Friday, August 8, 2008
I was a pole vaulter in high school. It's unclear to me, now, why I chose the sport, but I think it had something to do with the whole running with the pole thing. Perhaps I was a jouster in a past life? I remember the feeling of great success when you got the pole to bend and actually help fling you over the bar, because so many high school pole vaulters (at least in South Dakota) were basically just launching themselves over with a straight stick. I started to get a bit cocky, what with my breaking of some school records (which turned out to exist solely because there were so few of us to actually make records), that when met with the challenge of trying to vault up onto the top of the gym's retractable bleachers, I obliged. Bets on my success or failure rolled in from the assembled hormone-rich 17 year olds with one goading onlooker saying that if I landed on my face he'd give me twenty bucks. I gave it my best, but my hand slipped off the pole, giving me a spring-loaded backhand which cut my eyebrow open, and knocked me to the floor in a gathering pool of blood. The bravado days soon took on a different form, and that jerk never gave me my twenty dollars. Amazing how these things inform us decades later, though it's a bit unclear as to exactly how.