If you are a surfer, you will get burned. It's as inevitable as death, taxes, and Filipe Toledo getting another tattoo. But how we should react to these breaches of etiquette isn't always straightforward. So before you get all Mortal Kombat on someone in the lineup, answer the seven questions below to properly assess the severity of their lineup faux pas, and how you should hold your violator accountable.
1. Has this person ever burned you before?
a) Only every goddamn session.
b) No, but they are a filthy backpaddler.
c) Who cares? It's everyone's ocean!
2. How's your local cred at this wave?
a) Grandpa used a splintered chunk of redwood to pioneer this spot back in 1912, and my family has been surfing it daily ever since.
b) It's been my go-to spot for a while, but I'm not exactly at the top of the pecking order.
c) Wannasurf.com told me where to paddle out.
3. How well do you surf?
a) I've been in more than one Kai Neville movie.
b) If you take your contacts out, it will probably look like I'm ripping.
c) You wax the bottom of the board to make it go faster, right?
4. How well does your snake surf?
a) They must have gotten caught in a rip and separated from their surf school.
b) I saw them do a pretty decent roundhouse once.
c) They make John Florence look like Johnny Utah.
5. How would you describe their physique?
a) An onshore breeze could sweep them right back to the parking lot.
b) Not a shrimp, but probably a vegetarian.
c) Imagine Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson if he'd recently eaten Vin Diesel.
6. Do they seem like a mentally stable human being?
a) They definitely spend Saturdays at Bed Bath & Beyond.
b) Their wave count seems too high for anyone but a sociopath.
c) What makes someone foam at the mouth like that? Is that rabies?
7. Are you a tourist in Hawaii?
a) I grew here, you flew here.
b) I get mistaken for Hawaiian sometimes, and I don't bother correcting them.
c) Haole to you, too!
If you answered mostly a's, you might think you've got carte blanche here according to surfing's unwritten tribal laws. Then again, there are other laws to consider—you know, like the ones against assault? But feel free to be firm and tell the etiquette breacher that he or she is out of line. For best results, try to channel the severe eye contact and tone of Dirty Harry-era Clint Eastwood.
If you answered mostly b's, this could go either way. Maybe they didn't see you, or maybe it looked like you weren't going to make the section. Let them know that they cut you off, but give them the benefit of the doubt and try not to burst any blood vessels until you hear their side of the story.
If you answered mostly c's, you might not even be aware that you were snaked at all. If you did notice, and are feeling perturbed, keep this in mind: you're probably pretty new to this whole surfing thing and might be misunderstanding the situation—there's also a chance the guy who burned you will literally eat your children if provoked. Either way, you might as well call this one a wash and wait until you're better at surfing, or kung fu, or both, before you start making any accusations in the lineup.
[Editor's note: "Corndogging" is a satirical column in which we take serious surf issues, dunk 'em in the ocean, and roll them around in the sand for awhile.]
[Featured image: sharing is caring, unless you’re talking about waves. Photo: Ellis]