Diving Board

Risk-taking comes – somewhat and with a lot of convincing – naturally to me.

I did a lot of stupid things as a kid, and still do a lot of stupid things as an adult. I was a fat kid so doing things that my skinnier friends could do was more of a challenge than I ever could admit to myself. If someone would do a handstand, I would end up landing on my head because my arms weren’t strong enough to support the crushing weight of my body being pulled down at a higher force by gravity.

It lead to a lot of laughs, my parents weren’t always nice to me.

One thing I always wanted to master was the flip. There was something so alluring about it to me. People were instantly impressed by it, maybe that was it. Or maybe it was the idea that if you can’t flip, landing on your neck and becoming paralyzed is proof that you at least gave it your all!

I would consider myself an apathetic athlete. Now what I mean by that is that I love sports and love to play them but not enough that I’m willing to put in any real kind of effort to ever get better.

Now I know what you’re thinking and if I considered myself an athlete because I bowled for a few years then Michael Jackson should always be considered white.

One day I thought, “landing in water wouldn’t be so bad when I tried my first flip off a diving board.”

My aunt had a swimming pool with a diving board in her backyard and I secretly planned to make my first attempt – Eval Knievel style – in front of adorning fans that liked to tell me constantly that despite how fat I was they weren’t embarrassed that we were family, they just didn’t want too promote it.

My flip stunt was also my first introduction to guerrilla marketing because no one knew this was happening until I shouted out to everyone, “Hey look at me! I’m about to do a flip!”

No one really reacted, my mom’s face showed grave concern as she shouted, “NOOOOOO!”

It was too late.

As I pushed myself off the end of the diving board I felt myself starting to flip in the air. The feeling was amazing. It was liberating and scary and my adrenaline was coursing through my veins.

I felt alive.

And then I stopped flipping at – oh – about 270 degrees.

If you’re not good at math, which I’m not either and had to look up what degree my body would be at and it said 98.2 – stupid Google, that means my body was parallel to the water and not perpendicular which would be an entire 360 degree rotation.

The moment my rotation stopped I realized that this situation was not good.

When I heard the gun shot sound that resonated I then understood why this situation was horrible. My back hit the water at a completely flat angle which caused such a severe pain in my back that I remember thinking, “I think I just gave myself gills.” I honestly thought the water caused my back to split open to create gills like those found on a sting ray or shark.

Screaming underwater is an interesting feat and one that allows you to taste chlorine for the first time. I was in so much pain that I could hardly move. My lifeless looking body floated to the top of the water and then I flipped myself over and finally caught my breath.

A few concerned faces were looking down on me and some of my cousins couldn’t stop laughing at my pain and misery and that’s when the embarrassment took over.

The lesson I really learned that day is that maybe looking cool isn’t worth all the pain and effort and that plastic surgery will never be an option for me.

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