Poolside Regret This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Gosh, I love to watch people dive. Well, boys mostly. I'm not some kind of sex-crazed maniac or anything, it's just that girls can't do the same kinds of dives. Not that I'm sexist or anything, it's just true.

That's a definite plus of this job, watching the guys dive off the diving board at the deep end of the pool. A definite minus is having to watch little kids flop around in the shallow end, and hoping none of them goes under for more than two minutes. Then panic sets in that I'll actually have to use the stuff I learned in lifeguard classes a million years ago. I'm a real lifeguard, it's just that there's a big difference between blowing air into a dummy and pumping a plastic chest, and doing it on a real, blue person.

Anyway, the plus of this job is watching guys dive. They come in small groups, tall and brown, with swim trunks in colors like blue and green and red. They're usually rich, because if you belong to the Seaside Golf and Pool, you're usually rich. They climb up the board, all white and sparkling (the board, I mean) and they sometimes test out its bounciness before they go off the end. They stand there, testing it, just going up and down, up and down on their toes, nice and easy. They keep their heads down, like they're thinking hard about what they can do with the board, and they look up to see if anyone is watching them, tall and brown as they are. (They're usually a little disappointed to see just me, sitting in the lifeguard chair with my tongue hanging out.)

Then they back away from the board, now that they know they have an audience, and they take this nice slow run from the back to the front of the board. Almost in slow motion, like they're antelopes taking long, large steps. They reach the end in about a million years, then they come down hard on the bouncy part and spring up to the blue, cloudless sky.

Here's the amazing part: they stay up there for what seems forever. I don't know how they do it, their bodies taut and funny, arms way up, almost doubling their height, and then they s-l-o-w-l-y make an arc, you could even call it graceful, and they come down the side of the arc and split the blue, clean water with their fingertips like a sheet of glass, and go crashing through the surface all the way to the center of the earth.

Right about now I let out a huge breath that I didn't know I had been holding, and a head pops up in some unexpected place in another part of the pool, and his hair is all wet and slicked back like a dolphin and he turns to see what his buddy will do, and it all begins again.

There I was, enjoying the diving and who do I see across the pool, just coming into the club but Jimmy. He fits right into the tall and brown category, all right. He's not a member, I know, but then I see one of the other guys who is a member say hi and what took you so long and come on in the water's fine. I figured out that he's a guest, and right away it's a tremendous relief because that would be about the worst thing in the world - Jimmy's family becoming members.

Then I realized that it's not all that wonderful because he's going to see me eventually and either a) come over and talk or b) ignore me. Both were terrible choices.

Jimmy and I went out for a while. A very little while. OK, three and a half weeks. Yeah, I know, it's nothing. But when a guy like Jimmy asks you out and then again, and then AGAIN, you kind of want to make it seem important.

On our first date we went to the movies, and on our second date we went to the movies, and on our third date we went to a party at his friend's house, and it went on like that, three or four nights a week for three and a half weeks. He was nice, and cute and, of course, tall and brown, so I thought I had it made. But I guess he didn't think so, because he got back together with his old girlfriend Melissa. It made perfect sense to me that he broke it off. It wouldn't be fair to lead me on, right?

He saw me, of course. It took about half a second. He came right over and said, he said, "Hi, Tracy. How's it going?"

Now what do you think I said? Did I say, Gee Jimmy, are you still going with Melissa? Did I say, Wow, Jimmy, you look great in a bathing suit? Did I say, Gosh, Jimmy, I think about you every waking moment and would you like to marry me tomorrow?

No. You wouldn't think I would say that. You would think I'd say, Oh, OK, Jimmy. Yeah, that's what I said. Just like that "Oh, OK, Jimmy."

And the rest I forget, probably because I wasn't really all that interested in what Jimmy had to say. I really wanted to watch the next diver, the one who was just climbing up the board. n


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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