Friday, July 31, 2009

I'm a wuss.

This week we went swimming at the recreation center I frequented all growing up. I haven't been there in years, but my memories are great of this place. From the snack bar to the ice skating rink to the racquetball/wallyball courts, it really is an experience (even more so since they added splash zones and water slides). But I think it is most notorious for their diving platforms. There are three of them, each about a story, and there is no doubt that they are high and terrifying. Kids would boast about how they'd gone off the first or second platform, but by far the most impressive was the daunting third platform.

Don't get me wrong, I was one of those kids. I'd been off the first my share of times and I even went off the third a couple of times just to say that I had. Not to waste the experience, here I am saying it. I told Jared about the platforms and knew he would also find joy in the ridiculous ritual of purposely jumping off the equivalent of a three story building, if for no other reason than to say he had.

Not great resolution on these pictures, but you can see what I'm referring to.

So we climbed the ladder to the highest one (the third was closed at the time-thankfully!) and stood together before we plunged to the pool below. Once we were up there we both realized that it looked a lot higher once you were up there, and we were pretty scared. Naturally, I had Jared go first, which he did. Then it was my turn...

I let a few kids go before me... then Jared came up again... and I let him go before me too. Okay, that happened three times. I started seeing the same kids come up again and again and two things happened: I let them all go before me and I made some new friends. They gave me tips about what to do so I wouldn't splat onto the water wrong, that I should look at the mountains, that I should walk off or just take a running leap or close my eyes. I stood at the edge more than once but still, I couldn't will myself to take the jump. It was a long way down! And what if I landed wrong? I had kids to think about now.

After a good 20 minutes or so I decided I would work up to it by going off the first platform first. That one was noticeably lower, however for some lame reason I still couldn't go off! I knew climbing down the ladder would mean utter humiliation. I also knew the longer I stood up there I accumulated more and more friends. One "friend" was up there with me for a while; he wouldn't jump either. It was stupid. Why couldn't I just jump? Then, BEEP! "Five minute break, everyone climb down!" So I had to climb down, still humiliated but at least there were 10 or 12 of us.

You would think the story would end here, but you'd be wrong. After the break I had to try again, this time going off the high dive a few times first. I had to redeem myself. I found myself on the first platform again with more and more eyes on me. Not only was my whole family watching and chanting my name, but a sizable crowd of my fellow diving friends joined in as well as life guards and the other hundred or so people at the pool. The pressure was mounting and the embarrassment increasing. Really, it was getting way out of control. I was becoming the laughingstock of the pool. What was my problem? I'd done it before. All I had to do was make the decision, jump and then be fine (assuming the splat didn't go wrong). Eventually three kids formed a barrier from the end of the platform and the ladder so I had no choice but to jump. One said she'd pay me a dollar and another promised three bucks. I guess if I'd stayed up there longer I would have made more...

But it was getting beyond ridiculous, so... I took a step.

Entry into the water was perfect and no bodily injury was inflicted. As I swam toward the side I felt like a some sort of hero or Olympian knowing that all the eyes were on me. I imagined eruptions of cheers and I seemed to hear the Chariots of Fire theme song in the background. By the time I reached the ladder and proudly climbed out, my celebration was interrupted by the lifeguard yelling down at me, "Hey, if you ever do that again, swim to the other ladder!" Evidently, in the midst of my victory, I'd traveled right under the high dive instead of safely swimming back to the wall under the platforms. A small detail, but one that did not help matters, being the laughingstock and all. And no, I am not exaggerating. The lifeguard at the top of the slide asked me if I survived the jump and I received random congratulations the rest of the night.

Long story short, I'm a big wuss! In order to redeem myself again, from the first time I tried to redeem myself, I did climb up to the first platform and jumped off it again without thinking too much. Definitely my problem the first time. No, it was not that bad and no, it was not worth all that anticipation and embarrassment, and yes, it was actually pretty fun... once I finally did it.

FYI, the kid that said he'd pay me three bucks later told me he was lying, the punk!


HeatherIsHere said...

Given the name of the post, I thought you weren't going to do it. Way to go! I love the lifeguard's response "IF you go off again..." This brought back memories of standing on the edge of a cliff at Lake Powell. For about 25 minutes. It definitely looks higher from up there. You've got guts.

Steve Frahm said...

I had a very similar experience on a 35' platform that looked low from the ground and incredibly high from the edge of the slab. 20 minutes later I shut my eyes and leaned forward, hands clenched overhead in a fist as directed, and completed a perfect 270 degree rotation before slapping the water full-force on my back. I think that I only penetrated the water to the depth of about 6 inches because of my idiotic technique.

Weirdly, the bad landing made me feel liberated. I knew that I could not possibly do it worse, so from then on I enjoyed several dives with the confidence of knowing that I survived even the worst consequences of my own ineptitude.

I's a wuss, too, and an inept one at that!

Laura said...

Someone should have dared you to do it, Laura. I hear you will do anything on a dare!!!

Holly and Steve said...

Laura, you are hilarious! i remember go to "the spa" growing up and being so scared to go any higher up than the 1st platform. thanks for a walk down memory lane!

Brian and Callie said...

OH man how did I miss this post?! You are by far WAY braver than me. I can't believe the kid didn't pay up--what's the youth coming too :)