If I could go back in time, I’d leave this letter for my 12-year-old self to find:

August 19, 1988

Dear Michelle,

I know you’ve been enjoying your summer vacation, especially now that your mom allows you to go to the pool with one of your best friends for a few hours without supervision. I know you’ve also been paying close attention to the lifeguard who watches the diving section of the pool. Yes, he’s very cute in that “feathered-blond-80’s-hair” kind of way. I hope you realize he’s about ten years older that you are and only pays attention to you because it’s his job.

This weekend, you’re going to have the brilliant idea of diving off the high platform when it’s his turn for guard duty. I strongly suggest that you reconsider. Your friend Lynne is going to point out the fact that you can barely control a dive off the side of the pool, and that perhaps you should just jump feet-first from 10 meters above the water. YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO HER.

If, however, you decide to move forward with your plan, you will find yourself rocketing toward the water in a horizontal fashion because that “vertical dive” will turn into a belly-flop almost as soon as your feet leave the platform. You’ll flail about in order to change your position mid-air, but that only works for Wile E. Coyote. You’ll do a perfect face-plant into the water below.

The lifeguard with the feathered blonde hair will most definitely notice you, but that’s only because your braces managed to split your lip upon impact and there’s a steadily growing field of blood around your face as you tread water with as much dignity as you can muster. Which, frankly, isn’t very much. All conversations and pool activities will cease as every head turns to watch you haul yourself over the side of the pool as you mutter “Really, I’m FINE” through your very swollen face.

Don’t worry: someday the braces will come off and you’ll have learned early on that doing stupid things to impress boys isn’t much fun. You’ll also realize that men who spend time styling their hair with gel and hairspray are not worth impressing in the first place.

Love,
Michelle

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