Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Glorious Days of a Mis-Spent Youth

Yesterday, I read a blog posted by one of my newest Yuwie friends, Dawn, in which she talked about an embarassing incident that took place recently involving diving into a swimming pool. I'll spare you the details but I can certainly share in her pain...

And here's why...

Back in my teenage days, I used to run around the small Missouri ozarks town of Mansfield with 2 of my cousins. One of them was pretty much always an accident waiting to happen (they used to light the fuse on a firecracker and sit and hold the thing while watching the fuse burn) and you would think that would send up a red flag with me,

Let me tell you about 3 separate incidents in my past that have probably removed a few days from my anticipated life span. I don't remember my exact age during these events, but suffice it to say that it was likely somewhere between the ages of 15 and 19.

Case number 1) Winter time. Sledding. Steep hills. Ahhh, I see a picture starting to formulate in your mind! It was night time and we had recently had a heavy snowfall and so one evening my cousins and I walked over to a hill on the east end of town. There was a long road going down this hill that was glazed over with ice and snow and looked perfect for sledding. No cars were out that night and we knew it was gonna be a great ride on our sleds. My cousin Brad went first and he rode his sled as far as it would take him. This is where we saw one slight problem in our plan. The walk back up the hill was incredibly long if we let our momentum carry us. So my cousin Garland went next and he found a snowdrift at the base of the hill that he could turn off into and stop and not have to walk back as far. Seemed like a good idea to me.

Anyway, my turn came and I took off down the hill, picking up speed fast. The ride was incredible and when I got to the drift where Garland had turned, I turned as well. However, I turned a little too sharply and rolled off the sled, laying there on my back in the snow. I thought about sitting up but something told me not yet. About a split second later, my sled came crashing down across my face, hitting me in the nose. It wasn't broken, but it hurt like hell! We decided to call it a night after that.

Case number 2) Winter time again, this time in daylight. I don't remember if it was before or after the above incident. We had been sledding in a friends back yard, down a hill that led to a small opening in a fence. On one side of the opening there was the wire fence and on the other, there was a snow covered woodpile. Well, my cousin Garland decided when I took off down the hill, he wanted to race me for the opening in the fence. We were running neck and neck and at the last minute, I cut him off and reached the opening first. Garland smashed into the woodpile.

Case number 3) Summer time at the swimming pool. I think I was 17 or 18 when this happened. We had been diving off the high dive and Garland started trying to do trick dives. He would hang off the end of the high dive, swing his body back and forth, release and turn his body into a dive while his legs were out behind his body. So of course we all had to try it.

I got up there and got into position hanging off the board. I started swinging my legs back and forth and it suddenly occured to me that if I released when he did, I stood a good chance of doing a belly flop and I didn't want to do that. So I released at the opposite point and headed for the water.

My head hit the water first. Barely. That's pretty much the only thing that went right. The next thing to hit was my legs. Just above my knees. On the concrete edge of the pool. Yeah, it hurt.

My cousins watching me said I looked like one of those cartoon characters as I slid slowly into the water. I realized how lucky I was as I came within inches of shattering my knee caps. Years later when I met up with them again and I got to introduce my sons to their kids, I issued a warning. I told my boys that if somewhere down the line these cousins tried to introduce them to new tricks and special dives that they should probably think twice about doing them and to use their best judgement. And to consider themselves warned.

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