On April 5, 2023

Edge of disaster

I was lucky enough to grow up in a neighborhood that bordered a municipal park. I could walk out my front door, hop on my bike, and be at the park in less than two minutes.

The park encompassed several acres and included tennis and basketball courts, a baseball diamond, a playground with a slides, swings, and jungle gyms, and our town’s largest public pool.

I spent most of my free time at this park, palling around with friends and getting into minor mischief whenever possible. In the winter, however, the area became barren since most of the available activities didn’t function well under a deep blanket of snow.

I actually enjoyed roaming around the park when it was empty. In the winter, I’d traverse the grounds looking for inquisitive things to explore. And when I got really daring, I’d hop the fence and scout around the empty pool.

During the summer months when the pool was open, I was always loitering, so much so that I knew all the lifeguards by name. My mother told me as long as I took swimming lessons I could go to the pool whenever I wanted. And as much as I hated those early morning lessons, I knew they were my key to a summer of freedom.

The pool had two giant diving boards. One was a low-dive that sat a few feet off the ground and the other was a high-dive that sat about 15 feet above the waterline. We called this high-dive the tower.

The tower was intimidating for most kids, myself included. It took me several years before I’d do anything except jump off it. Eventually, however, I got up enough nerve to dive. And with lots of practice, I worked my way up to a 1 1/2 somersault, which became my self-imposed limit. I’d seen other kids attempt more difficult dives and I’d seen how infrequent their success was.

However, at one point a friend convinced me to try a backwards flip off the tower. The dive didn’t seem that intimidating on paper, but I had a mental block when it came to throwing my body off that height without any visual cues to reference.

I’d watch my friend pull off this dive dozens of times; he made it look easy. He even told me the secret to doing it, which involved overriding everything your brain says about survival.

Eventually, I got up the nerve to try it and to my shock, it turned out to be really easy. In fact, it was so easy that I started doing it all the time. I’d climb the tower ladder, walk out to the end of the board, turn around, balance my toes on the edge, and then throw myself backwards into the air. After that, gravity took over.

This particular dive also encompassed an air of exhilaration, likely caused by the odd backwards flipping motion that the body experiences.

Unfortunately, I got so relaxed with this dive that I stopped taking the proper precautions. One day I nonchalantly walked out to the end of the board, turned around, and threw myself off. For whatever reason, on this attempt I caught too much air, flipped quicker than normal, and banged my head against the edge of the board before awkwardly tumbling into the water.

When I hit the water and surfaced, I put my hand to my throbbing head. When I pulled it away, my hand was covered in blood. The lifeguard on duty jumped in and pulled me to the side of the pool, after which they called my mother. (Nowadays the pool would have to be emptied and sterilized, but back then they just waited for the blood to dissipate.)

Due to my negligence, I ended up with eight stitches across my scalp and a raging headache for a couple days. I never attempted that dive again, but every time I drive past that pool, I don’t think about the countless wonderful memories, I only think about that failed dive.

This week’s feature, “Somebody I Used to Know” starring Alison Brie (“Mad Men”), doesn’t constitute a failure, but it’s also not a rom-com worth remembering.

Brie portrays Ally, a young businesswoman whose career gets shut down unexpectedly forcing her to return to her hometown to reevaluate her life. In the process, she runs into her ex-boyfriend and his fiancé, which opens up a multitude of wannabe comedic moments.

Brie is definitely a talented actress, and while this film didn’t give her the best material to work with, it did allow her to shine in a starring role. Check this one out of you need a good date-night movie or are simply in the mood for relationship nostalgia.

A semi-authentic “C” for “Somebody I Used to Know,” now available for viewing on Amazon Prime.

Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at moviediary@att.net.

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