Our regular Wednesday guest blogger, Miss Mia Legg, is back with another edition of ‘The Realm of the Kooks.’ This time she’s taking on the Shaka Sign and why it’s a universal language ice breaker.
Skateboarding was delivered and raised under California sunshine. Yet, its level of rabbit-paced breeding has currently taken over in another state.
Walk one day in New York City and you will see just as many skateboarders as hipsters flashing their chest hair to innocent strangers who did not choose to play V-neck peek-a-boo.
After living in NYC for three years, skaters sliding in and out of my peripheral vision have become a pleasant norm. This comforting blur failed to follow me while I was studying abroad this past semester in Florence.
Italy. Cobblestones. Cobblestoned Italy. (Stones of cobble and cobbles that are stoned.)
I quickly learned that the lack of smooth pavement affected the development of a flourishing skate community In Florence. In addition, the Vespa speed demons, who make NYC taxi drivers look like students in drivers ed, will literally bump you off the road. They want you to die.
Those two ingredients explain why, when you go to Italy with a skateboard, people will stare at you like you are Britney Spears during her “I’m a Slave 4 U” phase. Seeing a skateboard is equivalent to viewing Rowena Ravenclaw’s diadem or the Ark of the Covenant.
As a skater in Florence, any skateboarder you find is a miracle. One of the two skater friends I made in four months actually called me that when we first met. The other one happened to witness a similar phenomenon with me during one of our skate sessions.
It was nighttime. We were moving away from the Duomo and cruising down one of the widest and smoothest streets in the center of town. And it was there that we saw him. A miracle in the distance. A positive dream. A ‘10’ on the scale.
As we zipped closer to each other the stranger smiled brightly and waved his hand back and forth, thumb and pinky up. I returned the smile and the familiar hand gesture. My friend and I passed him and then the moment was over. He was gone.
(The Shaka Sign http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shaka_sign )
This was one of the unique experiences I had and it was very grand in its own right. It made me realize the power of nonverbal communication because through that one hand movement, we were able to acknowledge our recognition of each other and our appreciation for the stoke life. Which leads me back to surfing.
As a surfer, it is important to be able to nonverbally communicate with others in the water. Depending on the day and the purpose of your surf session, you may or may not want to talk to someone. Therefore, knowing surf etiquette, split second maneuvers to avoid collisions, and where your position should be to avoid the personal space of a stranger, are all essential skills. Communication is just as important as waxing your board or avoiding the purchase of transparent wetsuits.
Next week I will elaborate on both verbal and nonverbal communication, including surf lingo! Understanding when and when not to use them will help you to close the localism gap, maybe to a point of dissipation! Between now and next time, tally up how often you use the word ‘dude.’ I guess I’m at one.
p.s. Go to the beach!
Miadude, shaka sign, surf etiquette, surf lingo, surf session