"I Can’t Quit You" - Surfer's Alarming Backbeach Confession

Ding Alley
Ding Alley

A bittersweet love story of Brokeback Mountain proportions has been playing out in Toonalook for years, Ding Alley can report.

The couple in question, undistinguished local surfer Arty Cook, 51, and his yellowing, waterlogged 6’2” epoxy quad appear unwilling to dismantle their five-and-a-half-year co-dependent relationship, despite recognising the fact that things have long since run their healthy and natural course.

“It was pretty much love at first sight when we first met,” Cook confides to Ding Alley. “The moment I held it under my arm, it just felt right. 

“Light as buggery, sneaky volume hidden through the guts and up into the fuller front third, 38 litres of forgiving epoxy buoyancy, quad set up to compensate for the lost speed of my awkward take offs and feet being eternally half an inch out of position, and with sexy carbon lines down the centre that – though I’ve never known if they serve any purpose – looked very much like something Slater would ride. 

“Oh, and it was white, white as snow.”

Acquaintances confirm that initially, this was indeed a happy pairing. “The best I saw Arty surf would have been when he first got that board I reckon, about five years ago,” recalls local sparky Josh Cassidy. 

“I mean, Arty’s no great shakes, but he was gettin’ on a roll, catchin’ waves, doin’ alright cutties ‘n’ floaters ‘n’ that. Yeah, he was goin’ good on that thing.”

Arty remembers the time fondly. “We had fun together. I’d never had an epoxy before and it just made everything that little bit easier. Bit of extra width in the tail and up front just gave me what I needed. Especially when it was small, which is kinda my deal.”

After a year or so seeing each other exclusively, however, Cook says he began to sense that all was not as idyllic as it seemed. 

“It’s hard to put into words, but I started to feel a little held back. Like the moment it got over four foot, that wide tail’d mean I was having to nurse the board a bit, and no matter what size wave I’d ride, I’d always feel like I wasn’t really getting any rail into the water anyway.

“I may be a gumby but I know what a good turn feels like, and the buoyancy and the thickness of the rails felt like I was always sitting on top of the water, never actually sinking anything into it.

“And being a Quad, it always felt just a tiny bit like cheating, if I’m honest, all that flat-rocker straight-line speed, no old-fashioned torque.

“But the paddling and actually catching waves on the thing always made up for it, so even as it started to go yellow, then brown, and I cracked the rails and mashed the fins on God knows how many botched rockjumps, it was still my one-and-only – I wouldn’t ride anything else.”

“I’ve never been good at jumping from board to board.”

As Swellnet’s wise readership knows all too well, time has a habit of slipping by breathtakingly swiftly, while appearing not to pass by at all, and so Cook found himself ambushed by a slow-motion inertia of his own making, unable to do anything but maintain the status quo.

“I scraped the wax off once or twice, got the dings fixed down at the Toonastix factory, even bought a new set of fins, and we still had our fun together, but it was getting waterlogged, and the crew started calling me on it. One mate named it ‘The piss-stained mattress’, and even the missus said she’d be OK with it if I went and bought a new board. 

“It was the first time she’d EVER said that.

“So for a year I was telling myself, ‘carn Arty, get a real board, son. You’re only 40-something. Get a thruster, PU, not quite as boxy, sink some goddamn rail while you still can’.” 

Eventually, in late January this year, after an extended wait thanks to Covid-demand for all things surf, Cook found himself marching out of the ToonaStix factory with a gleaming, sleek (but still sensibly proportioned) custom shooter under his arm, bursting with pride at the fact the shaper had given him 50 dollars off the full retail, and wondering if that qualified him as some kind of brand ambassador.

The good times continued as Arty pulled his new board out the back of his Hyundai, to murmurs of approval from the Toona Point carpark, and laughed along to jokes about how the piss-stained mattress would be out on the verge come the next Council clean-up.

Indeed, possession of a refined piece of hardware under his arm gave our friend the sense that his surfing might undergo a small but welcome renaissance.  

Sadly, onlookers report this promise would not become a reality.

“Yeah nah, Arty kinda went back to flailing a bit on his new shooter” reports Cassidy, “Like, he’d miss half the waves he paddled for, and the ones he DID catch he was like in slow-motion, caught in the whitewater half the time.”

Despite diligently riding his PU thruster for three weeks, moments of satisfaction were fleeting and elusive, and this morning saw Arty pull his neglected quad down from the rafters, and place it in the back of the car alongside his new purchase.

And shortly thereafter, in an empty Toona Backbeach carpark, our hapless hero stood at his opened tailgate, regarding both boards: the gleaming sleek shooter throwing the battered old board into shameful antiquated contrast, before grabbing ol’ Quaddy, while muttering the immortal ‘Can’t Quit You’ line from that at-times-hard-to-watch-movie about cowboys getting it on. Arty knew things wouldn’t end well, but for now, the hell with it.

A brisk rub of wax, and the furtive affair was reignited.

// DING ALLEY
Ding Alley is Illustrator Davis @maccatoons McArthur, and Writer Gra Murdoch.

Comments

Spuddups's picture
Spuddups's picture
Spuddups Friday, 26 Feb 2021 at 10:35am

Brought a tear to my eye.

DaWaveslave's picture
DaWaveslave's picture
DaWaveslave Friday, 26 Feb 2021 at 10:36am

Bloody good story and very well written Gra- Had me pissing myself. Thanks for the larfs!

andy-mac's picture
andy-mac's picture
andy-mac Friday, 26 Feb 2021 at 10:53am

Classic!!
When is the Toonalook movie coming out? Like characters out of a Winton novel. :)

theolderIgetthebetterIwas's picture
theolderIgetthebetterIwas's picture
theolderIgetthe... Friday, 26 Feb 2021 at 11:17am

ha - just like my mate Stan and his trusty hypto....
which he did actually shred on - fluid carves and shacks - unlike many who rode them

jez's picture
jez's picture
jez Friday, 26 Feb 2021 at 11:20am

"One mate named it ‘The piss-stained mattress’, and even the missus said she’d be OK with it if I went and bought a new board. " Had me in stitches...

Pops's picture
Pops's picture
Pops Friday, 26 Feb 2021 at 11:21am

Been there before... had a 6'4 I bought as a step-up but ended up riding in anything over shoulder high for years. Ended up snapping the thing, but took the bits back to the shaper and got him to make me a clone. The clone was never as good sadly.

"As Swellnet’s wise readership knows all too well, time has a habit of slipping by breathtakingly swiftly, while appearing not to pass by at all, and so Cook found himself ambushed by a slow-motion inertia of his own making, unable to do anything but maintain the status quo."
Yeah, that one hits home.

Plasticspastic's picture
Plasticspastic's picture
Plasticspastic Friday, 26 Feb 2021 at 12:02pm

Fuck that's me to a tee. I have this epic blood-red twinnie with glass-in fins from DMS (it's the 5th incantation) that is such a joy to ride.. wide nose, narrow tail, goes good in pretty much anything up to 6ft... got a smoking pit on it in the last swell at Kirra. and when I get off it and go back to a normal shorty, I have that first surf of being spastic.... and it's 50/50 that I go back to it....

Mr Ding Alley, once again fantastic story, bang on the money. your ability to gauge the surfing community leaves the Wozzle for dead...

Henry's picture
Henry's picture
Henry Friday, 26 Feb 2021 at 1:02pm

Having ridden basically the same boards since I was 18 and recently being told in the line-up by the most stylish surfer in town that I need to get more volume under me, I can appreciate the position poor Arty find himself – it aint gunna be easy… I also characterise myself as “undistinguished” - this has hit very close to the bone...

wiseautogas's picture
wiseautogas's picture
wiseautogas Friday, 26 Feb 2021 at 1:30pm

hey when you get old, fat and slow, your take offs turn to a slow motion bruce lee kick, volume is your friend, you must be appealing to the like, a 20 year old wouldn't have a clue what your talking about.

sangsta's picture
sangsta's picture
sangsta Friday, 26 Feb 2021 at 1:32pm

You captured the essence of man + board true love beautifully. Thanks Gra.

rooftop's picture
rooftop's picture
rooftop Friday, 26 Feb 2021 at 1:33pm

"all that flat-rocker straight-line speed, no old-fashioned torque."

Yep. I currently have a yellow eight year old board in the rack with the nose half peeled off that fits that description perfectly. There's silicone in the dings. The fin boxes don't fit right. Next to the other boards it looks like a grandma at a nightclub.

But on my recent birthday did I go for a new board? Like hell. Off to the repairers next week!

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain Friday, 26 Feb 2021 at 4:03pm

There was some open space between what he knew and what he tried to believe, but nothing could be done about it, and if you can't fix it you've got to stand it.

tubeshooter's picture
tubeshooter's picture
tubeshooter Friday, 26 Feb 2021 at 4:46pm

Bugger the colour , and faark any short lived admiration you may silently receive from that shiny new stick in the carpark .
A solid back foot depression, crushed rails and a deck that resembles the surface of the moon are badges of honour. Never be afraid to display them. And it's not over till it's in pieces or completely delaminated.

D-Rex's picture
D-Rex's picture
D-Rex Friday, 26 Feb 2021 at 4:53pm

Not sure that the back-handed compliments to epoxy are warranted. My go to is a CI epoxy which puts my PU boards in the shade. Many surfers (young and old) that I see are riding epoxy without any apparent issues.

Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay Friday, 26 Feb 2021 at 5:15pm

Is that inspired by Blowin and his SuperFish?

hamishbro's picture
hamishbro's picture
hamishbro Friday, 26 Feb 2021 at 5:33pm

I broke my beloved in two recently.

Solitude's picture
Solitude's picture
Solitude Friday, 26 Feb 2021 at 11:09pm

The feet 1/2 inch out of position! Always!

drodders's picture
drodders's picture
drodders Saturday, 27 Feb 2021 at 7:53am

Keep changing them up, don’t get attached, gumtree is your friend.

batfink's picture
batfink's picture
batfink Monday, 1 Mar 2021 at 9:10am

That’s me, drodders. Can barely walk into a surf shop without coming out with a new board. My only rule is that I can only have 3 boards, so new one in, one has to go to the gumtree god.

Thingo's picture
Thingo's picture
Thingo Sunday, 28 Feb 2021 at 1:20am

So very..... very close to the bone... still enjoyed it though.

Lukas_Z's picture
Lukas_Z's picture
Lukas_Z Sunday, 28 Feb 2021 at 8:01am

Wave count is what counts, at least you can dominate the line-up even of you fall after take-off.

Lukas_Z's picture
Lukas_Z's picture
Lukas_Z Sunday, 28 Feb 2021 at 8:03am

...time has a habit of slipping by breathtakingly swiftly...
so get a board with litreage reflecting your age, 55 big ones

mikidora's picture
mikidora's picture
mikidora Sunday, 28 Feb 2021 at 4:56pm

yes it feels like cheating on your partner, it takes a lot of courage to break up a relationship like that....

Panman's picture
Panman's picture
Panman Sunday, 28 Feb 2021 at 5:20pm

Zeitgeist

Bnkref's picture
Bnkref's picture
Bnkref Sunday, 28 Feb 2021 at 6:29pm

Piss-stained mattress. That's rolled gold.

I'm a bit guilty of "needing" a new / 2nd hand board when it will make no difference to a kook like me.

Hits home when you see the Balinese tearing up the beachies and reefs often on boards that would be left out for hard rubbish in Oz.

Halfscousehalfcockneyfullaussie's picture
Halfscousehalfcockneyfullaussie's picture
Halfscousehalfc... Monday, 1 Mar 2021 at 2:49pm

What brand is this 6’2 epoxy magic machine..... I want one

ken.vincent's picture
ken.vincent's picture
ken.vincent Monday, 1 Mar 2021 at 6:54pm

Agree with Jez & Bnkref ..... Piss stained mattress is the bomb!!!

Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch's picture
Gra Murdoch Monday, 1 Mar 2021 at 7:07pm

Must admit that particular line is stolen from my mate Adam, who had a Will Webber shooter about five years ago that he rode into oblivion.

ken.vincent's picture
ken.vincent's picture
ken.vincent Monday, 1 Mar 2021 at 7:14pm

Will go directly to the surf language lexicon.

Spuddups's picture
Spuddups's picture
Spuddups Monday, 1 Mar 2021 at 7:09pm

A friend of mine was riding a board shaped in 1974 the other day. Still in pretty good nick. They certainly glassed them pretty solid back in those days. The thing's about four inches thick as well which must help.

dinnerdish's picture
dinnerdish's picture
dinnerdish Wednesday, 3 Mar 2021 at 9:02am

hilarious that is so my story.....great imagery all round