I wander down to the beach to a shack next to a café. I’m here at my destination, “Surf School”. I look around. There are lots of kids and their middle class parents putting sun cream on their children or doing up the zip on the back of their wetsuits. The average age seems to be 12years old. Interspersed with the parents and the bratty children are good looking, buff, sandy haired guys and girls in wetsuits looking extremely cool. It begins to sink in as I look around that I am way out of my comfort zone. With every small child wearing crocs, with every hot guy with sexy surf hair and a tan, with every ‘collars-up’ parent it hammers it home that little bit more.
I am given my wetsuit at the front desk/shack and go to the changing rooms where I nervously struggle to don this neoprene armour. I put one leg in. With all my strength I pull, tug and stretch this thick second skin over my flesh and bones. About 10 minutes passes and I have an ankle successfully suited. I start to irrationally panic whether I will ever get into this wetsuit and play out a scenario in my head in which I have to go back to the front desk/shack, “I can’t fit into this one, can I have XXL please?”
It’s a bloody hard struggle but I manage to put the whole thing on managing to dot it from sheer panic. Bizarrely, as I’m getting into the wetsuit and the fear of not fitting into it dissipates, a new claustrophobic fear of never getting out of the thing forms and images of me having to be cut out with scissors spin through my mind. This results in me making a hasty phone call to my mum. Inconveniently she doesn’t pick up so I leave what probably sounds like a crazed, panic stricken voicemail telling her that “Everyone else’s parents are here at the beach, could you please, please come and see me ASAP”. I swallow hard and put my fears of entrapment to the back of my mind. Like a tense parent having serious words with their child, I tell myself, “I have paid my thirty pounds; I AM GOING TO HAVE FUN”.
I am told to sit down on the beach next to a surf board and I get the free space in between a grumpy blond boy and a pre-pubescent French girl. We are all given sun cream to put on. I ask the boy next to me if all of mine is rubbed in and he stares at my forehead and says, “Yes”.
Dave (Instructor): Who knows some good jokes? You’ve all got to tell Shrek over there [points to another instructor who has wonky teeth] a joke before we get in the water!
Ben (Another instructor): I’ve got one Dave. What do you call a bald man eating biscuits?
Dave: I don’t know, what DO you call a bald man eating biscuits?!
Ben: GARY BALDIE!!!!
Cue raucous laughter
Of course, I can see past their façade of hilarity. These jokes are not funny at all, they’re telling them in an “ironic sense”. I accept that I’m going to have to partake in this show if I am to be accepted within my new found surfer buds. I rack my brains and remember the components of one joke which involves smiles and knickers with the punch line, “They both hold up your cheeks!” Unfortunately I can’t for the life of me remember the missing part to this joke.
We have to buddy up and take our boards down to the beach. I buddy up with my new found friend, Grumpy Blonde Boy. As we walk through the sand I notice one of the parents actually running alongside us in his Ralph Lauren polo, white shorts and deck shoes whilst trying to take pictures on his i-pad. I cringe.
We all sit on our boards in a circle and have to say our names and a joke. I don’t want to look like a kill joy so I eventually (after trying and trying to remember a joke, ANY JOKE) fall back on a timeless classic.
Me: Knock, knock
My audience: Who’s there?
My audience: Boo who?
Like I said, a timeless classic.
No one else could think of a joke except one boy who says one about a man with a seagull on his head named Cliff.