Going to high school in the early to mid-1980s meant absorbing every possible cultural reference from Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
Going to high school at that time in Central Ohio meant it was a little tough to pull off the Jeff Spicoli character, at least with any authenticity. As you might imagine, there wasn’t a lot of good surfing nearby.
We didn’t let little details like a lack of oceans get in the way though — a number of friends cultivated the character anyway, and managed to become pretty good surfers on spring and summer breaks from school. Others — possibly including me — projected the character’s attitude in other directions, like skiing. Not the ideal place for Van’s or aloha shirts, but we tried to work with what we had.
There was one almost universal way we were able to express our love of the Central Ohio surfers’ lifestyle: rocking a Surf Ohio shirt. I wore my Olentangy Masters Surfing Classic* shirt until it was in tatters. I know it survived into my first stint in Athens, but sometime between then and my return, it vanished. Or disintegrated.
It was extra-special for me because of the OU connection. The shirts were designed by Ron Kaplan, while he was a graphic design student in Athens in the late 1970s. The legend goes that he thought up the concept in his dorm room while waiting out the Blizzard of 1978 — or perhaps while trying to surf down Jeff Hill after the snow stopped falling that same weekend.
So on Saturday, I couldn’t have been happier when Mrs. Crappy returned from a shopping excursion — while I was at home watching the Ohio State spring football game with my Dad — and presented me with a brand new, 30th anniversary edition of the shirt.
I had no idea the shirts were being made again, and I was thrilled to have one. Even more astounding — I hadn’t even thought about these shirts since probably the early 1990s, and that Mrs. Crappy remembered what would have been a brief discussion about them 15 years ago is further evidence that I married the coolest person ever.
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*A brief Columbus geography lesson: The Olentangy is a shallow, muddy river that pretty much parallels High Street, the city’s main north-south street, until it meets with the Scioto River near downtown. My guess would be that there hasn’t been much surfing done on that river ever.