Sunday, 19 July 2009

Letting go of the wall

There was a place where we used to go to swim and "hang out" when we were all younger.
Actually, the place is still there, but its private now, so this generation of misfits cant go there to enjoy the beauty of it.
There is a waterfall on the Lehigh River, just downstream from rt 115. Its a spectacular place, with a big (15 or so ft.) thunderous waterfall, and a deep "hole" into which the afore mentioned misfits used to jump and dive into.

We all knew that you had to jump "just so" because there was an underwater ledge that was invisible from above the water, and if you hit it, we surmised, it would be all bad.
One day, I got the courage (stupidity, sudden lapse of all sense whatsoever......) to dive in head first, but what the heck, I knew where and how to do it, so.................
I did. And I hit the water like the aflac duck launched across a yard..................and as I hit the water, I held my breath for two reasons. The first being obvious, and the second being sheer terror.

And for good reason.
I got out of the water, and noticed my toes were all bloody, and they hurt like hell.
I missed that portruding ledge alright, for the most part. Except for my toes. They wacked that ledge and paid the price for it.
THAT, is what you call a close call. Maybe 6 or so inches different, and I'd have gotten it right in the name of the father.
But, being a slow learner, I didnt stop there. A year or two later on my journey to top the last stupid move, we were once again swimming, but this time in a nice, safe, suburban inground swiming pool. We were warned to "dive shallow", because it was a short, small inground pool, and someone previously hit the bottom.
Yeah, not a good combination.
Standing on the diving board, I remembered the warning/instructions, and let er rip. "watch THIS girls," I thought and entered the water like....well...a dorky teenager. "ok, dive shallow", I thought as I dove in, and then swept my arms to pull myself up to the surface..................and I hit, this time, right in the name of the father.
Then my neck snapped, and my mouth hit full force on the bottom of the concrete pool.
As I lay on the bottom I thought (and I'm not making this up) "this cant be good, I gotta get outta here...."
But my body couldnt do what my oh-so-eloquent brain was suggesting. The whole neck snapping thingy.
I'm not sure of much after that point, but I do remember someone holding me outside the pool while I spit teeth out, and then its all blurry......

So I dont dive much anymore. Fool me twice, and its a done deal.
I'll take up a safer sport, like Ice hockey. Sounds reasonable, right?
Being stationed in North frickin Dakota, and doing things like repelling from hovering helicopters for fun and profit, I figured ice hockey was not only logical, but safe by comparison.
Skating is like flying. Probably a lot like surfing, without the sharks and girls in bikinis. Freedom and exhiliration, all while getting to crush other like minded freedom and exhiliration loving individuals in the process. What a sport.

Many years after my swimming mishaps, I'm in the locker room with teammates getting geared up for the nights game.
I come off with "I got some bad news and some good news today. The bad news, is that I had my first colonoscopy. The GOOD news, is that I'm definitely not gay."
I learned that night there are some jokes that don't go over very well in a room full of naked men.
I learned a lot that night, as it turned out.

So I'm 40-something years old, and headed up ice (I cant remember if I was chasing or being chased with the puck, but I'm certain there was a fast 20 something stud in the picture providing my need for increased speed.....)
anywho, I'm flying like the wind, and then, yeeeeeeeouch. I leap off the ice in excruciating pain, hit the ice in the fetal position, and slide.
Headfirst into the boards.
Whomever was chasing or being chased by me, skated by and yelled "CLEANUP ON ISLE THREE" (a little hockey humor there), but I was stuck there, not sure what the heck just happened. A ref skated by and asked if I was ok, and I spoke (whispered) "yeah"
Then I crawled, ala snoopy behind enemy lines, across the ice and back to the bench.
There I undressed, and found the problem to be that my upper thigh (you know, THAT area), was completely black. I ripped something but good. My hamstring was sprung. So much for freedom and exhiliration.
Now all my gear sits in bags in the basement, but every once in a while I look at it, and remember why and when. No, its not a yoot thing, its a heart thing.
I'm not afraid of the pain, but I need to be physically fit for my work, or I cant work. Being the bread winner means everybody suffers if I dont bring home the bread. What I do affects others, so decisions are about more than just exhiliration and freedom.
Yes, I want to skate and play again, but theres a lot of risk involved. If I dont get hurt, its as good as it gets, but if I do, then its all bad.
While driving yesterday, I saw an old teammate jogging , so I stopped and talked to him for a while.
Yesterday got me thinking about all this.

How many of you go to the ice arena and rent skates, only to clip clip clip around the ice, while holding onto the wall?? You know, like a three year old in her fathers shoes??
That aint skating.
Let go of the wall.


Fallings not so bad, by comparison.

Just make sure you dont hurt someone else out there in the process.


  1. Man, Ted. You may not remember your diving accident, but I sure do. You scared the bejeebers out of all of us. I remember the DHS wrestling coach (can't remember his name just now) kicking into emergency medicine mode when you staggered to the edge of the pool (I think it was a graduation party or something). While he took care of you, I drove to your house to pick up your mom and take her to the hospital to meet you there. REALLY really scary. I'm glad your memory is fuzzy about it; I'm sure it would be no fun to remember - especially the next day or two after. But I was thankful then (as now) that you hadn't permanently damaged your spine, and that you recovered fully (with your sense of humor in tact). :o) I don't remember a whole lot from high school, but your hitting the bottom of that pool is something I'll never forget.

    See... writers never really do experience "problems"; they just gain anecdotes to write about.

    Here's to a few less anecdotes for us both!

  2. It was Lou Issacs, I think (the wrestling coach). :D

  3. I didnt have a CLUE about any of those details, Joan. Thanks.

    No, no permanent damage (that probably wasnt already present)

    I got a million stories like that.

    well, 30 anyways