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When I was a boy I had a friend named Dennis McCann
Who was totally and utterly and maniacally in love with
Surfing. He talked about nothing else and he said he did
Nothing else on the weekends and he had ten surfboards
Of various sizes in his garage, most of them scuffed and
Worn and sandy and all mottled with what was alluringly
Called sex wax. Our village was not too far from the sea,
And while the waves were never epic, there always were
Surfers out there, summer and winter”the winter surfers
In their wetsuits like the dark sheen of lean seals. Dennis,
A decent guy in a lot of ways who would lend you books
And let you copy his history notes, was curiously solitary
About surfing, though; every time we asked to go surfing
With him he would make some excuse”like his brothers
Had no room in the car or they thought we were all geeks,
Or the weather was too rough for rookies or the McCanns
Were all going right to Mass after surfing or visiting their
Grandparents deep in the Bronx. It was always something,
And we didn’t think about it much, being satisfied enough
To have a friend who surfed, how cool was that? And how
Cool by extension we were, of course”the important part.
So the Saturday we saw Dennis working at the Post Office
Slaving away loading trucks when he told us he was at sea,
And the way we didn’t say anything Monday when he told
Us about the terrific waves he surfed all Saturday morning,
And the thought of him carefully mottling and bruising his
Surfboards so they would look beat when we came to gape,
And the way he might have used some of the cash he made
At the P.O. to buy boards that never did escape his garage;
What words fit these things? Years ago when I was smarter
I would laugh at the sham and dodge of it, and wonder why
A kid would go to such lengths to lie, or maybe just admire
The incredible work behind the flimflam theater. But today
I think just of the boy, trying so desperately to create a boy
He wanted to be. So did we all back then; so do we all now.