Actually, I didn’t even know that I had a washing machine fantasy in me. But if there is any truth to the adage, “we create our own reality,” on some karmic level I must have wanted to experience life on the inside of a washing machine. I’m too large to fit into a real washing machine, so the Cosmic Wish Fulfiller substituted what I learned today is called a “barrel” wave. (I learned this by overhearing some local kids out boarding next to me say, “Man, I’ve never been thrashed in such a big barrel before.”)
Most people have heard the term “pipeline,” and seen surfers gracefully gliding through the gradually breaking wave—which produces the ever-moving pipeline, or tube. Another type of wave, one that I became all too intimate with today, breaks all at once. So instead of white foam steadily moving to the side along with the gradually breaking wave, a barrel wave simply rolls over in one big “kerbloom,” producing an instant solid white line of foam.
So if you have a fantasy to experience what clothes in a washing machine would experience (if they were capable of experiencing), find yourself a beach with large barrel waves (Napili Bay here on Maui is an excellent choice) and do what I advise should be done only once, just for the experience: paddle on your boogie board out to where the waves are breaking, and position yourself right under a large wave as it curls up.
Whereas a tube-type wave would gracefully pick you up and carry you along, a barrel wave ungracefuly picks you up and plunks you down pretty much where you started. Except, in between your beginning and ending point you will be spun around in the barrel of the wave, very much like a dishrag in a rotating washing machine. The main difference being, in my case, that a dishrag isn’t 55 years old, doesn’t have precious bodily organs (such as a head), and lacks a wrist tied to a boogie board that is flying around in as scattershot a fashion as were all my arms and legs.
I would have enjoyed seeing this classic boogie board wipeout if I had been sitting on the beach, since then it wouldn’t have been me I was seeing. However, the experience from inside my rapidly rotating head was quite a bit less pleasant, in large part because of the pain caused by a sudden cramp in my right calf that must have resulted by the leg being twisted in some fashion that I don’t want to imagine even now, comfortably seated as I am at our kitchen table, about to go shopping and dining in Lahaina.
To my credit, I stayed out long enough after that to repeat many times a post-wipeout mantra, “get right back on the horse after you’ve been thrown off,” and soon caught some nice waves, having learned that a barrel wave should be ridden after it breaks, not while it is breaking. Later in the day I also got to experience the rare “double decker” boogie board ride. This is produced by a special confluence of events in which boarder A, namely me, catches a wave just in front of boarder B, namely another tourist about my size, and the wave then catapults boarder B onto the back of boarder A, where he stays all the way into the beach.
I was pleased that, in addition to my massive wipeout earlier in the day, I also was able to provide this unusual boogie boarding entertainment to those beachgoers who were watching. On my next (unaccompanied) wave, I paddled past a woman who said to me, “It was great seeing that guy ride in on your back.”
If I’d had my wits about me I could have come up with some comebacks: “He wasn’t heavy; that was my brother” (you have to be of a certain age to get that one, though), or, “Oh, it was a guy? Thank heavens. I thought it was a sea turtle trying to mate with me.” (If anyone has better ideas for comebacks, please suggest them; I’d like to be more adequately prepared for any conversations I might have after the next time a stranger rides a wave into the beach lying on my back.)