Live Science reports that researchers have determined that being around a pretty woman can make men take more risks. The study involved 96 men risking face-plants while performing skateboard tricks both with and without attractive women watching. I could have saved them a lot of time and money.
Back when I was in high school, I was vacationing with my family as we did every summer at a rented lakeside cottage. There were a whole group of rental cottages there, and the new owners of the colony had a particularly attractive teen daughter. One afternoon, while a group of us, including her, were looking for something to do, her older brother hatched a plan. He had a boat and knew of a cool place. We all bounded for the dock, because when you’re sixteen, that pretty much constitutes a plan.
He took us to the river that fed the lake, and then upstream to a dam. We docked and followed him up an escalating wooded trail leading behind the dam. After a fashion, we came out on a rocky ledge overlooking the still river below. It was at least a good 50 feet down to the water. It was quite a view. Or at least that was what we were all thinking when her brother ran for the edge and leapt into the abyss. Seconds later there was a loud splash and lots of joyful screaming to join him.
None of the rest of us had been here before. We didn’t know the river. We didn’t know this guy from Adam. Was it safe to take this plunge?
We were looking furtively back and forth at one another about the time when bikini-clad cute girl who’s name I don’t recall sidle’s up to me, leans in and says, “Aren’t you going to jump?”
At that point my feet went on automatic pilot and launched my testosterone laden self off the edge. It was only some long time-dilated seconds later as her smile and supple breasts faded from view that my rational brain kicked in and began to contemplate the possible existence of rocks under the calm surface, or shallow spots I would jam my legs on. But I was rather committed at that point. Besides, at that age, this seemed a reasonable way to die, with her sweet words still in my ears.
I hit the water straight and clean, and flared to keep the plunge as shallow as possible. I popped back to the surface with a mile wide grin on my face because girl be damned, that was just frickin’ cool.
I glanced upstream to catch a glimpse of the first jumper who was swimming the couple of hundred yards to where the steep rock walls gave way and you could actually exit the water. It occurred to me that how to get out was yet one more thing unconsidered beforehand. But as a lifeguard and competitive distance swimmer, the pending swim was not really an obstacle.
As I was treading water I heard a “Geronimo” call from above as this comely spawn of Homer’s Siren cooed another guy off the cliff. I backed up a bit to be sure this guy didn’t land on my head. He hit the water somewhat ungracefully with a loud smack and disappeared below the surface. Shortly thereafter he came sputtering up and was thrashing in the water. Instinctively, I dropped into lifeguard mode. He was pretty calm, so I grabbed him and supported him in the water and asked, “Are you hurt?”
“No,” he says. “But I don’t really know how to swim.”
The insanity of this rattled about in my brain as I glanced back to where bikini-girl’s brother was clamoring up the rocks in the distance. At that moment I knew two things for certain. First, this other guy was way braver or way stupider than I could ever be. Second, pretty girls are dangerous.