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Falling

Back on Memorial Day weekend, in between my trips to Irvine and NYC (in May) and my crazed Philly-DC-home-DC-Providence trip (in June), I actually got to spend some time with my family.  Nick and his crew (Rachel, Shachar) drove from New Haven, and we all hung out and actually used our backyard—just as we’d hoped to do last summer when we were doing all that neck-straining painting and landscaping and stuff.  There was much ladderball and badminton and beer, with various young guests coming in and out all weekend; the fun was interrupted only by my attempt to trim the Boundary Hedge from Hell, which had grown from its ordinary six feet to something like nine, exploding in all directions and now containing two or three young trees.  Many thanks to Nick and Shachar for helping out!  It is a hideous job, especially for someone like me who was raised in a parking lot and cannot tell a hoe from a pruning saw, and each year when I undertake the task with the electric clippers I rarely fail to cut through the 100-ft. extension cord in the course of the two-hour struggle.  And there is a ladder involved.  Ladders and power cutting-tools—a winning combination any time of year!  But this time Shash held the extension cord so it didn’t get tangled in the hedge (taking care to avoid the sentient parts of the hedge that are capable of reaching out and grabbing the cord), and Nick used ye olde nonelectric hedge clippers to do the edging.  Best of all, these doughty young men hauled out the wheelbarrow and carted away heaps upon heaps of hedge trimmings, until we almost had enough trimmings to make a second hedge. 

And then we decided to go to the pool!  Well, almost.  Nick prevailed upon Shash to stay with him and play Zero Wing World of Zelda Call of Duty Warfare 4, the better to cultivate their pallid complexions, while Janet, Jamie, Rachel and I went to the Penn State Natatorium, where they have those diving platforms that were mentioned in this aquatic-themed thread back in aught-six, when Jamie first worked up the courage to jump off a diving board (check out comment 22, and no, I still haven’t gone off the 7.5m platform and probably never will).

On most days the Nat is pretty empty.  One August day last year it was so empty that the lifeguard allowed Jamie to jump off the 1m platform, even though the 1 and 3 are usually closed—probably because they’re positioned just below the 5 and the 7.5, respectively, and Penn State didn’t want people jumping onto each other or something.  Well, this year was different.  For one thing, all five platforms were open (though no one goes off the 10), and there was a new policy in place: no one goes up the ladder until the previous person has dived.  (In years past, you would have one diver on the 5 and one on the 7.5, and the lifeguard would indicate—by holding up a 5 card or a 7 card—who was cleared to jump.) For another thing, there was a high school girls’ volleyball tournament in town ... except that all the volleyball games must have been over for the day, because holy mother of Moloch with a libero, the Natatorium was packed almost to capacity with teenage girls.  And apparently there’s nothing high school volleyball players want to do more, when they’re not playing volleyball, than to plunge 24.6 feet into a pool.  Dozens of these folk were lined up to jump off the platforms; almost all of them went off the 7.5, half of them running and shrieking and half of them inching to the edge and back in an agony of indecision.

Well, we thought, so much for the platform diving.  Janet and I did the Sunday crossword puzzle while Jamie went his way and Rachel went hers.  Then I swam a few laps, Jamie and Rachel went off the springboard, and we figured that would be it for the day. Time to get back and use that new grill in that redesigned backyard! 

But then Rachel said, “we really have to jump just once.” She was right, of course, but, as I pointed out, the line was almost half an hour long.  “We’ll jump once and then we’ll go,” she persisted, and she was right again.  So we got in line behind 25 or 30 shriekers-and-inchers ... and much to my surprise, after ten minutes, Jamie joined us.  “Jamie,” I asked, “do you really want to jump off the platforms?” “Michael!  I can do it,” he replied.

“OK, then, are you going to jump off the one-meter like you did last year?”

“No way!  I can go off the three.”

I had my doubts.  One of the funny things about those platforms is that they look twice as high once you’re actually on them, so that, for example, when you’re up on the 5 (which doesn’t look very high from the ground) you think you’re jumping off a three-story building; and Jamie, as you well know, has a fear of heights.  Since he’d only gotten over his fear of diving boards four years ago, I figured he would climb up to the three, flip out, and either (a) retreat to the one or (b) get stuck up there so that I’d have to retrieve him.

“Are you absolutely sure?”

“No problem!” he insisted, somewhat dismissively.  Fine, I thought, we have 15-20 minutes to talk this over.  So I told him that he must, must, must hit the water with his feet first.  He must not, must not, must not jump forward the way he does on the spring board, landing knees-and-chest in the water.  He must, must, must jump straight down.  And so forth.  “Michael!” he said, “I got it.”

Indeed he did.  So here he is contemplating his ten-foot jump into the deep end (photo courtesy of the Blackberry of the elusive Janet Lyon):

And he didn’t hesitate for a second.  He sized it up, took a few steps, and wooosh!  Our Jamie went flying into fifteen feet of water from the three-meter platform.  Rachel followed from the 5, and I went last.  Somehow, Janet managed to catch me in mid-flight looking as if I am about to do the Mexican cliff-diving thing from the height of one meter:

Yesterday, on our second trip to the Nat (thankfully it was back to nearly-empty), Jamie not only went off the three again (while I stayed with the five); he also doodled around the far end of the diving well and then decided to take off from the surface (that is, without jumping in) and touch the bottom.  For this he got a warning from the lifeguard (no playing around in the diving well!), but he was so pleased with the feat (and even the lifeguard was secretly impressed) that he swam over to me bursting with glee. “I did it!”

“You did what?” I asked.

“I touched the bottom!  By myself!”

“Wait, you just touched the bottom?  In the deep end?  Just now?”

“Uh huh!”

“With your hand?”

“Yes!  And I pushed myself back up!”

“Wow.” That really is impressive.  “And you had enough air?  Do you feel all right?”

“Michael!  I’m fine!”

“Well, OK then.  But you are a crazy child.  You know that.”

He does, too.  We’ve spent the past two nights camping in the backyard wilderness, braving the elements (the deer, the bears, the wolves, and the lawn furniture), and later today we pack him off for another week’s stay in the LifeLink apartment.  Oh, and one other thing.  Jamie is mindful of the fact that when Nick was about his age, he (Nick) bleached his hair blond with Clorox.  So when I finally prevailed upon him to get his (Jamie’s) hair cut on Friday, he insisted on getting highlights.  Though he didn’t put it quite that way: when the young woman at Supercuts asked him how short he would like his hair, he replied, “blond.” We eventually worked out a deal (he kept picking extremely dark colors from the highlight color samples, which would kind of defeat the purpose), and now he is the proud bearer of some very attractive highlights.  Or, as he prefers to call them, “headlights.”

Nick finds this very hard to believe.  But it’s true!  See?

Posted by on 06/20 at 10:33 AM
  1. Father/son synchronized diving! Now that’s a candidate for new Olympic events. Happy Father’s Day.

    Posted by  on  06/20  at  01:09 PM
  2. I studied the picture before reading the last long paragraph and was wondering if Jamie had inherited his mother’s hair color, because Michael is darker and Jamie’s color was so warm and sunny. Highlights! Awesome. Perfect for summertime.

    You’d never get me off a diving platform, no, sir.

    Captcha: six. As in “how many feet above the water is my limit.”

    Posted by Orange  on  06/20  at  01:43 PM
  3. Happy Father’s’s Day indeed.

    I’m pretty sure I’ve jumped off those platforms myself—would have been something like 35 years ago.  Definitely Penn State, and definitely high platforms in square concrete.  Not sure I’d dare today....

    Posted by Vance Maverick  on  06/20  at  07:51 PM
  4. At what sporting event was the ‘headlights’ shot taken? 

    Happy father’s day!

    {captcha provide.  freaking eerie.}

    Posted by Nell  on  06/20  at  08:09 PM
  5. Though the “haircut” part seems to have been slighted somewhat in favor of the highlighting…

    Posted by Nell  on  06/20  at  08:13 PM
  6. I am about to do the Mexican cliff-diving thing from the height of one meter:

    You really don’t quite have the paunch for it; you are looking quite fit for a man who is “aging.” And yes it is quite amazing how one’s own height somehow doubles the actual height of any diving apparatus.  Props to Jamie, and to you on this Father’s Day.  My two sons called today; the daughters, not so much

    Posted by  on  06/20  at  08:32 PM
  7. Nell@3: I’m guessing State College Spikes vs. Williamsport Crosscutters.

    Posted by  on  06/20  at  09:02 PM
  8. spyder - do cliff divers have paunches these days? I remember seeing cliff diving as a kid back in the good ol’ Wide World of Sports days, and all those divers were very lean.

    Father/son synchronized diving!

    Umm...no.

    Posted by  on  06/21  at  01:16 AM
  9. When did Jamie start calling you Michael?

    Also, have you seen this? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdfPDuhrKQQ

    Posted by  on  06/21  at  08:07 AM
  10. At what sporting event was the ‘headlights’ shot taken? 

    JP has it right, once again.  Spikes v. Cutters, opening night, Saturday, June 19.  But he’s wrong about those mountains in the background.  They are mountains, mountains, I say.

    When did Jamie start calling you Michael?

    The moment he became a teenager, way back in aught-four.  And no, I haven’t seen that PSA—thanks!  Can’t wait ‘til the Special Olympics has a spot for father/ son synchronized diving.

    Posted by  on  06/21  at  09:41 AM
  11. Happy, Happy Father’s Day’ish Weekend Times!  The mdslet went down the big curly playground slide by himself for the first time yesterday, so perhaps it’s time for a trip to the diving platform.  No headlights for him, though.

    It is a hideous job, especially for someone like me who was raised in a parking lot and cannot tell a hoe from a pruning saw

    Oh, you’re wanting someone to bring up that extremely manly photo of you with kaiser hoe and dismembered tree corpse, aren’t you?  Well, I refuse to give you the satisfaction.

    photo courtesy of the Blackberry of the elusive Janet Lyon

    How did this “elusive” meme* get started, anyway?

    *I abuse this term to purely to annoy Sir Richard Dawkins, who back in our college days always refused to share his Levi’s.

    Posted by  on  06/21  at  09:44 AM
  12. How did this “elusive” meme* get started, anyway?

    Janet’s origins are obscure.

    You’d never get me off a diving platform, no, sir.

    Yes, but then again, Orange, you can do the Sunday puzzle in seven minutes or less, which terrifies most ordinary mortals.  And my apologies for the shtoopid Akismet filter that had you in moderation overnight!  I’m going to give that thing such a kick.

    Posted by Michael  on  06/21  at  10:06 AM
  13. And my apologies for the shtoopid Akismet filter that had you in moderation overnight!

    Akismet: So Random and Indiscriminate That You’ll Stop Believing in Fate.

    Posted by  on  06/21  at  10:15 AM
  14. Those are definitely mountains.  Such as we have around here, in fact… a bit worn down, but beautifully blue.

    Posted by Nell  on  06/21  at  12:05 PM
  15. No worries, Michael. I understand exactly why I ended up in moderation. It’s because I am increasingly bad-ass, and Akismet read between the lines and was frightened of me.

    Captcha: theory.

    Posted by Orange  on  06/21  at  12:37 PM
  16. That’s a great Father’s Day posting. I know how much you and Jamie like drumming and wondered if you’d seen this yet:
    http://www.i-am-bored.com/bored_link.cfm?link_id=50509

    Amazing 13yo Japanese girl. Horrid song.

    Posted by  on  06/21  at  03:20 PM
  17. Fourteen feet is a long way to go down to accomplish that feet; it is not all that easy to do from the surface with a free dive.  Most excellent Jamie. 

    As Oaktown Girl recalls the WWoS diving competitions, which were held around the world from various cliffs and even restaurants (oh Monaco), were competitive events with “professional divers.” While i, on the other hand, clearly remember the hey-days of the Mexican cliff-diving thing in Acapulco with lots of paunches (paunches, we don’t want to see no stinking paunches).  These days not so much, indeed.

    Posted by  on  06/21  at  05:49 PM
  18. Loosely drape the cord across your shoulders, leaving it loose enough to allow the full extension of your arms, and depending upon which side of your body is closest to the object of your mechanical focus.  This generally precludes any pretentious proclivities you might encounter “to cut the cord”.  As for the ladder, most reputable trimmers (and many of the less reputable ones) are equipped with a Kill Switch.  Of course, there’s also a switch to kill the Kill Switch, which appears to be somewhat counter-productive since the Kill the Kill Switch Switch is most often employed in hazardous situations.

    I’ve often managed to whittle down an extension
    cord to half its length by repeatedly re-splicing the cord socket, so a good rule of thumb is to buy a cord that’s twice as long as the distance required to complete the task.

    Posted by  on  06/21  at  06:06 PM
  19. ...and remember to include a spare cord socket.

    Posted by  on  06/21  at  06:16 PM
  20. Or you could just get a cordless electric chain saw that works with your other battery-powered tools. 

    feat, feet, feet feat- d’oh!

    Posted by  on  06/21  at  06:58 PM
  21. Loosely drape the cord across your shoulders, leaving it loose enough to allow the full extension of your arms, and depending upon which side of your body is closest to the object of your mechanical focus.  This generally precludes any pretentious proclivities you might encounter “to cut the cord”.  As for the ladder, most reputable trimmers (and many of the less reputable ones) are equipped with a Kill Switch.

    This is virtually identical to the technical description of a ritual suicide apparatus in the latest issue of Death Cult Monthly.

    Posted by  on  06/21  at  07:43 PM
  22. the fun was interrupted only by my attempt to trim the Boundary Hedge from Hell,

    I’ve had some fun with my neighbor’s totally neglected Boundary Hedge from Hell this year. First, the heavy snows bent much of the top of its 9 to 12 feet of hedginess down into our yard. We’re pretty casual about foliage, but this prompted even us to trim back oodles of it in early spring. Then one evening last week I come home to find said neighbor halfway through cutting them completely down. Fine, except I would have preferred he kinda, sorta had cleaned up his totally trashed yard (visible from Google Earth) before undertaking the removal of the sight barrier. (He is this absolute workaholic self-trained handyman who basically gutted and re-built his whole house over the past decade, but who has every leftover beam, tool or pile of material still moldering in the yard.) So with a steely glint in my eye I went over and helped him take out the rest of the hedge without saying shit about shit. Because I’m a Democrat.

    Posted by  on  06/22  at  12:36 AM
  23. Ritual suicide?  It only seems that way to those accustomed to the ritual operation of a keyboard and mouse.  Although, to be honest, I would never advocate splicing a cord socket before you unplug the other end.

    Posted by  on  06/22  at  01:05 AM
  24. Thank Bob for circuit breakers.

    Posted by  on  06/22  at  11:42 AM
  25. JP - too funny!

    Posted by  on  06/22  at  12:36 PM
  26. Or you could just get a cordless electric chain saw that works with your other battery-powered tools.

    That’s like bringing a taser to a revivalist meeting.  What’s the point of cutting down a tree if you can’t cut down two additional trees to supply the fuel to manufacture and operate it.

    Posted by  on  06/22  at  01:37 PM
  27. <Ctrl+X>.</Ctrl+X><Ctrl+V>?</Ctrl+V>

    Sorry.

    Posted by  on  06/22  at  01:49 PM
  28. That’s like bringing a taser to a revivalist meeting.

    You say that like it’s a bad thing, JJ.

    Srsly, I’m not liking the “drape the cord around your neck three times” option or the “buy a cordless redwood-chopping machine” option.  Perhaps someone could suggest the “hire some likely young man to do the job for you” option?

    Posted by Michael  on  06/22  at  08:58 PM
  29. Or you could just hire some likely young man to do the job for you.

    (And for the really inexpensive option, you could “drive him to the natatorium” afterward, as we used to call it back in my Continental Op days.)

    Posted by  on  06/22  at  10:30 PM
  30. Suggesting the option you could just hire some likely young man to do the job for you.

    Perhaps because it is an option you consistently resist?

    Posted by  on  06/23  at  03:10 PM
  31. Perhaps because it is an option you consistently resist?

    But I’m a changed man, spyder, really I am.

    Posted by Michael  on  06/23  at  04:26 PM
  32. But I’m a changed man

    I hope so, or you’d still be going about in your diving attire.

    Posted by  on  06/24  at  11:26 AM
  33. The “diving attire” t-shirt would leave such an interesting tan line.

    Posted by  on  06/24  at  05:57 PM

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