1965. I was sixteen, and out surfing early one morning in San Clemente with friends. There were a couple of guys out in the water acting like they owned the place. Hogging waves, cussing us out, cutting us off on our own waves. Stuff like that. They were older than we were, by three or four years. Real bad attitudes, the kind that make the whole experience unpleasant for everybody. The beach was deserted except for them and us. Eventually they took off to get some coffee or something. Left their surfboards, towels and everything right there on the beach while they were gone. You didn’t have to worry about your stuff back then. They should have. Of the two guys, one was a particular jerk. I took the opportunity of their absence to paddle into shore and bury his board in the sand, deep, right there where it lay next to the other one. Then paddled back out to continue surfing. When they returned, they freaked out at the board being gone. Started yelling out into the water, asking if we’d seen anybody on the beach etc. Did we see somebody take the surfboard. Didn’t see a thing, I said. Sorry about your board.
I took particular pleasure in the fact that he was standing on top of it at the time.
They ran around frantic for awhile, not knowing what to do, then dejectedly picked up the
remaining surfboard, along with their other gear, and left.
On the greater stage of my life it was a relatively minor incident. But I do regret it. Not that
it was such a lousy thing to do, but that it was a lousy thing to do that felt so good.
And I'd probably do the same damn thing today.