Saturday, December 26, 2015

the last book I ever read (Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan, excerpt five)

from Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan:

I did go out for the track team, strangely, in the tenth grade, competing as a pole vaulter. Vaulters formed a little team within the team. The coaches knew little about vaulting, and were not about to risk their necks trying to demonstrate good technique. So we basically taught ourselves. We were excused from the grueling fitness drills the rest of the team performed, and our practices, we were often told, bore an unfortunate resemblance to long, lazy bull sessions. It was something about the vast amounts of lounging we did on the big foam-filled turquoise cushions that served as pits. Vaulting was a glory sport in those days, and vaulters were considered prima donnas. In fact, the flashy, antiauthoritarian vaulters were suspiciously regarded, often with reason, by the coaches and their more loyal athletes as Thoreau-reading, dope-smoking, John Carlos-loving hippies. I loved vaulting—the smooth upward snap and twist when you got the pole-plant right (not the rule with me), the never-long-enough moment when you threw back your arms, flicking the pole back the way you came, at the apex of the vault. But I did not go out for track again the next year.

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