20 August, 2015 20 August, 2015

The Thinking Girl’s Guide to Life With a Surfer – by: Melissa Volker

“If you’re going to have a guy in your life it might as well be a surfer,” writes Melissa Volker in ‘The Thinking Girl’s Guide to Life With a Surfer’, which is her entry into Write To Surf – Zag’s surf journo competition with epic prizes by Billabong up for grabs (see details below).




It’s an unforgettable day. The morning haze lifts as the sun starts its daily ascent, scattering sequins across the ocean. A creature of splendid proportions emerges from the sea, clad in neoprene, and high on stoke. But he’s not the only one on cloud nine. It’s a sparkling day because you realize That Surfer is into You. Not because you need to be liked or need a man or anything like that of course. But when he switches on the charm, brings the love, and makes it all about you, the good times do start to roll.

Let me advise you right here, that, if you are going to have a guy in your life it might as well be a surfer. They come in marvellous prototypes like John-John Florence or Jordy Smith. But, if you’re into retro, the Kelly Slater or Twiggy Baker models are quite sought after. These boys are lean and tanned, they have big pectoral muscles from all that paddling and abdominals that are the stuff of dreams. And, let’s not forget the hips. They are sculptured into shape by the pop-ups and squats that form the essence of riding a wave.

Anyway, one unforgettable day you realize that one of these hotties is into you, and it’s dazzling and it’s delicious, and before you know it he’s down on one knee and suddenly you’re Mrs Dude.

Right. You may want to pay attention now. Sit up, wipe the Tropitone smudges off your sunglasses and focus. There are some things you need to know to keep those Von Zippers the colour of your favourite flower.

1. Kooks Take Off on the First Wave.


You’ve seen him, he’s giving you the eye, but he hasn’t made a move. Count to ten, sister, give him some space. He’s no kook. He likes to watch the horison, let a few sets roll in and see what’s around. Be patient. Stay cool. He’ll paddle over in a bit.

2. Car Trouble
I know, I know, you’re thinking I mean this:


But really, I mean this:


Despite his kind consideration, love and devotion, when it comes to his vehicle, there will be very little space for you. And, when there is, be prepared to dust a Sahara-load of sand off the seat and dab a lavender soaked hankie to your nose. Wet Speedos and damp-for-three-days neoprene have a way of emitting malodorous fumes.

3. Size Doesn’t Matter
And here I am talking yours. You enter a surf shop and browse through the clothes while he’s stocking up on Mr Zog’s. The sizes are startling. You’d be lucky to get the jeans past your usually-quite-acceptable-size-ten knees. These are mostly clothes made for girls who were washed up on a desert island and then forced to live as castaways for three months without food, their semi-lifeless skinny bodies finally rescued by a man from a surf brand who mistakes them for actual women. They make the Survivor contestants who get to the last round look chubby.

She’s weeping with hunger, no doubt.

But real keeper girls like us? We don’t fit in those clothes. At all. And you know what? It’s okay. The world is full of shops with items above a size zero.

4. The Beach Change is Organic
It’s cute when they’re young. They stand next to their gear-stuffed car, ease in and out of their wetsuits, a towel boldly knotted at the waist. But you’re a keeper, remember, so you’re in it for the long run with this guy. There will come a time when the towel needs to be bigger or the knot needs to be looser in order for him to successfully execute the parking lot change. The hopping-on-one-foot-as-I-get-into-my-wetsuit-dance is best done at home, not to mention the enormous, breathless struggle, after his once-a-week-surf, to get it off. Mention it to your boy over a craft beer. It will go down more smoothly.


While I’m on that subject, I got a glimpse of my future at Muizenberg beach the other day. An elderly stranger-surfer asked me to pull up his zip. Errm. That of his wetsuit, you know, the vertebral area. And I couldn’t. I pulled. I re-adjusted. I put my car keys down in the sand. Time stopped, voices echoed. Panic reigned. The only redeeming feature was that because he was neither young, nor flexible, he was most grateful (as was I) when he was finally sealed in neoprene.


5. Commando is Unavoidable.
Either there is no time for foundation garments when only a towel lies between you and public indecency. Or the Speedo is; 1. lost; 2. mouldy; or 3. without a drawstring. Therefore the underwear is wet and used.

He’ll pull on a dry pair of baggies/jeans over fresh air, match it with his worst T-Shirt and a reasonable but incongruous v-neck jersey and he’ll be all set, pleased as punch.

6. It’s Not Only Beethoven Who Goes Deaf.


They’re all over Muizenberg. The old surfers who can no longer hear. They yell at each other within a two meter radius, while doing the aforementioned one-legged-wetsuit hop. So, although expertly carving up the face of beautiful waves, your hottie is also taking on water. Cold water. And that’s the thing that causes Surfer’s Ear. (a.k.a Not Listening).


So, while you may think you’re not dazzling him with your chit chat quite like you used to, it’s not that at all, sister. Just up the volume and the honeymoon is back.

7. There is No Pressure to Surf
Life with your hottie will go on. Honeymoons and babies, careers and first days of school. You’ll layer it with holidays and anniversaries, Mac and Cheese and taking out the garbage.. Your memories start to merge in and out of surf breaks like Seal Point, Cave Rock, Vic Bay, Snake Park, Long Beach and Supertubes. You’ve seen them all from under the brim of your hat, over the rim of a paperback, or over the bucket and spade you brought for the toddlers. You may start to regret that you’ve never seen it from backline, but take that thought path with care.

I, having faced the reality that surfing is harder than I thought (after all, it takes supreme effort to get a bum like that) saw a new sport. Stand Up Paddle. How hard could that be? It’s not like you even have to catch a wave. You can pose at backline, paddle parallel to the shore and impress friends. The sharks won’t get you and your bikini top stays in place. Right?

I tested it out in the frigid, waveless waters of Hout Bay. I hoped the rumours of E-Coli were false, but clamped my mouth shut anyway. I picked out an ankle basher, and the hubs yelled encouragement from the beach.


“Paddle babe, paddle,” he bellowed, while a friend watched the offspring. (After all, I couldn’t ask him to multitask as child minder and the NSRI). For three sweet seconds I rode. And then I felt like Leonardo Di Caprio at the end of Titanic, engulfed in the icy arms of the Atlantic, soon feeling the scrape of the cold ocean floor. I could see my hottie rolling in the sand and he wasn’t on fire. He was laughing.

I’m no quitter so I pressed on. This time in San Diego, California. La Jolla beach. I was somewhere between Rusty Boardhouse and Black’s Beach, paddling out into the Pacific Ocean. The hubs was long gone, he was at backline, treating me like a seasoned pro after I survived Hout Bay. Suddenly, a set rolled in. It was the stuff of Mavericks to my untrained eye. The waves looked menacing and the beach, an out of reach delight.

Before I knew it I was again swept off my feet, but this time not by a diamond ring. The set rolled in and there was no escape. It rolled me with it, and also an unsuspecting surfer who was taken out by my tombstoning SUP. (The trouble with a SUP leash is its length.) Somehow it wrapped itself around my ankles, and I found myself, ankles bound, SUP parallel to the waves. Who knows where the paddle was. The wiped-out-by-me surfer was facing the beach, gathering his wits and getting the water out of his nose. I braced myself as the next wave broke. The SUP hit the surfer again.


All the while, the hottie I gave my life to was gone, backline was his friend, the impact zone was mine and mine alone. Well, mine and one black-and-blue surfer, who through gritted teeth said, “I think you need to take a minute.”

By the time I got out, I was shaking. The Pacific taught me some lessons all my years alongside the Indian and the Atlantic had not. I paddled up and down, grinning with false cheer at the hubs. He smiled, raised his paddle, sure that I was okay.

“Later, Babe.”

Off he went, catching wave after wave. Up and down I bobbed at back line, my eyes scouring the water for White Sharks. (I’m from False Bay, give me a break). When bubbles broke the surface nearby, I knew I was done (panic drove from my mind the fact that it’s scuba divers, not sharks, who blow bubbles at La Jolla beach on a Saturday morning).

How was I to get back to shore? The impact zone was not a place I wished to return. I eyed the swimming area. Hardly any waves there, so I headed over to slink unnoticed to shore. Only it doesn’t work like that in California. They have loud hailers.

“Will the stand up paddle boarder please move out of the bathing area,” the voice boomed over La Jolla beach.


Back in Cape Town. I’m still trying to SUP. Not to impress my hottie. I impress him already. Rather I try SUPing to impress myself by overcoming my fears.

But what a journey it is, life with a surfer. That man on the wave has carried me from beach to beach on the ride of my life. So yes. I will never forget that day. That day a surfer dazzled me. And neither should you if one has dazzled you. But consider this guide if you’re in it for the long run, keep it real, sister, and your glasses will stay the colour of your favourite flower.

Opinions expressed in Write To Surf entries are not necessarily those of Zigzag.
Click here to check out all the published stories from our Write To Surf competition.


Send your stories to calvin@zigzag.co.za. One submission will be selected every six weeks to appear in Zigzag magazine. The selected submission will also receive a hamper from Billabong. At the end of the year, we will select and send one aspirant journalist from the competition on an all expenses paid assignment for a major feature in Zigzag. Zigzag retains the right to use any work submitted for the Zag Surf Journo competition on zigzag.co.za as outlined in the rules and terms of the competition. Zigzag reserves the right not to award a published winner in the magazine every six weeks, depending on the quality of entries. Zigzag is not obligated to run any and all entries submitted, either online or in print. Zigzag retains the right to edit all work submitted for brevity and / or clarity. Please note: Prize hampers will only be delivered within South Africa.

The Billabong prize hamper includes: 1 x Billabong Wetsuit; 1 x Billabong Hoodie; 1 x Billabong Cap; 1 x Von Zipper Sunnies; 2 x Da Kine traction pads.



  1. Brian Rossi
    19 August, 2015 at 2:49 pm · Reply

    that prize pack tho… score!

  2. tracey
    19 August, 2017 at 5:35 pm · Reply

    Wow Missy, a very impressive article.
    I really enjoyed your honesty.
    Well done!

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