Mini-Trump is in the House!

 


It seemed like just yesterday we dropped Tanner off for his freshman year at SDSU (read about that here.) The year flew. Before we knew it, he was baaaaaack!

Or at least I thought it was Tanner. On second thought, I was convinced someone took my sweet thespian son, and sent a frat boy with an insatiable appetite home in his place. In hindsight, there were some definite red flags, for instance, when Tanner asked for Sperry’s for Christmas…

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….or started posting pics like this to his Instagram.

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Still, during those first few days after he arrived home Jimmy and I were constantly looking at each other wondering, “Who is this kid?”

From the get go, Tanner monopolized my kitchen. He broiled chicken breasts slicked in coconut oil and sprinkled with Mrs. Dash’s from morning ’til night. His rice cooker was constantly burbling too, its rattling lid announcing a new batch every hour on the hour like some bizarre Japanese cuckoo clock. I watched in horror as Tanner gorged himself on a pound of chicken and a huge KT-22 mountain-sized bowl of steamed rice four times a day. Pretty soon we started calling him Jethro from the Beverly Hillbillies.

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I was constantly nagging him to wipe the rice clumps off my counter and eat more slowly.

Tanner had also become a gym rat, pumping iron religiously, sometimes twice a day. At home he constantly flexed in the mirror, and said things like, ” ‘Miring’ these swole gains, mom? All natty, baby.”

For the life of me I had no clue as to what he was saying. Could the Berlitz language school help me speak Meathead, I wondered? Luckily, he translated: “Are you admiring my big, swollen muscles, mother? I do not shoot ‘roids into my ass to achieve these results. They are all natural.”

Another thing: Tanner didn’t want to surf anymore. He hammered us to let him throw “dagers“—day ragers—and actually thought his summer “job” was to achieve Hulk-like veins. “What?” I asked. “Do you actually think those grotesque bodybuilders look good?”

But one day the Creatine powder hit the fan. We were perusing our absentee ballots when Tanner announced he was voting for Trump. I was mortified. Anyone who knows me knows I was raised by Weezie in the most liberal, Jimmy-Carter -lovin’ Tait Avenue cottage this side of the Mississippi.

I thought about all the times we’d volunteered at the family shelter when the boys were little so they could learn compassion. All those Project Cornerstone anti-bullying lessons I presented in their classrooms. And how, on the morning of the ’04 election, Tanner, Sax and I taped homemade “Circle-Slash W” signs on our bike helmets and rode to the polls. Hadn’t my liberal views seeped in via osmosis?

“You are NOT seriously voting for Trump, are you?” I asked.

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Make America Frat Again. Photo cred: Anders

“Yep,” he said. Then, he started gleefully chanting, “Build the wall! Build the wall! Build the wall!”

That was the last straw. For months I had pined for Tanner to come home. Now, I couldn’t wait for him to leave.

I was sick of him checking himself in the mirror. I was sick of my house smelling like freakin’ Chick-Fil-A. I was sick of steamed rice sticking to the bottoms of my bare feet.

But when I dug deep, I realized I was mostly sad. I missed my son. My surf buddy, that sensitive, guitar strumming, John Mayer singing kid who performed in musicals and was voted “Most Likely to be in a Boy Band.” I missed that guy. I had nothing in common with this gainzy frat bro.

I felt better when I talked to other moms who were experiencing the same let down. My friend, Amy, who is the sweetest, crunchiest pacifist mama on the planet, survived her son joining the army. Instead of being crushed, she embraced his decision whole heartedly. She was astute enough to realize he felt his life lacked structure and that’s what attracted him to the military. She also reminded me that she and I used to be taneroxics when we were at SDSU, tanning by the pool, bodies slathered in Blue Bonnet margarine. “That was our thing. This is Tanner’s thing,” Amy said. And she was right.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized when our children are in the new universe of college, they are trying on different personas that may be different from the way they were before. If I was going to have a good relationship with Tanner, I needed to accept him for who he was.

It wasn’t easy at first. But I’ve made a concerted effort to stop nagging him when he shovels in the food. Instead, I inject humor. “I read that we should savor our food by chewing each bite for 20 seconds. Let’s try it.” And we both crack up. Or I’ll send him a funny text from the grocery store…

"This looks right up your alley," I'll say.
“This new frozen food brand looks right up your alley,” I’ll say.

I also try to find common ground. “Hey, I just read in Us that Carrie Underwood curls 20 pounds. I’m wimping out at 12 lbs. Maybe my end of summer goal could be to curl 20. Can you help me get some gainz?”

“I’m down,” Tanner said.

Summer is still young, but these days our household is reunited and it feels so good.

When it comes to politics though, Jethro and I have agreed to disagree.

***

**Thanks, Tan, for always being a good sport & my muse.**

Debbie Downer Does San Diego

Tanner and I were flying down south for a musical theater audition at SDSU. I saw the sojourn as the perfect mother-son bonding opportunity. After all, I had to milk every moment before he left for college.

“Don’t mess up, Kimmy,” Jimmy said before we left. “I need you on your A-game.”

We arrived to unseasonably warm mid-February weather. Everyone was in a glorious mood. Everyone except Tanner. Buds jammed in his ears, eyes glued to his phone, he totally ignored me.

On the morning of the BIG DAY, I ran through the La Jolla Cove where we celebrated our boy’s first birthday with a cookout and cupcakes 18 years ago.

We celebrated his very first birthday at the Cove so I tapped the same picnic table for good audition luck.

How quickly the years passed. Anticipating life without Tanner belting show tunes and dirtying every pan with his muscle man meals made me feel blue.

Tanner’s audition wasn’t until four so after my run I suggested lunch at Puesta taqueria in downtown La Jolla.

After we sat down, I pointed across the street. “There’s my favorite restaurant, Herringbone.”

“Hrrmmp,” he said. “More like Pricey-bone.”

“This menu sure looks good!” I said.

“Uh-oh,” Tanner said. “‘Not guaranteed to be cooked in a gluten free environment’—NOT good.’”

“If we alert the waitress, I’m sure she’ll be on it.”

“Achoooooo!” Tanner sneezed. “Oh no, I think I”m catching a cold!

Womp. Womp. Who was I dining with? Debbie Downer?
Womp. Womp. Who the heck was I dining with–Debbie Downer?

I chalked Tanner’s grumpy mood up to pre-audition nerves and tried to keep the mood sunny.

Speaking of sunny, Windansea Beach was a few blocks away. I proposed a quick post-lunch swim to help dry his stuffy nose.

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I bodysurfed in the warm water. Tanner sat on the beach checking his watch.

“We should go,” he yelled.

“Five more minutes!” I pleaded.

We returned to the hotel with plenty of time. Blissed out from the beach, I leisurely ironed his chino’s while he lingered in the shower. By the time we climbed in the car, it was 3:15. I felt a twinge of panic.

It’ll be tight but we’ll make it, I thought…until we pulled out of the hotel driveway. It took fifteen tortuous minutes just to crawl one mile onto the freeway ramp. SD traffic had become as brutal as LA’s.

Tanner was livid. Smoke was pouring from his ears.
Tanner was livid. Smoke was pouring from his ears.

And who could blame him?

How could I be so irresponsible? How could I misjudge rush hour traffic? Why couldn’t the beach have waited until after his audition? Jimmy’s pep talk echoed in my ears, Don’t mess up, A-game Kimmy.

As we merged onto the 52, I prayed for empty lanes only to find a river of red brake lights. It was now 3:40. And SDSU was still fifteen miles away.

“We’re NOT gonna make it,” Tanner said. “If I’m late, I WILL NOT go to my audition.”

Inside I was freaking out. Tanner’s slot was 4:00 to 4:10—exactly enough time to perform two monologues and 32 bars of “I Chose Right” from Baby. There were no other audition days. No other weekends. This was Tanner’s big chance.

Then an idea hit. “Pull up the audition email on your phone,” I said. “We can call the theatre department.”

“It’ll never work!” he said.

“We have to try!”

He dialed the number on speaker.

1st ring—we are so screwed.

2nd ring—NO way anyone is going to answer the Friday  before President’s Day weekend.

3rd ring—Tanner is never going to forgive me.

Fourth ring—Click. “Hello?”

Then some guy, no, some Saint named Peter answered. St. Peter told Tanner, “No problem, we’ll squeeze you in when you get here.”

We screeched in at 4:25 and Tanner bolted for the Don Powell Theater.

He found me after his audition, ecstatic. “They were scribbling notes during my song. I think they liked me.”

Relief washed over me like the aqua waves at Windansea.

In the car, we cranked Hall and Oates “You Make My Dreams Come True” and sang at the top of our lungs. We were BONDING. Finally!

The following morning, Valentine’s Day, I woke yet again to grumpy Tanner.

I brunched alone at Caroline’s Cafe; he stayed in bed checking his Twitter.

Sitting on the deck overlooking La Jolla Shores, I noticed a cute towhead nearby smothering his mother in syrupy pancake kisses. Melancholy crept back in. I envied her. Time with her adoring child stretched before her endlessly like the white sand below while mine was vanishing.

I was excited for Tanner to begin this new chapter, but part of me wished he could stay.

I returned to the hotel and we packed. Tanner surprised me when he suggested a quick boogie boarding session at the Shores.

We hustled to the beach and rode waves side by side, meeting in the swirl of white water. I looked over at Tanner, his lips curled into an excited O, audition behind him, not a care in the world. My heart swelled.

Twenty minutes later he called, “We better get going. We don’t want to miss our flight.”

I did not beg for one more wave.

Okay, maybe just one.

But as I glided across that last wave, a sheet of celadon glass, I thought maybe instead of regarding our time with our children as finite, we should think of those bonds as constantly shifting, yet always there. Like the sand and sea.

***

Last weekend we took Tanner to SD for good, of course narrowly avoiding missing our 8 a.m. flight.

“I’m going to miss you guys,” he said, “but I’m gonna love never being late for anything again.”

Gonna miss you too, Waz.
Gonna miss you too, Waz.

Bunny Cakes

Tanner’s girlfriend, Blaire, has to be the coolest chick ever. Prom was only six days away, and Tanner still hadn’t officially asked her. Blaire hadn’t uttered a peep but I was getting antsy.

I’ve been obsessed with Prom Asks (aka “Promposals”) since I wrote this for the LG Patch and discovered boys go all out when it comes to procuring a prom date these days. Scavenger hunts, mid-class serenades, Post-it covered cars. One kid at Tanner’s school even got help from Walter Freakin’ White (watch the youtube here). “Stefan’s proposal made all the major TV outlets for God’s sake!” I said. “We gotta get on this!”

Tanner couldn’t be bothered. He was busy pumping iron, playing X-Box and d*cking around as usual.

Lucky for him, we had an ace in the hole: Jimmy Ratcliff, master baker. A few years back Jimmy made Saxon the coolest SpongeBob Squarepants cake ever, so I threw down the gauntlet.

Let’s make Blaire a bunny cake!  She loves bunnies, especially her pet bunny, Marlowe.

Meet Marlowe, the world's most adorable bunny.
Meet Marlowe, world’s most adorable bunny.

So while Tanner was working hard at school d*cking around in APES class, Jimmy rushed home between patients to bake Blaire a cake.

Jimmy begins performing his bunnyectomy. haha! Get it? Foot doctor--Bunionectomy?
Jimmy gets busy performing his bunnyectomy. haha! Get it? Foot doctor–Bunionectomy?

As he performed surgery on the bunny’s ear which broke mid-transfer, I, his trusty assistant, asked why he liked making cakes.

“There’s something cathartic about it,” he said.

First, Jimmy iced the bunny a frothy, fluffy white.

Then he gave him Junior Mint peepers, and a pink Jelly Belly nose. After carefully cutting out a paper mold, Jimmy sprinkled the inner ears with pink glitter candy.

With surgeon-like precision, Jimmy uses forceps to finesse the black licorice whiskers.
With surgeon-like precision, Jimmy used forceps to finesse the bunny’s black licorice whiskers.

After school Tanner made a hot pink sign to go with the cake,”I NEED SOMEBUNNY TO GO TO PROM. YOU DOWN?”

Shakespeare got nothing on home boy.

It wasn’t Bryan Cranston and I doubt we made CNN’s ticker, but hey, low-key is how the Ratty Pack rolls.

Then we raced over to Blaire’s. Tanner put the bunny cake on her door step and hid in the bushes. He even let me stalk them from the neighbor’s yard.

Blaire loved her cake, and we, I mean, Tanner felt such a sense of accomplishment when she said yes.

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When we got home, we, I mean, Tanner was on a promposal high. “Gotta go work out at the gym, hashtag gains,” he said. “Later ‘nade.”

Luckily Saxon was chilling at his desk. “Listen. I have the BEST idea for your junior prom ask next year. What you’re gonna do is take your girl to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk on the Skyglider…”

“So far so good,” he said.

“Then on the car in front you can put a sign up that says ‘PROM?’ and when you get off, I’ll be waiting right at the bottom with a bottle of Martinelli’s Sparkling Cid—”

“Wait—what?” he interrupted. “You’re gonna be there? I don’t think so.”

Maybe one proposal will have to last this Momzilla a lifetime.

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The Salty Dog

Yesterday morning Jimmy and I jetted over the hill to Santa Cruz for a super quick surf session at Pleasure Point. We paddled out to Second Peak. Jimmy caught some bombs. It was big and steep and I only caught 2 waves.

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The good part of the morning: Surfer Showers! This is a little secret wherein you fill a big gallon jug with the hottest water possible, strip off your wetsuit and luxuriate in that piping hot water before frostbite sets in. It truly is ecstasy.

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The bad part of the morning: NO TIME TO STOP AT VERVE :((((( (best coffee in town!)

Verve has the best whip cream on the planet.
Verve has the best whip cream on the planet.

Dr. Jimmy had to haul ass to work to see patients—he didn’t even have time for a proper shower. I love that… a salty, sunkissed podiatrist at your service!

This Little Piggy

Recently Jimmy had a podiatry conference in Chicago. He was giving a workshop on PRP injections—whatever that is. I’d never been to Chicago, so I decided to tag along.

What a beautiful city. We loved running along frozen Lake Michigan. And the cool architecture! Jimmy was obsessed with the “corn cob” buildings from the opening credits of The Bob Newhart Show.

But let’s be honest, we were there to eat.

In my hot little hand, I held a list of 30 of our chef pal, Forrest’s two chef pals’ (former Chicagoans) fave places. Thirty restaurants.

So many choices, so little time.

The first night we checked out Girl and the Goat.

I don’t watch Top Chef, but apparently Season 4 winner, Stephanie Izard owns the joint. The place was slammed. As expected goat empanadas and goat stew were on the menu. Also braised beef tongue and the must-order dish, wood-fired pig face. Our bossy waitress told us we didn’t order enough. Truthfully, none of the selections grabbed us. Especially not poor Wilbur’s mug. We were definitely Team Charlotte.

We opted for the sautéed octopus and some other meh dishes that were way oversalted. Had the chefs raided the Morton Salt HQ’s we’d passed on the way in from the airport or what?

As we paid, we noticed our neighbors tucking into a pinkish patty served under an egg sunny side up with shoestring potatoes.

Yep, the pig face patty.
Yep, the pig face patty.

“How is it?” we asked.

“YUMMY!” they raved.

Back at the hotel I perused our list for lunch the following day. Vince and Vani’s cred had plummeted after Girl and the Goat, but Vince is executive chef at Levi’s Stadium, so I figured he knew his stuff.

“Should we go to The Purple Pig?” I asked, yelping it. “Says here, ‘… the chef boldly turns out meaty delicacies like sweet-crunchy pig’s ears with pickled cherry peppers.'”

“What’s with all this meat?” Jimmy asked.

“It’s the nose-to-tail movement.”

“Huh?”

“You know—chefs creatively incorporate every part of the animal from snout to tail into their dishes.”

“Yuck.”

The next day we Ubered to Longman and Eagle located in Chicago’s hipster Logan Square ‘hood. A Bon Appetit darling, the restaurant had made both V&V’s (Vince & Vani’s) top three.

Outside, the restaurant resembled a concrete bunker. A sign read, “EAT SLEEP WHISKEY ROOMS.” We walked into a tiny, dark, gloomy room, the kind of place you’d go after tying up your horse to meet Billy the Kid for a whiskey.

So far not impressed.

We perused the menu. More meat. More pig. Slagel Farms bone marrow with green apple kimchi. Puffed beef rinds, salt and vinegar powder.

Oh hell no. I was still retaining water from the salty Girl and the Goat fare.

Still, with a vintage juke box, vases stuffed with arrows, and a slew of flannel-clad manly men tending bar, Longman and Eagle’s saloon vibe was growing on us.

Our sweet ginger waitress told us there was a three-hour wait on weekends for the coveted 12 tables. She steered us toward the the whole hog crepinette with cheesy grits and collards. Tastily seasoned, the slow braised pork was comfort food heaven.

Stuffed to the gills, we decided to walk the five miles home. It was fun to bundle up and crunch through snow while passing through various neighborhoods. We even spotted several spots included on V&V’s list. By the time we got back to the hotel we were famished. Luckily we had a dinner date with Nina, Tanner’s best childhood pal, who attends Columbia College.

Tanner made Nina's dorm room!
Tanner made Nina’s dorm room!
here's a close up of the picture~Tan 'n' Neens back in the day.
here’s a close up of the picture~Tan ‘n’ Neens back in the day.

V&V, back in our good graces after the superb Longman and Eagle lunch, had recommended DMK Burger Bar so we decided to check it out.

Grass-fed burgers, hand-cut fries and for desert, St. Patty’s Shammy Shakes (chocolate mint ice cream with a Lucky Charms cereal floater). Plus, top notch service. What a score.

Vince and Vani were 2 for 3! Now I wanted to hit their entire list, but the clock was ticking. Our last night was a freebie podiatry dinner at Maestro’s—steaks and lots of foot discussion—but according to our guru, Vince, we wouldn’t leave without visiting The Donut Vault. People line up early, he said, because they run out by 10 am. This hole-in-the-wall was a must.

So the next morning while Jimmy headed to his workshop, I braved the 15 degree weather and bought a box of piping hot, fat, salted caramel old fashioned donuts—worth the frostbite! I also stopped by Eataly, Mario Batali’s sprawling foodie emporium to grab a fresh baguette and charcuterie for the plane ride home. On the way out I noticed chefs in white jackets handing out free pork cheek samples. Pass.

Jimmy and I met in the lobby. “I’m so bloated,” he said. “I can’t eat for a month.”

“Me either,” I said. “By the way, how did your workshop go?”

“Great! I taught 18 doctors how to give PRP injections.”

“What did you guys practice on?”

“Pig’s feet cadavers, of course.”

“Wow, Chi-town chefs really do cook every part of the pig, and they donate whatever’s left to the doctors. Not bad.”

And with that, these two little piggies hopped a plane to Cali and cried wee wee wee all the way home.

Longman and Eagle—we'll be back!
Longman and Eagle—we’ll be back!

Mystery of the Movie Theater Scumbag

 
 
Sit down and buckle up…you are NOT gonna believe my recent traumatic movie theatre-going experience.
 
 
So Sunday night, Jimbo, Sax and I head down to a nearby, newly redone theatre to catch “The Hundred-Foot Journey.” (Indian family opens a gaudy but delish Indian joint across the road from Helen Mirren’s stuffy, Michelin-starred French restaurant in picturesque French countryside.)
 
 
The theatre is packed. (First bad omen.) But we find some decent seats up in the front—not great but not neckache-inducing either.
 
 
After the movie starts, this 20-something guy comes and sits next to me. RIGHT NEXT to me. (Second bad omen) I detest sitting next to anyone in the theater, but I figure it’s time to get over my phobia and just deal for the next 2 hours.
 
 
 
Soon my neighbor pulls out a bottle of red wine and takes a swig from the bottle. Which I didn’t love, but since Jimbo and I have been known to sneak in libations occasionally, again, I tell myself to chill out.
 
This guy is pretty rude throughout the movie. Texting, swigging, rumpling his freakin’ popcorn bag and his CANDY bag he snuck in from the candy shop next door. Not fun.
 
 
Twenty minutes toward the end—CLINK!—he drops his wine bottle. Red wine torpedoes up my leg, soaking my white pants and sandals/bare feet.
Not wanting to make a scene, I hiss:
“Dude! You just spilled your wine all over my pants. NOT COOL.”
He mumbles something smart assed.
 
By the end of the movie, steam is pouring from my ears. After the lights come up, I read him the riot act. He is belligerent. His mom (sitting one row behind us) actually comes to his defense and shushes me.
 
Jimmy calls him an f**ing dick. Not wanting the situation to escalate,
I tell Jimmy to ease up. The punk tells us his name is “James Doe”
(name changed to protect the douchey),
and his dad owns the theatre, and boohoo if I didn’t enjoy my movie going experience.
 
Then he says to Jimmy, “Yeah, bro, you better keep walking!”
Jimmy wants to shove the red wine bottle where it don’t shine, but shows restraint. 
 
 
As I am reporting him to the supervisor, James Doe strides up and repeats his story to the supervisor. Obviously hammered, this guy has NO FEAR. He plays like a drunk, entitled kid proclaiming to own the theatre, and tough shit if I spilled wine down your leg.
Deal with it.
 
 
So! I get home and call my friend who, in fact, owns the theatre. (She has partners so I don’t know if this punk is telling the truth.)
 
 
She says absolutely not, and she is going to get to the bottom of this. She asks me to describe him.
That’s when we go all CSI!
I ask Saxon (known for his attention to detail) what the guy looked like.
He doesn’t miss a beat: “Aloha shirt. A’s cap. Jeremy Renner with baby fat.”
 
BOOM!
 
Next day my friend pulls his image from the movie theatre surveillance cameras, sends it to her partner, supposedly the kid’s “dad.”
 
Her partner recognizes the punk as a kid his son went to school with but hasn’t seen for several years.
BUSTED! James Doe gets an unexpected phone call.
 
Writes a grammatically atrocious apology letter to the “theatre owner” (doesn’t bother to research the owner’s name—nice.) and offers to pick up my dry cleaning bill to get my jeans “back to normal.”
 
I am tempted to tell him my pants are permanently damaged and demand a $200 gift card to my favorite boutique, but instead savor the fact that justice has prevailed,
and we royally busted James Doe!
Also, I take solace in knowing that he must have one hell of a candy/red wine hangover.
 
I am thinking of going into the P.I. biz.
 
spilled wineWhatcha think?
 
 
 

The Old Man & the Sea

If you know Jimmy, then you know tends to be a tad full of himself. He’s always posing shirtless for photos, and boasting about his latest triathlon P.R. (personal record).

“I bring it!” he’ll say. Or “Kim, you’re over your skis with me!” And of course, his trademark flex/brag combo, “Have you ever seen a 49-year-old this yoked?”

Recently something terrible happened. Jimmy turned 50. And like Ethan Hunt’s tape, his ego was dangerously close to self destructing.

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It was time for a MISSION IMPOSSIBLE.

Tanner & Saxon threw down the gauntlet… “Yo bro, you need to catch 50 waves for your 50th b-day.”

“Fiddy for fiddy?” he asked. “BRING IT!”

So, Jimbo hopped a plane with his over-her-skis wife (me!) and two teenage sons and headed to Cabo to try and reach his goal of catching 50 waves in 3 days.

Our hotel of choice, Cabo Surf, was located in front of a surf break called “Old Man’s”—how perfect is that?

As soon as we checked in, Jimmy was on it! He slipped into hibiscus print board shorts. No wetsuit necessary—not when the water was a balmy 73 degrees. Just a thin rash guard to prevent chaffing.

Cabo Surf is home to the Mike Doyle Surf School. Along with co-inventing the boogie board, Mike was a champion surfer and paddler in the ’60s. He hung in Malibu with the original Gidget gang. We kept our eyes peeled for him from the get go.

Mike Doyle, Hermosa Beach circa 1963,
“Tiki” Mike Doyle, Hermosa Beach circa 1963,

That first afternoon was windy with texture on the water. Jimmy easily caught 10 waves—1/5 of his quotient. “Not much competition,” he sniffed. “Frankly, I’m more ripped than all these young bucks a quarter my age.”

Located in the center of the resort overlooking the surf, it's the optimal spot to relax after a grueling sesh.
Located in the center of the hotel overlooking the surf, the jacuzzi is the optimal spot to relax after a sesh.

 

With only 36 nicely appointed rooms, the Cabo Surf has an intimate, laid-back feel. Boards are propped against banana trees and cocopalms, and from dawn until dusk there’s a constant trickle of guests, boards tucked under their arms, cruises across the grounds headed for the sea.

On our first day, I awoke at 8 to find Jimmy’s side of the bed empty. Seconds later he came into the room dripping saltwater, clad in his rasta board shorts which perfectly reflected his chill mood. He’d dawn patrolled it, notching another 5 waves in his surf wax case. He was up to 15, and feeling quite confident. “There was some ‘Ed’ wearing lame reef booties trying to snake me, but I shut him down,” Jimmy boasted over huevos rancheros and gluten free French toast at 7 Seas, the hotel’s open-air restaurant.

After breakfast we headed out for a family surf sesh. It was relatively uncrowed—there were beginners taking lessons, local chicks who ripped, and assorted groms. The vibe was mellow and the break has multiple take off points. Unlike other more punishing spots, Old Man’s has a steep wave, but wipe outs are soft and forgiving.  We caught tons of fun party waves.

After a few hours, we took a break. Twenty-three waves in, Jimmy gloated, “I could have caught way more, but I was in instructor mode with you guys.”  Thanks, dude.

We were kicking back on the beach reading our books when we noticed Jimmy’s ripped six-pack was looking more like a seven-pack.

“Dad! It looks like you have a tumor!” Saxon grimaced. Turns out all that board-on-bone contact caused Jimmy’s previously broken rib, an old surf injury, to become inflamed. We started calling him Frankenstein Rib, Frankenrib, then finally McRib for short.

 

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After reading a few chapters and tossing around the football, Jimmy announced he was heading back out for another sesh, his 3rd of the day.

“McRib, you better chill!” we warned.

But Jimmy ignored us. “Oh yeah, you only wish you could be this studly when you’re 50,” he said.

 

I was content to chill on the beach with a Modelo.
I was content to wriggle my toes in the  sand.

By the end of our second day we still hadn’t seen Mike Doyle. He splits his time between SoCal and Cabo, but the supposedly the legendary waterman was in town. I wondered if we’d ever see him in the flesh.

Speaking of flesh, Jimmy accidentally squirted a wedge of lime meant for his happy hour cerveza on his chafed inner thighs. Which didn’t make him so happy. “Sh*t!” he yelled. “That hurt!” Hmm, I wondered.  Was the old man starting to crack?

 The next day was picture perfect. The ocean fanned out before us like a peacock’s tail in stunning shades of cobalt, turquoise and aqua. We had a dream session riding the soft, fun waves. Counting his dawn patrol and our family sesh, Jimmy’s total wave count catapulted to 37!

He had 13 to go. We were leaving the next morning. Who knew what the surf would be like? It could be flat, it could be blown out. McRib could not risk defeat, so he three-peated yet again, dragging himself out for a sunset surf. By the end of the day Jimmy had reached 47.

He came in utterly exhausted, self-medicated with three Modelos and a bottle of cab, and passed out.

He only had three waves left but I wondered: Could he make his goal? Could he bring it?

On our  last morning,  Jimmy stepped gingerly into his Greg Knoll-style black-and-white-striped jailhouse board shorts, a fitting choice as he was in a prison of pain. He shuffled across the room, elbows and knees raw burger, deformed rib protrudint like an angry pink beet. Speckled with blood, his thighs looked as though they’d been sanded with extra coarse paper. He was shark bait.

The teens and I paddled out with him in solidarity. The swell had definitely died down. Jimmy scrapped for one wave. Then another. 49! “Dad! One more to go!” Tanner hooted. Thirty minutes passed. The clock was ticking. From out of nowhere a set came barreling in, and finally Jimmy scored his 50th wave.

As we paddled in, we passed a man with piercing blue eyes, broad muscular shoulders, his big hands cupping the water like oars. Mike Doyle.

From the jacuzzi we watched Mike catch the longest, most effortless wave of our trip. Glding gracefully across the bay, he cross stepped up and down his board from tip to tail, looking every bit surf royalty at 73 years old.

“Oh man! I’m gonna bring it like Mike when I’m 73,” Jimmy boasted.

Jimmy may have a broken rib but his ego will remain invincible until the end of time.

Go, 'Nade, go!
Go, Ed, go!