Out of Office Reply: Sofa Surfing

Out of Office Reply is Associate Editor Taylor Paul’s column on surf travel, big waves, and other manly bits


Out of Office Reply

Oliver Kurtz is a peacock. Flamboyant in many ways, from his head to his toes. His hawk is not quite mo and not quite fro. He rocks a blond but respectable mustache, not for prostate cancer, but because, "Burt Reynolds is my hero." His jeans are tight. His shirts are weird. When I asked him if he had a belt I could borrow before we went to town one night he said, "I think I have a shoe lace."

But as quirky as Oliver is, he's a fine houseguest. Hurley obviously didn't know this about their Floridian sponsoree, since Oliver was denied even floor space at the H's Pipeline house. SURFING was willing to risk it though. So with Oliver on the street like Dickens' character of the same name, we welcomed him into our humble log cabin, and were pleased with the decision. The floors were sandless and the dishes dried without streaks — the perfect house grom. We asked Oliver to impart the wisdom of being a good houseguest to SURFING's readers. So take some notes, youth of today, 'cause Colonel Kurtz is about to teach you how to raise your couch cred so you'll always be invited back.

Oliver Kurtz:

“When Taj Burrow’s Book of Hot Surfing came out I probably read it cover to cover like 30 times. A key element he shared was the importance of being a good houseguest: Clean up everything, even other people’s dishes and such. Make dinner. Be funny and lighthearted and you'll always be welcome. I keep this in mind every place I couch surf.”

“Cooking is crucial to being a good houseguest. Buy the groceries and prepare something tasty and you literally bring something to the table. Residents love a fresh cooked meal. I recommend Italian; simple and tasty with limited cleanup.

“Cleaning up is a must. What I like to do is make sure there are never dishes in the sink or sandy floors (especially here in Hawaii). Once you have a place clean it's easy to keep clean. Unless you are partying, then that shit gets hard to manage.”

“Super disorganized and messy people piss me off. I keep all my stuff in a small, clean area wherever I am. If the house is small and you have your stuff lying around everywhere the host will generally be angry.”

“Like anywhere in the world, if you're a douche, prick, or just rude, you won't be liked. Always be kind, courteous, and most importantly thankful because the host is doing you a big favor.

It's a simple equation: if people like you and you're a good houseguest, then you will be wanted back. The perks include free drinks [Primo never let the log cabin go dry], meeting awesome people along the way and even being set up for future couches to crash on.”

“My time at the SURFING house was so sick. Everyone had a job to do though, so I would keep to myself when the guys were working and not try to spark a conversation. But luckily everyone would finish fast and we'd just surf or drink beer, which was awesome. Being around people like Jimmy [Wilson] and Sherm [Steve Sherman] is always fun. Sherm is the music guru and I loved hearing about his daily stories, A-listers and awesome photos. And Jimmy is the funniest and most awesome person ever.”

“Luckily I had a passing grade with the guys at SURFING, and word traveled to the boys at Transworld Surf, and now I have a cozy spot at their house thanks to the Coté bros.”

—Taylor Paul