Tahoe Pine Nuts: The water clown and the homecoming queen
Special to the Sun
A friend recently asked me as we waded out of Lake Tahoe, “How on earth did you ever make the swim team at the University of Oregon when you are such a gulper?”
“I learned how to dive.”
Truth be known, I wasn’t any better at diving than I was at swimming, but at least I didn’t drown, and besides, diving was more fun.
I remember having trouble learning a new dive and hearing cascades of laughter as I landed in positions that a yoga master could not contrive, sometimes on my back, sometimes on my stomach, sometimes on my face.
I actually started attracting small crowds at four o’clock each afternoon during practice. It was embarrassing, really, especially when a certain Kappa Gamma that I had a crush on showed up, and I overheard her say, “You’ve got to see this nut.”
Not one to disappoint, I tried out a new version of a new dive, which resulted in a never before seen “splashdown.” As I climbed out of the pool, reeling from water up my nose, I heard the music of her laughter. What I really desired was not her laughter, but her affections.
Well, shoot, if I was going to draw a crowd at four o’clock each afternoon and she was going to be there, I was going to make her smile. So when the pool opened early the next morning and no one was around but the lifeguard, I pulled a cigarette from my duffle bag, cut it in half with a pair of scissors, and lit up.
Then, puffing like Thomas the Train, I climbed the ladder of the three meter board, walked to the end, and turned my back to the water. The lifeguard, busy cleaning the pool, took no interest in me.
Like a statue of Mark Twain, I fell backward in a dead man’s drop toward the water with that cigarette burning between my lips, then, with a flip of the tongue, I tucked that cigarette safely into my mouth.
The lifeguard glanced up as I climbed out of the pool and took a puff on that still burning cigarette. Her eyes stood out and she asked, “Am I seeing what I think I’m seeing?”
At four o’clock that afternoon, with the budding love of my life in the house, I repeated that feat with high hopes of winning her heart, whereupon I would ask her to the homecoming game.
Sure enough, she showed up at four o’clock along with a dozen or so others, and I lit up, did my dead man’s drop, climbed out of the pool, shot her my best James Dean look, and took a slow drag on my still burning cigarette.
Then the unexpected happened. I sucked a hot ash into my lungs and dropped like a stone to the deck in a coughing attack, which not only ruined the mood, but almost closed me out in the bargain.
Well, my girlfriend went to that homecoming game with a cheerleader and I went to that homecoming game alone. I remember Mel Renfro ran back the opening kickoff for a touchdown.
She would go on to be homecoming queen the next year, and I, well, I would go on to be a clown diver in a water show, to faithfully land on my stomach or my back, or sometimes my face.
I never did get the girl, but in the attempt, I did get to hear her beautiful, melodic, lyrical laugh, and that was enough.
Learn more about McAboy Layne at http://www.ghostoftwain.com.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Lake Tahoe, Truckee, and beyond make the Sierra Sun's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
‘Before I could ever read a book, I could tell a story:’ Truckee author Jill Shalvis releases newest novel ‘Love for Beginners’
Fumbling through a folder filled with scraps from a notebook, magazine articles, and other random bits of paper, Truckee author Jill Shalvis finds a folded napkin from a local restaurant.