When I got to the beach on Sunday morning after what can only be called a nap – three hours a night is not recommended – I was jazzed to see that the sun was barely starting to rise and I knew that I would surf alone for a while. The spot I picked is notorious for frothing crowds when it’s good, but nothing could have prepared me for what would come next. I had already gotten a few pits when I heard a voice from the breakwater say, “Mom, it’s good, it’s good! I’m staying all day! Can you bring us some PB & J’s later?” The voice was squeaky and high, and I felt the cold grip of terror when I understood that my surf session was about to fall victim to the hostile takeover of pre-pubescent rippers.
They all slowly crept down to the beach, bringing their 4’10” boards that resembled large potato chips, and one even had the nerve to bring his wetsuit in a Spider-Man backpack. Their beady little eyes almost glowed red in the twilight. I gritted my teeth and prepared for the worst. These Groms were completely out of control. They somehow scratched into heaving nuggets with their tiny paws and threw spray on their turns that were higher than they were tall. This is the dawn of the Grom takeover. If you really think about it, Groms are much better adapted to surfing than we are. They are forced to eat their vegetables, they have a bed time, they have yet to discover the distracting powers of beer, drugs or girls, and a chest-high wave for us is an overhead death-pit for them. This is a recipe for disaster. As time passed, I went from catching a wave every set to catching a wave every second or third set. They were catching everything that came through without tiring, as I paddled lethargically with bloodshot eyes and a BAC that would probably put any one of them in a coma.
What is different about this new age we live in? Are the morning cartoons not as good as they used to be? Is there more sugar in breakfast cereals now and kids need to expend their tweaked morning energy before they’re allowed back in the house? These are all valid questions, but I doubt we will get any concrete answers. Groms are a dangerous and mysterious breed, and I think only Jane Goodall could mingle with them and pick off her fair share of waves. I, however, am not a scientist: I lack the skills required to fully understand these majestic creatures. I didn’t understand how one Grom resembling a baby Tarzan could watch me get barreled, only to look me right in the eyes and drop in on me. I was irate, but I’m definitely not about to lower myself to yelling at a kid who will go to school tomorrow and learn the alphabet. Instead, I took the high road and just cheered Tarzan on, shouting “Yea Grom! You rip!” Even though deep down I wanted to tell him that he was no longer invited to my birthday party.