As I lounged, sweet tea in hand, in the “Adults Only” section of our Family Fun Center (a 7×5 foot inflatable pool complete with pump and chemicals), my mind drifted to a pool in the Florida town where I grew up.
When I was about eight or nine-years old, my mom enrolled me in swimming lessons at our town’s City Pool. I don’t remember much about those swim lessons other than it was the 60′s, I did learn to swim and the one day I refused to cooperate with my swim instructor.
Since my memory is a bit foggy, I’m going to assume my swim class had progressed from actual swim lessons to the more advanced skill of jumping off the high-dive (either that or our parents were trying to have us killed). Now, when I say “high-dive” I’m here to tell you it was high…Olympic-size high. It was so high, in fact, that as I slowly walked towards the edge and looked down my body became paralyzed with fear.
Below me in the clear, sparkling pool water was my swim teacher instructing me on how to jump, promising he would be waiting when I did. Yeah, right. Ever the cautious child, I assessed the risk of this high-dive situation based on how fast my heart was beating and the taste of bile that was making its way up from my belly into my throat.
As my instructor kept talking, I began shaking my head “NO”, as in “No way, you crazy man!” It didn’t matter that my classmates were waiting and mumbling impatiently behind me for their chance to take the plunge. There was no way I was going in that water!
My swim teacher, bless his heart, eventually got the message that I wasn’t jumping by his safety instructions alone, so he tried to trick me into jumping by telling me to imagine different things waiting for me at the bottom of the pool. “Imagine there’s a pot of gold waiting on you,” he said excitedly. Well, now, I didn’t just fall off the back of a turnip truck, so I knew there was no gold in that pool…fool’s gold maybe, but my mama didn’t raise no fool!
I stood on the diving board shaking my head “no” for what seemed like an eternity, my instructor pulling out every trick in his swim teacher instruction bag to get me to do so. He could have sweet-talked and cajoled me until he was blue in the face and it would have made absolutely no difference because I. WAS. NOT. JUMPING! At some point, both my instructor and I became exasperated with the whole darn situation and I eventually retreated off the diving board feeling confident I had made a life saving decision.
Was I disappointed I didn’t jump off that high-dive? Um, nope; not one iota. To this day I still haven’t attempted or even thought about jumping off a platform high in the sky no matter how hot the weather, the instructor or how enticing the water waiting on me below.
No, I would rather sip my sweet tea and lounge in my shallow Family Fun Center thinking about those knuckleheaded kids who fell for that pot of gold trick at the City Pool that warm summer day.