Lying on my stomach, eyes closed, smooth concrete
hot against my chest and thighs, wet towel thrown over
my head and sunburned back, muffled voices, laughter,
Constant thumping, the bouncing of the Duraflex diving
board, the pale-blue, rough, sandpaper surface hurls another
kid smoothly into the air.
Ker floush! comes the report of another successful cannonball, water droplets hitting the towel and my legs.
The next diver in the queue mounts the board, takes three steps and bounce.
One of summer’s small stages.
Only seconds to make it work.
Can you catch the eye of that special girl?
Execute a one-and-a-half before she loses interest, was it good
enough to impress?
Look for the look. Hope you get your chance.
Lifeguard’s whistle slows a runner on the deck, wet feet slapping
past me on the concrete as a kid returns from the concession stand.
Round-shaped grandmas in skirted swimsuits adjust sunshades
over new babies, while the new moms adjust new swimsuits over
their new bodies.
Hawaiian Tropic lotion, too-fruity gum, Marlboros and chlorine.
The smells of summer.
The radios are all tuned to the new rock station that’s broadcasting
in “FM.” Frequency Modulation, means the tunes come in clear and stay that way.
FM DJ so casual and cool. Voice made smooth by years ofLuckies
and Jack. No static at all.
It’s a quarter till, a 10-minute break in 5.
Last turn on the diving board, fulcrum set all the wayback, maximum lift, four steps and then big air.
Alone in the moment.
Chest flat on thighs, tight, toes pointed, two-and-a-half turns, open and enter.
Straight, no splash, only the sound of the water rushing past my ears.
Act like you are thinking about something. Anything. Except what
you think they think of you.
Lying flat on the bottom, 12 feet down.
Lying flat just to do it, plenty of breath.
Legs push up, and one hard stroke to break the surface at the wall and out.
Was it good enough to impress?
Towel around shoulders, tugging on cutoff shorts over a wet speedo, wedging wet feet into hot Converse.
Walk out with the dripping throng.
Act like you are thinking about something. Anything.Except what
you think they think of you.
Almost to the gate.
Jet black hair.
Fair skin, spray of freckles on her checks, a smile that could melt an iceberg.
Passing, holding eyes for a moment, then quickly looking down.
“Going to the ‘Y’ later?”
“I am now.”
Shortness of breath. Leave fast before you mess it up.
Black vinyl seats so hot you have to sit on the towel, steering wheel
and shifter too hot to touch.
Open windows and vents to try to cool it down.
Hit the key. Big-block, eight-cylinder, loping rhythm of the camshaft and the beautiful, throaty rumble of the exhaust.
Cherry bombs, red glass pack mufflers that sound like freedom.
Moving down the street, chirping second and third.
Speed moving hot air over hot skin, the smell of gasoline and chlorine in my nose.
Couple dollars left on my dresser, two milkshakes, maybe malts.
Downshift. Hear the high pitch of the engine, tach jumps and then
Red light, car sways in the engine’s rhythm, no brake needed, hold in place with clutch and gas.
I love this ’Bird.
Station wagon in front of me, wood-paneled, huge back-gate door, window down, two boys fresh from the pool and goofing.
They see me see them. One boy goes with the Asian eyes, tongue out; the other with thumbs in ears, four fingers out and wagging.
I counter with engine rev and roll forward. With middle finger, I slowly push up my sunglasses.
They laugh like hyenas, fall back out of sight.
Mom looks in rearview mirror like, “Good heavens, what now?”
Light turns green, ease clutch out, slowly begin to move.
Two glowing white butts rise up from below the back gate.
Double moon. Well played.
Station wagon pulls away, all of us laughing.
I miss second, loudly, boys hoot and shout, “Grind me a pound!”
They will retell that story. A lot.
Good times that bind.
Left turn, find my gear and head up the hill.
August heat shimmering in waves off the asphalt.
That small space between her front teeth.