The source of the decline of western civilization

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Dino Dave’s Adventures By ‘dinodave’ Fuqua
Thursday, July 30, 2020
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Certain cultures have unique rites of passages to become a man. For instance, the Vanuatu tribe of the South Pacific like to jump headfirst off a wooden tower up to a 100 feet with vines around their ankles onto solid ground. To become a man in the Satere-Mawe tribe of the Brazilian Amazon all you must do is put your hand in a glove full of the excruciating stings of bullet ants for ten minutes without making a noise. To become a man in the African Maasai tribe, you get to go fight a lion after mutilation of your “uume”. Do your own translation.

Well, not to be outdone, our Glendive City pool had their own rite of passage. If one wanted play “Tag” and “Marco Polo” with the cool kids on the deep end, the only way was to first jump off the death defying 15-foot-high dive.

I envision the high dive being built by some engineer who built all the other insurance rate raising playground equipment. Even as a 10-year-old kid, I imagined the conversation. “But boss… um…we are building these monkey bars over solid concrete. Won’t that hurt if they fall?” The boss, who was probably a World War Vet that had seen the evils of the world and knew what to prepare the kids for would reply. “If they fall and break their arm, maybe they won’t fall anymore. Just build it!”

It didn’t stop at monkey bars over concrete either, we also had 10 feet metal slides. It is difficult to explain to the kids these days the joys and talent of sliding down a metal slide on a 100-degree July day in those 1980 short shorts. One false move of skin touching the metal and the slide screeches to a halt and a third degree burn for the week. The teeter-totter was another favorite. NOT! Cody, my childhood friend was twice as big as me. He later became an offensive lineman for the Wyoming Cowboys. Usually having a friend twice as big as me was a huge advantage on the playground, but not with the teeter-totter. It was the price I had to pay. Teeter totters gave me my first physics lesson. Cody would just sit on the ground and laugh as my runt of the litter body held on like Lane Frost on Redrock. Then without me knowing he would thrust off the ground and my tailbone would freefall to the ground then thrust right back into the air as Cody came gently back down. The higher Cody sent me up in the air on the other end, the more he would laugh. Those playground engineers were geniuses all right. Nothing prepared us for life like a playground from the 80s.

I stared at that high dive and back at Cody and the gang. Being the runt of the gang, I always had to pull off the crazy stunts to earn their respect. Just jumping off was not going to do it. As I climbed up the 15 foot ladder, I thought to myself the possibilities. “A Cannonball? No…. that was Cody’s signature move. The splash would never compare. A Jackknife? No… that’s too easy, anyone can do a Jackknife. A Swan Dive? The Running Man?” I had one chance to impress the gang, I didn’t want to blow it.

As I stood shivering up in the wind the best idea popped in my head. I got it! All the eyes were upon me and if I was ever going to play Tag with the cool kids again, they better get something good. I ran off that high dive and jumped as high I could. I then spread both my legs as far apart as if I was Bruce Lee. As soon as Cody saw my form he knew exactly what I was going to do. “No way!” Cody gasped. “He’s doing the Dawson County Nutcracker!” The eyes and mouths of my friends were all agape. I then pointed my toes. The toes had to be pointed. I pointed both hands to the sky and looked straight ahead. I was going for a perfect 10 score. It felt like slow motion. The key was to hold the form until the end. Any movement of my legs would be a chicken out and thus no respect points given.

Suddenly I hit the water with a sound like the paddle from the principal’s office. “Whap!” I knew by the sound and by my pain I had made a perfect 10. My first breath of air was greeted by cheers. I did it! I became a man.

Year after year, that city pool high dive tested many of kids both girls and boys of their bravery preparing them for the real world. It was the ultimate litmus test for success in life. Then around 1991 something happened, and the world changed for the worse and I am not even talking about Nirvana.

Glendive, for some reason took out the high dive! I screamed in horror as I drove by and saw it missing. Fools! You have no idea what you have done! I knew what this would do to society. Suddenly, there were no more adults anymore. Everyone became easily offended, angered and entitled. The beginning of the decline of western civilization happened right here, in Glendive, Montana when they took out the high dive that sad day. That ol’ World War veteran who built those monkey bars over concrete, the Maasai who mutilate their own “uume” and Satere-Mawe who wear bullet ant gloves all knew exactly what they were doing. Sometime, in the not so distant future, an archeologist will dig up our collapsed civilization and ask, “What happened? Where did it all go wrong?” It was the high dive. It was the day Glendive removed the high dive.

Dave Fuqua is a Glendive native. You can find out more about him at dinodaveadventures.com. He can be reached at Makoshikadave@gmail.com.

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