How Stanley Ficklefog Turned Into a Surf Troll

This is the story of Stanley Ficklefog. A once outgoing, somewhat sociable soul, Stanley (Stan to his friends and family) lived in a small city, just a few hours from the ocean. He'd always been interested in surfboarding waterhills. He’d seen it on the ol' television, and even tried it once or twice when the weather was nice. But it was not an important part of his life. Not then. Stan spent his time at house parties, in movie theaters, and at all sorts of sporting events. He also liked the ladies, and spent a great deal of his time in their company. Preoccupied, Stan was. And at that time surfboarding was just an activity for Mr. Ficklefog, not a passionate pursuit.

Then one day something happened. Something Stan never imagined. Visiting with friends in a faraway land, Stan had what some would call an epiphany. No longer did Stan feel burdened by his belongings or his relationships with both friends and family. Stan felt free for the first time. Now, I'm sure you're wondering how the hell this happened. What caused Stan to feel so free all of a sudden? Well, let me tell you a little bit more about our friend Mr.Ficklefog.

You see, Stan grew up surrounded by friends who only thought about the things that they owned, whether it was their sweet new shoes or the latest video gaming system. He was one of them. He collected sporting cards and coveted material objects like everyone else. Born into a consumer culture, Stan was. He played sports, but found himself more interested in his equipment than with playing the game the best that he could. He spent too much time in front of the television and wasted his weekends drinking from brown bottles and smoking The Pot. And so went the first 20 years of Stan's life. But then that day dawned, the one where he had his epiphany, or whatever you care to call it.

Suddenly Stan didn't give a shit. He sorted through his things, sold some stuff, and headed west toward the water; surfboard strapped securely to the roof, a small bag of belongings sitting on the back seat. He drove fast along the northern coast down from Canada, stopping only to eat and sleep. He wound through the woods, the engine of his escape pod purring along ever so smoothly. He was quite content.

As a tall, handsome man in his early twenties, Stan caught the eye of a rather attractive young lady in the cozy little cafe he ate lunch at one afternoon. She saw his surfing board, asked a couple of questions, and the next thing Stan knew she was sitting shotgun, headed west with him!

Having arrived at the ocean, Stan and his newfound lady friend went about creating a comfortable campsite for themselves. Odd it was, as Stan had grown up inside the city, with televisions and big beds and closets full of clothing. This was the first time Stan would sleep on the ground, or eat food cooked over a campfire. The first time he would see the stars, or the sun set behind a tree-covered outcropping of rock and sand. And all of it changed Stan, especially once he starting surfboarding more waterhills. Now, I told you Stan was tall and handsome. I think he was some kind of Scandinavian. But the more time Stan spent surfboarding in the sea, the shorter he became.

Months passed and Stan's campsite had transformed itself into a home of sorts. Tarps and tent poles kept things covered, while a small wall built from tree branches kept curious animals at bay. Inside, Stan had only what was most essential: a small stove, wooden stool, cast iron skillet, and ceramic coffee cup set on the ground. A warm wetsuit hung in the corner, while Stan's clothes were collecting dust in another. Now, you remember I told you Stan was getting shorter. Well, he had also started to sprout some short brown hairs on his back and along his arms and legs. They kept him warm both in the water and out. A fur coat, some might call it. So Stan's clothes were no longer needed, as he went from surf to sand wearing only a tattered pair of boxer-briefs so as not to scare anyone that might see him.

Stan never noticed the slow change in his hair or his height. He didn't even notice that the lady friend he'd met so many months ago was now gone. He was obsessed, some might say. With surfboarding. With waterhills. Each morning after a quick and rather strong cup of coffee, Stan would slide down the face of organic ocean swells, harvesting more stoke than you can imagine. He'd stop only to eat something essential and then return to the ocean to await more waterhills; not sated by the stoke he'd harvested earlier that same day. This was the circle Stan was in.

As time slid on, Stan continued to shrink, shorter and shorter, and the hair that was once on his back and arms now covered quite a bit of his body, even his face. But while his stature had shrunk, his fingers and toes were longer than they'd ever been, and were now connected to one another by a small amount of skin (similar to a sea otter). His surfboarding had become better, though, and the amount of things he owned now numbered fewer than before. A simple existence Stan had. Living day-to-day, spending most of his time waiting for waterhills, soaking up all the stoke.

And then early one evening, after a few hours in the ocean, Stan noticed something. No, Stan noticed everything! His small stature and the thick brown hair that now covered everything from his face to his feet. He noticed the length of his fingers and toes, and the skin that stretched between them. And then he noticed that his girlfriend was gone, as were all the things he'd owned; what remained were an oversized wetsuit that he no longer needed, a well-seasoned skillet and a coffee cup with dark brown stains on the inside.

His beach bungalow had become more of a bivouac. A simple shelter. Most people wouldn’t call it cozy. And as for friends and family... well... Stanley Ficklefog was now a solo show. Gone were the days and nights of drinking. No longer could Stanley be found in the company of others. Replaced with waterhills and the harvesting of stoke, they had been. And it was right around this same time that Stan started to feel something. Something different than the epiphany he'd had so many months (or had it been years?) before. Something he hadn't felt for quite some time. Stan felt sad.

Illustrations come courtesy of Iolo Edger.

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