When I Was Fifteen – a Memoir by Jesse Kubanet

  1 Jesse Kubanet | August 12th, 2012 | Featured, London 2012 Olympics, National, News

Last week, I watched, mouth agape, just like the rest of the world, as fifteen-year-old Katie Ledecky absolutely crushed the field of the women’s 800 freestyle, bringing home a gold for the United States.

As impressive as her performance was, it is doubled, no, tripled, no, quadruped by the fact that she did it all as a fifteen-year-old. I’m pretty sure most of the world can agree with me that this is not a feat that should go unnoticed, especially considering what we all did the summer we were fifteen. I know my experience was slightly less impressive than Ledecky’s.

Fifteen is a weird age. You’re so close to freedom, yet still in this limbo of childhood where you know what you want to be out doing, yet your parents have to give you a ride. The summer I turned fifteen was the summer I bought, with my money (which was essentially still my parents money that they had given through allowance, birthdays, etc), an XBOX 360 so I could play Call Of Duty with my friends. Katie spent the summer training for Olympic trials, qualifying for the Olympics, training for the Olympics, and winning gold at those same Olympics.

When I was fifteen, I took Drivers-Ed from Sears Driving School. It took place in a cold dark room in the back of; you guessed it, a Sears. An overly aggressive woman with a strong jaw, who I’m assuming began smoking in utero based on the sound of her voice, would scream at my classmates about how terrible our generation was. She also told several terrifying tales of car accidents and one particularly horrific antic dote about never “holding it in” when you have to pee on a long drive, lest your bladder explode. This could possibly be the explanation as to why I urinated on deck at a swim meet (see my article “Speedo needs to head back to the Aqua Lab” below). Katie spent the summer training for Olympic trials, qualifying for the Olympics, training for the Olympics, and winning gold at those same Olympics.

After completing the in class portion of Sears prestigious Drivers-Ed course (it’s the Harvard of Drivers-Ed, JcPenny’s was my safety school), I began the in car examination process which consisted of seven different driving tests. I passed beautifully, receiving a learners permit that I almost never got to use, as I was nearly killed by the other students in my class, while an instructor named Renaldo cursed loudly at them in a language I did not understand. Katie spent the summer training for Olympic trials, qualifying for the Olympics, training for the Olympics, and winning gold at those same Olympics.

To cap off my summer, I swam in an outdoor swim meet in a Speedo that was so worn out, that my entire butt was visible for the entirety of the race. As my dad so eloquently put it, “You mooned everyone here for like, two minutes, and it was really easy to see, because you’re so pale. I bet you’ll be sunburned tomorrow.” I got fourth. Katie spent the summer training for Olympic trials, qualifying for the Olympics, training for the Olympics, and winning gold at those same Olympics.

So, my summer was slightly different than Katie’s. I’m incredibly proud of her for accomplishing all of her goals and shocking the world. My only advice to her is, be careful in Drivers-Ed (I can probably write you a letter of recommendation for Sears), and always check your swimsuit before races, especially at outdoor pools where sunburn IS a very real possibility.

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  1. Lane Four says:
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    Sooooo good! Great great read!

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