The Hubris of Youth

by

07/22/2003

St. George Pool, Clark St.

Neighborhood: Brooklyn, Brooklyn Heights

When I was about fifteen, I was really full of myself and thought I could dive.

So, I invited this girl to go to the St. George Pool in Brooklyn, which then was the Mecca for all the Olympic divers and swimmers.

I was going to impress the hell out her when she saw what I could do.

I had her sit at one end of the pool so she could get a really good view.

All around the place were mirrors, and everybody at the side of the pool watched every diver climb up to the high board and then do these incredible twists and turns and knife into the water. The crowd would give a huge ovation.

Every diver looked like the statue of David–perfect physical specimens. I’m sure I didn’t look like much more than a kid in a diaper. But, I saw myself as one of these guys.

I noticed the guys who did back flips did this really cool thing: they strode right to the edge of board, did a sharp about-face, and poised on their toes, held their arms straight out, stood motionless for an instant, and then sprang high into the air, flipping in a tight ball until they disappeared into the pool without a splash.

I decided I was going to do a back flip…and do that cool move, the sharp about-face at the end of the board before I dived.

I had no idea what it was for, but I was gonna do it, too.

Finally, it was my turn to climb the ladder. I could feel every eye on me. These were all Olympic divers.

I got to the top of the board…And, there they were…all looking up at me. And the girl I brought was at the other end of the pool, beaming.

So, I strode to the end of the board, did an about-face and leaped high into the air, and started to flip.

I was too close to the board and I grazed my forehead–not enough to hurt myslelf– but it threw my dive all off, and I went ass-over- teakettle, arms and legs flying in every direction, and I hit the water: SPLAT!

Now, I’m underwater, thinking: how can I get out of here without anyone seeing me. And, while I’m thinking it over, the lifeguard jumps in to save me.

And, he’s pulling me out of the water by the chin. And all the people by the side of the pool are going: “Is he OK?”

Then, when he gets me out of the pool, he lectures me: “If you don’t know how to dive, you shouldn’t be here!”

It was so mortifying, to this day, I don’t even remember if I left with the girl.

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