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Adventures on the High Dive

Look Out Below!
Look Out Below!

A thing one must keep in mind about the high dive, that skinny board overlooking the swimming pool from what may seem at best at cloud level, is that others probably have gone before — and left wet footprints behind.

Now wet means slippery and slippery means: "Look out below!" An unintentional skidding departure from the high dive can put you on the low dive in about one second flat. Here, "flat" means flat on your back. The sound of contact between back and board resembles the smack on a new baby's bottom, decibeled about a hundredfold. It can smart like perdition, if you know what I mean.

As you lay there, attempting to rejuvenate the old lungs, you become conscious, beyond the pain, of a phenomenon you put down as something, not surprisingly, that has gone wrong with your hearing. Taking the baby bottom metaphor a tad farther, it sounds much like the clapping rendered by witnesses to a birthing. Then you realize the clapping actually is clapping and it comes from people around the pool applauding what apparently appeared to them an intentional act done by yourself for the comic effect. Indeed, you detect a considerable amount of laughing accompanied by shouts of "Bravo!" and "Do it again!"

Well, you have done it before and you can do it again; completing a reasonably proficient plunge from the high dive does not reside beyond your athletic capabilities. Not at all. So you rise, gently, gently, and totter your way back along the low dive to the safety of the poolside cement, acknowledging your good fortune in not having landed here. Grimly, you start up the steps to the high dive. This time, however, you take a towel with you to wipe the foot slime off the diving board's surface.

Your eyes leap from their sockets as if impelled by springs as you stare in horror.

At the top you notice with relief that some of the clouds have dispersed and the distance down to the pool now seems a little less than a league. Moving at a cautious crouch, you edge out onto the board, toweling vigorously as you go. No slip-ups this time, you vow.

Now, as ready as a mother taking her newborn to her bosom, you stand tippy-toe at the end of the high dive. You adjust your arms for perfect poise, give a little hop, and spring into the air. As you leave the board, you feel a toe touch the towel you had dropped after drying the board. Does this affect your dive in any way? Well, as a matter of fact, it does.

You somersault in a cartwheeling tumble, arms and legs flailing in a failed attempt to regain control of the dive, to a walloping belly flop in a pool of water that gives way like so much concrete. You wish for the cushioned embrace of the low diving board. Now you smart all over. You surface, spluttering, to the sound of more applause. Everybody enjoys your hilarious performances.

Slowly you paddle toward the far end of the pool, intent on escaping the area. You glance back for one last, sad look at the high dive. Your eyes leap from their sockets as if impelled by springs as you stare in horror. Dangling from the end of the high dive, you see your purple and pink polka dot swimming trunks.

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