From Son: Counterculture Feminist Poet Mom Raises Football Player

Tuesday, April 19, 1976 Albion

In all the early morning rush to get everyone to school, building the fire, priming the pump for showers, making breakfast, you pull out your jock strap and want me to sew it. I start to make time for that too and then realize, “Danny, you sew it.”

“NO!” you yell.

“YES!” I yell.

Back and forth.

“Danny, what are you going to do when you get to college and I’m not there to sew your jock strap?”

“Oh,” you laugh. “In college I’ll have twenty jock straps. Jock straps are one thing I’ll have plenty of.”

Wednesday, April 20, Spy Hopping

“We were at Hare Creek. The waves were small. Just sitting there on our boards, facing the horizon. Sort of bored. Surfing in Mendocino is so weird. Waves either too big or too small.

“Then I heard Merle gasp ‘FU-CK!’

“I turned around quick, scared, thinking it must be a huge wave. But it was a whale, the biggest thing I’ve ever seen, fifty feet out of the water, on his tail, right between us, with barnacles all over, looking at us, just turning in the air slowly, just sliding down slowly, like he was screwing himself back down into the water.”

Thursday, April 21, The Mendocino Whale War

“Meuschke and I were checking out some waves at Big River. We noticed some weird waves. Fuck, what’s that? We jumped into the jeep and ran over to the south side. It was three whales. A huge one, a medium one, and a baby, acting weird, leaping out of the water, circling, charging each other, causing huge waves. The baby had a tail like you wouldn’t believe, swishing it back and forth.

“We went and found that whale freak, you know, Byrd Baker. He said, “Oh, so they’re doing that trip again!” Coming back we heard Byrd on the radio telling everyone to go to the south side of the river. Soon there were lots of people. Byrd was yelling, “Send your vibes to them! Let them know you love them!” All these girls screaming “Oh whale, I love you. Oh, whales, we love you.”

You, my teenage jock: “FAH-UCK!”

Monday, April 26

“You get out there and you try to catch a specific wave that you think you can catch. It’s very tricky—the hardest thing I ever learned to do. Once you start to catch a specific wave, it just happens.  Either you’ve caught it and are riding it, or you’ve missed it. At any point in the riding of it, the slightest miss-move can lose it for you. Sometimes you can get it back and sometimes you can’t. But it leaves no room in your mind for anything else when you’re doing it.

“Being in the curl of the wave becomes sort of a philosophy of life.  It’s very exciting. But you don’t know how long you can stand it.  It’s cool to get through the wave and paddle slowly out and sit there for a while and look around. The thing about surfing is you don’t have time to think. Even though you’re just sitting there, your mind doesn’t come to words. It’s the hemispheres of the brain, or something. Once you step into the water, the non-verbal  hemisphere takes over and it’s all visual/image/motion relationships rather than linear word-for-word cause-and-effect. Surfing is not something that can be taught or that can be learned step-by-step from someone. There’s no time when you’re out there. You just do it. Afterwards you can’t remember what you did.  It’s like having those God experiences. When your mind expands and you see God, or become God or something, and you come back to the human form, but the human brain can’t contain all of God, so you can’t remember it all.”

February, 1990, Zipolete, Mexico  

(Thanks in part to ____ Kelly)

September 6, 1978, Salt Lake City, Utah.  The Utes

The new coach, Chuck Stobart, a Methodist from Ohio, is of the “old school.” There are disturbing rumors that he is converting to Mormonism. “The missionaries are visiting us regularly,” his wife will put it during the Wyoming game. At any rate, the team is required to pray together before and after each game. Midway through the season I ask you what you pray, and how. I never taught you.

“Well,” you tell me, “I remember what I learned in my philosophy class in high school. We hold hands in a large circle, the lights are turned out, we bow our heads and have silent prayer. I concentrate very hard, you know, like meditation. I imagine energy hitting me from Mendocino. I see energy coming at me from Grandma and Grandpa in Florence Oregon like a huge ball of lightning. I see it coming at me from my Dad’s in Manhattan Beach. I feel it coming from my sister, Shawn, wherever she is now around the world, I see it coming from Port Townsend where you are even though I’ve never been there. I get bombarded with light shooting at me from all the places that love me and it fills me with powerful energy. Then, last of all, I see the light coming at me from the place the team we’re about to play is from—Las Vegas, San Diego, Texas.

“Then I’m ready. I’m stoked. Nothing can stop me. I’m ready to go out there. And play.”

September 20, 1982

“The defensive linemen of Texas were sucking for air,” Utah offensive lineman, Dan Doubiago, said.
-The Salt Lake City Tribune

Texas Sucking for Air

“When you drive 80 yards you’re really
beat. It takes it out of you.
We were on their 20 yard line, humidity and heat
like a sauna, when we looked into their faces.
That’s when I saw
they were sucking for air.
We were exhausted too, but it was Gerke
who started it, squealing and screeching
and pointing. We looked around
and knew what we were going to do
and we were all screaming, jumping up
and down, pointing at them, howling.
They freaked, their coaches
on the sidelines freaked, trying to
figure out what was up. Very next play
we got the touchdown.”

November 22, 1982, Brigham Young University vs University of Utah

“I couldn’t hear anything. The roar of the crowd was so great I couldn’t hear the audibles. The guy opposite me is considered the meanest guy in the WAC. He looked me in the eyes, snarled so I had no trouble hearing him. “Pussy!”

I looked him in the eyes. I knew I was about to wipe him out.


Interconnecting Circles

Sharon Doubiago
Sharon Doubiago is a San Francisco poet and memoirist of many books.
Poetry: Hard Country (epic poem, West End Press), South America Mi Hija (book-length poem, U of Pittsburgh Press), Psyche Drives the Coast (Oregon Book Award for Poetry. Empty Bowl Press), Body and Soul (Cedar Hill Press), Love On the Streets (U of Pitts), The Visit (50 page poem, Wild Ocean Press), and most recently Naked To The Earth (poetry, Wild Ocean Press)
Memoir/Memoir stories: The Book of Seeing With One’s Own Eyes (Greywolf), El Nino (Lost Roads), My Father’s Love, vol 1 +2 (Wild Ocean) and My Beard, Spuyten Duvyil

#Sharon Doubiago


  1. Dan - November 10, 2020 @ 12:49 pm

    Wonderful piece. Surfing – been trying to get that sensation you spoke of. . .

  2. Karen Hunt - November 4, 2020 @ 8:51 am

    Fabulous on so many levels. Thanks for taking me to the beach and the football stadium.

  3. Mardith Louisell - October 30, 2020 @ 12:06 pm

    Sharon, I read the piece from your memoir in the last issue and now this piece and loved them both. The whole idea of the Counterculture Feminist Poet Mom raising a (professional) football son is intriguing and compelling. I look forward to more. I was a counterculture feminist co-op running, etc., back in those days, still am some of those. Your son’s words are great and his description of the way the waves work and how surfers do it thrilling. Never surfed, always wished I had. My chorus director, Bob Geary, is a surfer and sometimes talks about it in relation to music. Thank you and your son for delving into the experience. I”m also in SF, in the Sunset. Looking forward to more from the memoir.

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