Deciphering the nonsensical lexicon of surfers probably feels similar to the way out-of-touch dads drive their tween daughter and friends confusedly to soccer practice, listening to them cackle incoherently about crushes and Lip Smacker flavours. But despite sounding like they’re peppering their sentences with gibberish, both tweens girls and surfers seem to have a somewhat telepathic understanding of each other. Ah fuck, I think I spotted some gray in my hair. In any case, a few silly sayings have become relatively common from beach to beach.
“These pale-ass bennies are crowding our beach, dude!”
Easy targets among any resident surf crowd, Bennies are tanless nonlocals who only show up to the beach on weekends. Like most idioms, its origin is debatable; the two best explanations, however, are that, first, it originated from the 1950s belief that the sun was “beneficial” to your health and, second, the 1942 Benny Goodman hit “Jersey Bounce” popularized the idea of inner-city New Yorkers spending the weekend shamelessly flaunting their pale torsos on the shores of Jersey.
“Does anyone know if Carl is okay? He flipped out hard on that last wave and got totally bent!”
While the original essentially means “out of shape,” the surf interpretation refers to a painful mishap out on the surf. Thus when Bart Simpson told someone to “get bent,” he was wishing them an unlucky day on the beach.
“That bonfire last night was totally gnar gnar.”
“Gnar gnar” has evolved from the non-idiomatic, “gnarl,”—meaning a twisted bump on a tree, and is now a synonym for both “awesome” and “sickening.” It’s also really fun to say.
“Claire’s house was pretty fun last night! Henna?”
“Henna” is a term of inquiry that amounts to, “Would you agree?”
First voiced by Chief Rain Cloud on the Howdy Doody Show in the late 50s and then later resuscitated by Bart Simpson in the early 90s, “Kowabunga” is a universal call to arms among surfers, imploring surf pals everywhere to assemble and ride some waves.
“I can’t believe Betty is going out with that landshark!”
Akin to the skater who holds his board more than actually riding it, the landshark is a pretend surfer who tries to pick up women with nonexistent surf credentials.
“That brosef over there totally wiped out and not only got a sand facial, but a mouthful of Neptune cocktail!”
The term Neptune Cocktail refers to the act of accidentally ingesting seawater after crashing really hard and is also the first drink to be named after the Roman god of the sea.
“Let’s get off this beach and away from these poser-ass Philbins!”
Philbins are basically frat boys. The origins are unclear but seem clearly linked to the simple fact that Regis Philbin is an iconic douche bag.
“If you feel like you gotta sneeze, just snot shot it out, bro.”
This move involves two easy steps: first, press one side of your nose to block one nostril; second, blow out the other nostril, aiming the snot away from your clothes. It’s not only a great way to avoid buying tissue paper, but comes in handy when a huge wave shoots seawater way up your nose all the way into your brain.
“Carl was all stoked to surf this morning, but then his hangover kicked in on the ride over here and he Technicolor yawned all over the backseat.”
Surfers must do acid because there’s never been a more beautifully psychedelic way to refer to the disgusting act of barfing than a rainbow of trippy colors outpouring from a gaping mouth.
Over The Falls
“Dude got tossed on that last wave and ended up over the falls.”
A term reserved for the specific action of someone bailing during and the wave throwing them around in a circular motion, also sometimes referred to as “the wash cycle”.