By Joe Hobby
I’ll admit that I have done many embarrassing things in my life. And the vast majority of them were self-inflicted. I walked into a sliding glass door because I didn’t see it. In high school, I fell off a bridge into a ditch because I wasn’t looking where I was going. I’ve run over a street sign as an adult because I wasn’t paying attention. But what I’m about to tell you wasn’t completely my fault. I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time—kind of.
Many years ago, our church had a summer picnic. It was at a place called Zamora, a beautiful piece of property nestled in the hills just northeast of Birmingham. It was perfect for gatherings. There were big pavilions with tables where little old church ladies put out their wonderful, cholesterol-raising casseroles. There were also flowing fields and a pretty fishing lake. But of all of the amenities at Zamora, I liked their swimming pool the best.
That big ol’ pool was gorgeous. The water was as clear as a freshly cleaned window. In addition, it was close to the lake, so all the swimmers could enjoy the spectacular views.
But my favorite thing was the diving board. It was a real springy one that provided prodigious heights when kids were doing cannonballs, can openers, or flips. The kind of board that made a “fop-fop-fop” noise while the diver was still in the air. Even though I was in my early thirties, the kid in me was attracted to it like a weatherman to a tornado.
So, I got in line and jumped off that board. It was like going back in time. I happily discovered that flying in the air before hitting the water was as much fun in my thirties as in my teens.
“Why not take it to the next level?” I thought. “Why not see if thirtysomething Joe can do a dive that teenage Joe could do?”
I was thinking of the 1 1/2. It’s a forward flip of one and a half times that, when appropriately executed, results in a smooth headfirst entry into the water. I have no earthly idea why I believed I could perform this dive at this age. I had a hard time doing it when I was sixteen. I hadn’t tried it in years. Forget common sense. Ego ruled.
I began my preparation by making several basic dives to test the board’s spring. To my delight, it was working perfectly. I can only imagine what I looked like. I’m sure most people thought I looked like Shamu making a giant splash at Seaworld. Not me. In my mind, I was just a couple of points below qualifying for the summer Olympics. I was so glad my wife had the video camera with her. Forget our kids – I was so sure I could pull this off that I wanted it recorded for all posterity.
It was time. Focusing intently, I made the run down the diving board and hit the end as hard as possible. Then, I sprang high, tucked in a tight ball, and began to rotate.
In a second, it was over, and it felt pretty good. I definitely went in the water head first. In my mind, that made it a complete success. So I expected the applause and accolades that should accompany such a high-quality dive. However, when I surfaced, all I heard was silence – except for about a dozen people near the baby pool who were laughing uncontrollably. One of them was my wife – with a video camera in hand. I turned in the water and looked back at the people in line behind me. They were staring at the platform – where the diving board used to be. One kid pointed in my direction and said, “Hey, that guy broke it.” Then I watched in horror as the last of the board disappeared under the water like the Titanic.
I was stunned. How did this happen? I’ll admit I was a few pounds heavier than in my high school days. But diving boards were made for people of all sizes. And there were all kinds of people jumping that day. Nevertheless, the facts are the facts: when I began my dive, the board was there, and after my dive, it was under ten feet of water.
The lifeguard immediately began salvage operations while I got out of the pool and shamefully headed toward my group. It seemed like every pair of eyes was fixed on me. That’s because they were. Who didn’t want to get a look at the board breaker? Of course, by now, my wife was trying to rewind the video on the camera. And all of my so-called church friends greeted me with comments like, “that should be on America’s Funniest Home Videos,” or “man, you might want to check out Weight Watchers,” or “how’d you do that?” They thought they were so funny; however, I thought they were quite un-Christian. But considering the circumstances, Jesus might’ve had a few zingers too.
I watched the replay. My wife insisted, of course. Right after I hit the end of the board, it rebounded, broke loose, slid in the water, and slowly sank. It was bad enough to look at it, but hearing my wife and my friends laughing on the videotape took it to a new level of embarrassment.
Later, the lifeguard told me that the bolts holding the diving board to the platform were corroded and rusted through. I just happened to be the very large straw that broke the camel’s back. If there had only been one more person in front of me, he might’ve been the guy who was humiliated. But that’s not the way it works with me. I’m usually the guy it happens to. So I’ve learned to accept it.
That was the last time I swam at Zamora. I was afraid that if I went back, a sinkhole might appear at the bottom of the pool and suck me into the center of the earth. What are the odds of that? Not much higher than a diving board breaking off when you’re jumping on it.
That’s my opinion, anyway.
Find more of Joe’s stories on his blog: https://mylifeasahobby.blogspot.com/?m=1. Also, follow him on Facebook at Joe Hobby Comedian- Writer.