Totally gnarly, dude

La versión en español está después de la versión en inglés.

FOR SEVEN MONTHS IN 1982-83, San Geraldo and I lived in Marina del Rey, a seaside community in Los Angeles County. The marina is the one pictured in the opening song from the TV series, Gilligan’s Island. Unlike the claim in the song, it wasn’t actually a tiny tropic port.

It was warm and humid today. The fog hung low over the surrounding mountains, but the sky above me was crisp and clear (at times). I went for a walk in a bit of the countryside and some gnarled olive trees brought back memories of the language of those times. I was reminded of Tina, a young woman I worked with at a small graphic arts studio (owned by her father) in nearby Santa Monica.

Tina was born and raised in Malibu, and her conversation was filled with surfer lingo. Things she didn’t like were “grody” or, if really awful, “grody to the max.” Her surfer-dude husband, who didn’t own shoes, regularly annoyed her. When he did, she referred to him as “Penis Breath.” If she didn’t want to do something, instead of simply saying “No,” she would respond, “In another life.” One of our difficult clients was a total “barf bag.”

Gnarly was originally surfer lingo for something challenging or rough — like wiping out on a totally gnarly wave. However, it evolved into something good. Like Tina’s totally gnarly Barbie Doll bikini. (Did I mention Tina only wore pink, and preferably polka dots?)

Tina’s other favourite expression when she heard something “totally gross” was “Ew! Gag me with a spoon!” It was an interesting seven months — and, today, a distracted walk.


DURANTE SIETE MESES EN 1982-83, San Geraldo y yo vivimos en Marina del Rey, una comunidad costera en el condado de Los Ángeles. El puerto deportivo es el que se muestra en la canción de apertura de la serie de televisión, Gilligan’s Island. A diferencia de lo que dice la canción, en realidad no era un pequeño puerto tropical.

Hoy fue cálido y húmedo. La niebla colgaba baja sobre las montañas circundantes, pero el cielo sobre mí era nítido y claro (a veces). Salí a caminar por un pedacito de campo y unos olivos retorcidos me trajeron recuerdos de la lengua de esa época. Me acordé de Tina, una mujer joven con la que trabajé en un pequeño estudio de artes gráficas (propiedad de su padre) en la cercana Santa Mónica.

Tina nació y creció en Malibú, y su conversación estuvo llena de jerga de surfistas. Las cosas que no le gustaban eran “grody” o, si eran realmente horribles, “grody to the max” [grody al máximo]. Su marido, un surfista, que no tenía zapatos, la molestaba con frecuencia. Cuando lo hizo, ella se refirió a él como “Penis Breath” . Si no quería hacer algo, en lugar de simplemente decir “No”, respondía: “En otra vida”. Uno de nuestros clientes difíciles era un total “barf bag” [vomitivo].

Gnarly [retorcida] fue originalmente la jerga de los surfistas para algo desafiante o rudo, como aniquilarse en una ola totalmente gnarly. Sin embargo, se convirtió en algo bueno. Como el nuevo bikini de Tina que era totalmente gnarly. (¿Mencioné que Tina solo vestía rosa, y preferiblemente lunares?)

La otra expresión favorita de Tina cuando escuchó algo “totalmente asqueroso” fue “¡Ew! ¡Gag me with a spoon!” [Amárrame con una cuchara!] Fueron siete meses interesantes — y, hoy, una caminata distraída.


Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

42 thoughts on “Totally gnarly, dude”

  1. These pictures are like totally awesome! I’m back from the retirement manse for a few days. I so need to borrow Maddie’s houseboys! I can watch, I mean supervise, as they clean. I can use one to fan me as I devour grapes and order everybody else around. I have such dreams 🙂 Hugs to you and SG.

      1. Yep, Mads. We bought a new house in Elk Grove. We’ll be living five minutes away from the kids. It will take about eighteen months for me to move totally in. Takin’ it slow, sunshine. We tried for several houses in that area and were always out bid. I fell instantly in love with this house and the homeowner’s wife didn’t want to take any more bidders because (she said) she liked me. Cow eyes and a mask can do that to a person, I guess 🙂

      2. Deedles:
        Oh, sweetheart, we all agree you’re irresistable. I probably would have GIVEN you a house.

      3. Mistress Borghese:
        I knew there had to be a reason why the houseboys weren’t already there.

    1. Deedles:
      Well, I can’t speak for Maddie, but if I had houseboys, I would have sent them to you immediately. Would have to peel the grapes for you or simply hold the bowl?

      1. I don’t eat nekkid grapes, Scoot. We would play the “toss the grape in my mouth” game. Another houseboy would have to hold the bowl. My hands are just not up to it 🙂

      2. Deedles:
        Sounds like the houseboys will have to do ALL the work. (As they should.)

  2. Those look to be very old olive trees. We had a Russian Olive growing here for a few years……never produced fruit and finally gave up.
    ‘Gag me with a spoon’! Haven’t heard that in a while.

    1. Jim:
      I had myself smiling thinking about conversation with Tina. She was quite a character… and she did quite a bit of cocaine, as well.

  3. Been a while since I was in Marina del Rey or Santa Monica. Sigh.

    Must say I prefer your gnarly trees as opposed to gnarly dudes. Much more interesting. Surfer lingo takes me back to the 60s, The Beach Boys, old (bad) beach movies. Yowza. I’m old.

    1. Mary:
      We left there in June ’83. Drove by once in the ’90s and then did a drive by (and lunch) in 2011 when we picked up our Spanish residency visas in L.A. We lived on the marina with nothing between us and the beach but a couple of oil dereks. They were started to build houses in some of that space just as we were leaving and now it is completely developed. Really different.

  4. So that theme song was before they changed the last of the lyrics to be “the Professor and Maryanne” instead of (the very lame) “and the rest”.

    I think I prefer “gag me with a spoon” to “gag me with a maggot”.

    But I like your gnarly trees the best.

    1. Wilma:
      I made a point of finding the original theme song. Ew! Never heard gag me with a maggot! I love gnarly trees. I’ve been trying to get good shots of the totally gnarly roots of old ficus trees in the area.

    2. Bob Denver (Gilligan) took credit for the change in the song. He claimed he told the producers he’d leave the show if they didn’t mention everyone in the song.

    1. Mistress Maddie:
      I’m running out of my surfer dude/valley girl expressions. I DO remember driving along the freeway with “Teenage Enema Nurse” blasting from the car radio. It wasn’t as good, though, as “Pass the Duchy on the Left Hand Side” (Musical Youth). LOVED that song so much that we bought the tape (yes, cassette tape… 1983). It was the only good song, so we would rewind and play it again.

    1. mcpersonalspace54:
      I’m findin myself very entertained. I remember sitting at my desk, which looked out the windows onto the parking lot, and seeing a car with a vanity plate that read ANCHVZ. The custom frame asked: “If women are made of sugar and spice and everything nice, how come they all taste like…”

  5. Tina would have been perfect for the movie “Clueless.” Also warm and humid in Northeast Florida, which probably means a cold front will move in soon and we’ll have a storm.


    1. Janie:
      It’s actually 70F here right now. Whew! Around 70 percent humidity. Not Florida.

    1. Walt the Fourth:
      I could never do a very good Valley Girl myself. Whoopi is hilarious. Maybe if I had hair to toss, I could do a better job.

  6. I reminded of Moon Unit Zappa, Frank’s daughter.

    Piggybacking on Wilma’s comment, I’ve read it was Bob Denver who insisted that the Professor and Mary Ann be added to the second season’s opening credits.

    1. Kirk:
      I remember that about the theme song, too, and that Tina Louise’s original contract required that nothing followed her character’s mention. Oh, Hollywood. Moon Zappa was SO good in that video.

  7. Those gnarly trees/photos are gorgeous. Too bad Tina’s adolescent vocabulary had to intrude to such an extent. Gilligan’s Island ws the stupidest, most ridiculous show on TV…and I loved it. Mrs Howell and Ginger always had a complete and extensive and fashionable wardrobe available and it was just played so matter-of-factly that it seemed almost reasonable. Those were such innocent times.

    P.S. Our internet was down for almost a week and then we lost our hot-spot from our cell service when we “up-graded” to get more gigs. Long story…

    1. Frank:
      Isn’t it amazing how much some of us still love Gilligans’s Island? It helped that they never made any bones about the fact that the entire premise was absurd. I tend to be very critical of TV shows, but that show gets a pass. No internet for a week? The Professor would have figured out how to help you on the first day.

Please share your thoughts...

%d bloggers like this: