Coming in from a beachbreak called Lizandro, Griffin watches the empty peaks at dusk and, out of nowhere, says, “When I was younger, I flew for the first time on my own to Hawaii. I was so nervous about it that I didn’t eat all day, and while I was on the plane, I got lightheaded, was walking down the aisle and fainted. I hit my chin on a tray table and it was a scene.” He shrugs and then turns grave, as if remembering something very important, “We’re gonna get ice cream after this, right?”
This is a typically Griffin-esque story. The random anecdote just an added fun fact from his life, setting up for the point, which is commonly ice cream. Or surfing. And in between the two to fill the gaps: gambling. Namely blackjack. And Griffin is the kind of card shark that Mark Healey couldn’t take. In fact, to quench his ice cream addiction, (or gelato, as it’s known here), Griff uses his blackjack addiction to pay for the scoops. Basically, anyone around him that feels like playing cards, also pays for his ice cream.
Griffin is also young and carefree and floats through life like an untethered balloon. Even in the Old World, through serious stone, ancient history, dead wars and vacant forts, Griffin drifts along with a smile full of braces glued to his face.
He floats on absurd, spontaneous laughter. He dances often, sings a fair bit, too. Transforms simple observations into a song. We are in Ericeira, Portugal, so he begins to rap, “Eri-eri, eri-eri-ceir-raahhh” like a scratched record on an imaginary turntable, one hand to his ear like a DJ. Ericeira, by the way, is the town we’re in, a quaint fishing village loaded with various coves, slabs, points and other beachies, not far from Lisbon. And Griffin’s right: The word is in fact very fun to say.
Still in the water on his fourth session of the day, Griffin makes each session look more inviting than the next. Griffin has that special power to make windblown peaks look appealing. He’s got that psych on life that’s magnetic, and at 15, is still many miles away from jaded.
In Portugal, a grom such as Griffin takes in the sights with open arms. Newness is always interesting. All the villages with carroty, clay roofs and tiled alleys. The storybook streets with mosaics of pirate ships and medieval crests. The shops and cafes with soccer games blaring through the open doors. The palaces and forts peaking through the forests. But a grommet also searches for the best gelato shop. And the rampiest peak.
Finally surrendering to the night’s darkness, Griffin loads his board into the van. Beside us, Matt Meola and Albee Layer are doing the same, as they’d coincidentally surfed this last session with us too. Matt is recounting a tale about getting head lice from Craig Anderson on a boat trip some years back, and Griffin overhears the story.
“Aw, you guys talking about head lice? I’ve gotten that at least three times,” says Griffin, with a look like, who hasn’t gotten lice? He goes on for a few minutes about the details of each infestation and, of course, by the end of it asks quite seriously, “We’re stopping for gelato before the hotel, right?”