless mid-shots of random boarders skimming through barrels, followed by tedious close-ups of nubile bodies with silicone breasts the size of footballs, and racks of pert, bronzing bottoms in dental-floss bikini briefs.
Still, being a surf widow isn’t all bad. My bloke has the kind of sensational six-packed, lean, muscular body that I want to go to bed with – and wake up next to. My man is at one with nature – returning from the surf, he is more inspired and relaxed than the office-bound ball of tension that departed.
And, last week, I lost my surfing virginity. Having allowed myself to be coaxed into a Roxy wetsuit that did miraculous things for my buttocks, I caught my first wave. Or tried to. What really happened was that I was totally wiped out, dragged across the ocean floor and flattened like salty roadkill. I swallowed 10 gallons of water and thrashed my way to the surface, only to meet my sexy new fibreglass board with my forehead, suffer mild concussion and come close to throwing up behind a sand dune.
It was bad, sick, gnarly and bloody good fun. Suddenly, I got it. Surf’s up – for both of us.