Pee in a Wetsuit :: A Surfer's Short Essay

There are two types of surfers: those who pee in their wetsuits and those who lie about peeing in their wetsuits.

It’s cold, it’s winter, and the warmth it brings feels like hot cocoa, a warm fire, and hugging an Eskimo all at once. The sensation fills up around the waist and the thighs, passing the calves and then on into the booties. You’re warm for a few moments and it’s bliss. It’s relief. It’s better than your best ride that day. It’s the appetizer to your post-surf feeding frenzy.

Everyone does it. We’ve heard stories of the desperate ones.

There’s this one story. I won’t name any names (we’ll call him Nick).

Nick lives in Milwaukee and surfs in Sheboygan when the conditions are right in the winter. He peed in his wetsuit —no biggie, business as usual. While Nick is a smart man, he made a critical mistake. He put on his wetsuit before checking the waves, before he left his house, and before he thought about bringing a change of clothes. Upon arrival in Sheboygan, all suited up and ready to charge, he peed. There was a slight problem though: the conditions were particularly icy in Sheboygan that day. The ice shelf was too high to enter the water and there was no safe exit. He peed before he got in the water, before he knew there were no waves to ride.

Nick drove back to Milwaukee (a one hour drive) in a steamy, piss-filled wetsuit.

I hold Nick in high regard. He told the whole story. He didn't leave out the unfortunate details of getting skunked. He is a surfer that peed in his wetsuit.

When a friend gets injured and needs help, you peel the steaming ammonia-scented rubber off of their body.

And, another story. Burton Hathaway blew out his knee on the north shore of Lake Superior surfing Lester River. He was in pain. You jump in. You get your friend out of piss-soaked neoprene. It sucks, but we have to be there for each other. It’s not always an epic rescue. Sometimes it’s clawing at someone else’s pee-soaked suit instead of your own. When it’s too cold to flush your suit at the end of a session and too far to drive home to peel It off in the shower, it sits in a Rubbermaid bin in your backseat or in your friend’s van. The stench permeates the carpet, drips way past the rubber floor mats. It’s not going anywhere. That “wetsuit smell” in a surfer’s car…isn’t the wetsuit.

It’s not the best part of surfing. Like most things, it has its positives and negatives: sweet relief and warm coziness, awful smells and questionable hygiene.

Just be honest, let it go, and tell the truth. We all know that surfers pee in their wetsuits.