Sunday, June 20, 2010

"Making a Disabled vet's Dream Come True"

About a week ago, I met what I thought was a "Kid" who wanted to learn to surf, I call him a "kid" because when I met him, because of his looks and mannerisms, I thought he was in his late teens or early 20's. He told me that he had been surfing Ocean Beach in San Francisco by himself, three times, and I was the first surfer he had met since moving here. I told him I was always looking for people to surf with and would call him the next time I went out. I got sick for a week, but called him Friday to assure him that I had not forgotten him and wanted to take him surfing at the Jetty in HMB (a much more appropriate beginner spot) for International Surfing Day, which is today.

Yesterday, he called me four times, because when I called him Friday he got confused and thought I meant I was going to take him out Saturday, I thought he was just confused because he was a stoner, but once I stared spending some time with him, it became more and more apparent he was more than stoned.

I don't know for sure, but I'm pretty sure he's suffering from some kind of impairment he sustained in the war. His behavior is markedly child-like, more than I can justify by him smoking pot. He told me on the way to The Jetty that I was "Making a Disabled Vet's Dream Come True" by helping him learn to surf. Already suspicious that there was something more than pot at work here, I asked him what his disability was, and he told me that he had a plate in his hand, his ankle and his face, as well as PTSD and brain bruising.

Sadly, I think his child-like behavior is more than grom enthusiasm or stoner giddiness. I'm pretty sure he's not all there, and my room mate who met him briefly who is a nurse practitioner thinks so as well.

We lucked out with Jetty conditions yesterday, when we pulled up a couple of obviously experienced surfers told us it was mushy. I'm guessing that they spotted my short boards in the car and assumed we were more experienced and picky than we actually were. I told them it was only his third time and that it was probably perfect for us. Like a lot of veteran surfers north of Santa Cruz, they were more than happy to offer advice and pointed out my favorite semi-secret learning spot just south of the more popular take off point. I call it semi-secret, because not that many people surf the little mini beach break I like just south of the jetty itself, I've never understood exactly why.

It was windy, but the waves were near-perfect, at least for beginners. And we had the normally crowded jetty to ourselves. I think a lot of people gave up because the waves weren't great and the weather wasn't great, but we lucked out and hit the tide just right and the waves kept getting better and better after we arrived.

I know this guy has a crush on me, and I'm not sure what to do. Even though He's an attractive guy, I'm going to have to tell him I'm not interested and I have to admit the reason is that I'm not is that he is obviously impaired and I need more intellectual stimulation than just a really sweet, good looking guy who seems to have the mental faculty of a child.

He told me how much money he got for disability (one thing that makes me think he's not all there because that's not the kind of information you volunteer to someone you've just met) and while it's not a lot, I'm sure its enough that the government would think you could live on if you were completely unable to work a normal job, and he's obviously not suffering from any kind of physical disability. He told me he spends his day at his art studio downtown, and I saw a flier for it in his room, and without snooping too much, I'm pretty sure its some kind of a day-program for vets.

I really do want to help him learn to surf, and would regardless, but now I feel a little bit of a sense of responsibility to make sure he doesn't accidentally kill himself on OB. Fortunately, I could tell he's physically able to handle it, as he was a swimmer and wrestler in high school and has the strength required to be a marine. The common sense though, I'm not sure. I think I'm going to need help with this one.

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