Pancho and Archy
Pancho and Archy got into it today at my home break. 3- to 5-foot “Fair to Good” combo swell and 90-degree weather in October. I’m unsure where we all come from when it’s “Fair to Good” but it’s a sight to see. It looks like a swap meet in the parking lot. Surfboard stands. Rinse Kits. Van conversions of all persuasions. Dogs and their owners. Wet wetsuits, changing mats and a wild array of surfboard shapes litter the ground. There is a holiday atmosphere even though it’s a weekday morning in fall. College kids. Retirees. Waiters and waitresses. Pool guys and firefighters. Even high schoolers find it easy to make the call to skip first and second period when they see the green on the report. The local economy and education system must feel the effects of “Fair to Good.” It actually gives me a jolt of joy seeing how quickly surfers still abandon any and all responsibility for “Fair to Good.” These overhyped SW swells can be great, but they can also be seriously lully and tensions tend to rise when we’re all out there waiting for sets. And today, on a day when you could comfortably carve a pumpkin in a bikini and sets were as beautiful as they were rare, locals Archy and Pancho got into it.
It started with Pancho griping at someone who paddled around him. A stranger. And Pancho being the local who is generally grumpy, he couldn’t let it go. Even after several other sets and waves were ridden.
“Sorry is where you should have started,” he said to the 25-or so-year-old dude on a fish and wearing a bucket hat who had allegedly paddled around him a few sets back.
“What…?” The dude said, hesitating slightly.
“Uh, I said, sorry is where you should have started you fucking idiot,” Pancho continued, now making sure everyone in the area knew he was still upset.
Then Archy entered. Archy is a regular out here too. I wouldn’t call this friendly fire, but both are locals. They aren’t exactly homies. Archy is the more consistent of the two. Pancho has put in time through the years too, but he’s less consistent than Archy. Archy always wins the water time award. On good and bad days, he’s there. His license plate reads: “Surfed” and he makes sure the person tailgating him could never call him a liar. He wears a long beard and a bald head. His beard is often blue. It was blue today.
“Hey kid, don’t worry about this guy he’ll get over it and I’m not going to let him ruin my surf either,” Archy said casually trying to defuse the ramble of Pancho so we can all enjoy the beautiful day.
“Arch, don’t fucking butt in. I’ll kick your ass too! I’ll kick your ass with my hand tied behind my back right now you fucking kook! Archy! I been ready to fight you for years!” Pancho then paddled straight at Archy. The two sat close. Two older men, eye to eye, surfing on this stunning day. Archy was in defuse mode, speaking calmly, putting the idea of violence far away. Archy was ready to move on, to keep surfing.
“I’m not letting you ruin my surf man,” he said and paddled away. Pancho spent the next 20 minutes verbally abusing Archy to anyone within earshot while Archy paddled down the beach and stroked into a bomb left. Pancho sat griping like a schoolyard bully — which he basically is. But he’s a local, and so you say hello, and you make do when he’s not being a tool and talk with him. But today, “Fair to Good” and all, he couldn’t take it. Someone paddled around him and he couldn’t let it go. He griped like a bully for 30 minutes and then life resumed.
I drove home and stopped at Trader Joes where the sidewalk outside the store was littered with pumpkins and sunflowers. A friend called me as I walked through the dry 90 degree heat of the parking lot.
“How was that Archy and Pancho argument!” he said.
I kind of smiled. “I didn’t mind it,” I said. It wasn’t violent, just some “Fair to Good” tension, but inside the argument was energy. Good strong surf energy. Electrical currents of surfing tension that arrive when the waves are good and the weather hot. The North Pacific is in training camp, locals are excited for the coming winter, but summer crowds aren’t gone quite yet and arrive in force when it’s “Fair to Good.” All that energy out there, swirling in the local lineup reminded me how passionate we all are about our wave riding and it made me appreciate how things once were. And sometimes, how they still are. —Travis Ferré