A young surfer, usually (but not always) under 16 years of age.

Among the most important terms in surfspeak, grommet generally refers to a young surfer, one often, but not always, insolent or smarmy toward his elders.

Typically sporting sun-bleached hair, sun-split lips, baggy trunks and a goofy grin, the grommet has for decades been the subject of cruel and unusual punishments.

Extreme cases of grommet hazing are not rare. In some instances, as with the infamous "Grommet Pole" at North Narrabeen in Australia, it's common for hapless youngins to be tied to it naked, lashed with leashes and doused in doo-dee.

Yet the grommet represents the future of every homebreak. In him, the elder sees himself many years ago and therein exists an unspoken respect, that all parties are part of a rich heritage, tied to the ages.

Exact history of the term is hazy, but accepted theory has it being a bastardization of its '50s California forerunner "gremmie," which itself was a variation of gremlin. And a gremlin is what little surf kids often look liked with sun blisters, dirty feet and salty skin.

It's worth noting that grommet does not imply that the kid surfs like a kook. In fact, nearly every legendary ripper (excluding Tom Curren and Dave Parmenter) was at one time a cheeky grommet ripe for the titty-twisting.

It should further be noted that how old one is isn't necessarily the issue. For festive, prankster-minded vets such as Corky Carroll or Rabbit Bartholomew, grommethood is clearly more a state of mind than a reflection of age. -- Greg Heller

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