About a month ago I fulfilled a life goal of surfing a particular wedging beach break on a military base an hour south of here. Security was tight, but I had an angle. It’s all about access. When we arrived and got our first glance at the ocean, it didn’t look that big or anything. The waves would come in sideways and bowl incredibly as they were distorted and amplified by a deep offshore trench. It was about 1-5 feet on the face. The waves would come out of deep water, nearly invisible, double in size and unload on the sandy bottom very near the beach and breakwater. A 3 foot wave can destroy you. My second wave rolled me pretty good. I knew it was shallow so I put my hands out and stopped my face from hitting the sand by about 4 inches. This is par for the course. In the process, water flooded my sinuses as I bounced around in the mud and froth. Or so I thought. I blew my nose to get the water out and it felt like a big booger was hanging out that wouldn’t quit. I thought “wow, super-booger…” and grabbed it as a feeble attempt at personal hygiene. I pulled and felt something sliding deep in my head. It broke off and I looked in my hand and there was 2.5 inches of some grey-red ‘thing’. At first I thought it was a bloody snot.
Then I thought it was something from my Bali trip weeks earlier that got knocked loose from the dirty socal water. Then I started to panic. It was like biting into an apple and seeing half a worm. Now I was that apple. I blew more and pulled out another 2″ long piece. I believe it was a blood worm that somehow got in there when I face planted by the bottom. I guess every 5000th nose full of water, you get a blood worm in there. Convinced it was out, I refocused and got a deeper tube than my entire Bali trip. All the drops were air drops since it jacks so much. I got out just as Chad Barba and Bob Forbes (old school pro body boarders) showed up. They said “Hi” because I guess they saw my last wave which was insane. (My new Toobs board works great.) I get back to my car and my nose still feels congested. No big deal cuz it always feels like this after a pummeling beach break.
I lean over and blow and things don’t seem right. My friend Ernie asks if I am OK. I don’t answer. I say let’s go. I am headed to Santa Barbara at 80 mph, trying to get the ‘congestion’ out with my power violence tape cranking in the radio the whole way. I run in the bath room and start blowing my nose. Nothing but snot, that doesn’t feel quite right. I am panicking again, sucking wind through an open mouth. Longs Drugs has spray decongestants and is open for another 30 minutes. There is tequila in the kitchen to snort. I have insurance. I put my fingers in each ear, plug one nostril blow harder than I ever have, ensuring my brains don’t come squirting out my ears. My efforts pay off and an inch of something drapes down my upper lip. My former girlfriend Ellie is hiding in the other room, too afraid to watch. I grab this new appendage gingerly and blow like Louie Prima while pulling and trying to maintain my cool. 5 more inches of blood worm come out. My sinuses are surprisingly clear. The exorcism was a success. A pale shell of a man stares back at me from the water spotted mirror, holding a red line of goo on a tissue like a trophy, waiting for a shower of champagne.