About twenty-five years or more ago my mother used to take us to the local ice skating rink as a “treat”. It must have been pretty cheap back then because we had to endure it practically on a weekly basis. When we went during the summer months the frosty weather inside forced us to cover our sun-kissed legs and arms that we had spent way too much time cultivating not to show off. Mittens, that we probably had to order from a much more northern state, always felt unnatural. As uncommon, for a fifteen year old back in those days, as wearing acrylic fingernails.
The discomfort didn’t stop there. It was humiliating to spend the first sixty or so minutes, each and every time that I went, re-learning the skills I had mastered after the last four-hour long endurance test. It’s incomprehensible to me, even today, why you have to hold onto the side rail for the first few laps every time. Then, just as you are ready to venture a foot away from the rails, some darn bell rings and your forced to leave the ice rink so that some huge mobile device can make a few snail-speed trails to make the ice slippery-er! Then, much to your embarrassment, as now your friends have arrived, you have to start all over clutching the walls again.
By the time the skating was over, and the last song (Known only to those over forty) is played, you’ve come to realize that the only time you got to venture toward the center of the rink was when that final alarm bell of the session had sounded. Of course, there was that time my sister Charlotte fell in the center and someone skated over her hand. That was pretty freaky. A paramedic/bouncer skated over, sprayed her hand with some kind of freezing chemical and sent her back up on the ice. The one time I fell, that I remember now, shocked me so much that I refused to get up until one of those cute teenage boys helped me to my feet. Of course that was after I had pulled him down for awhile to my level.
Fast forward a few dozen years and my little cherub, not unlike my editor’s son Luc, wants to ice skate. (Of course Luc’s dad had inundated the child with ice hockey since he was a fetus. I, on the other hand, avoid all sports outside of a gym like the plague preferring the controlled environment of an aerobic room.)
The lessons advertised in the last Parks and Recreation flier seemed reasonably priced but, as my friend Dr. Kim suggested, it was best to take Samantha there for a trial run first. But that would mean I would have to join her, facing all of my teenage demons, with no help from my self-espousing “weak-ankled” spouse.
Forcing myself to put on two layers of shirts, a scarf, gloves, sturdy jeans, thick socks and a firm chin, while preparing my child in the same bumbled and bundled manner, we set out on a what of course became a very warm day, to the Ice Station in Valencia.
Samantha attacked the ice with bravado normally reserved for talking back to her first grade teacher! Of course she did hold onto the rail the first time around but not the second. She was comfortable holding my hand even when I refused to land in a heap next to her the three-gazillion times that she fell. When the alarm bell rang for the ice to be wetted or whatever they call it nowadays she stood in rapture, wobbling ankles and all, waiting to get back out there. I warned her to rest, that her legs will get too tired but she pretended that she couldn’t hear me over the sounds of that huge ice-bulldozer.
Two hours later, when she blamed me for that last hard fall, she agreed it was time to leave. Of course, even though I coaxed her out of there with the promise of a frozen yogurt it didn’t stop her, once she removed the fourteen-pound ice skates, to tour the rest of the “Station”. She easily could have spent the whole day there watching the hockey players and the kids in the arcade. I agreed, lessons would be great.
While I was filling out the form a day or so later I had to admit that the soreness I felt in the outer part of what Eddie refers to as my “hamhock” thighs was different than the muscle strain I was accustomed to from my spin classes. Was I ready for a new challenge? It would still be indoors I told myself. I did want to “cross train” like the personal trainers suggest. Should I skate with Samantha before and after her lessons? We had to trek all the way across town for the rink and, after a little time management figuring, I had to miss an afternoon at my gym anyway just to get her over there.
Problem is I didn’t see too many people my age skating along to ten-year-old U2 music. I was kind of hoping this column could force a few readers out of their homes for the open skating on Fridays, say 1:30 to 4:30? I admit that I’ll still be hanging onto the rails the first hour that I get there so you won’t be alone. Of course, if I don’t have to take a break for that bulldozer or get to hear something from the last decade in the music I might do a little better. Then again, I might fall a few times to catch the beat. Who in the heck is going to be able to get me up and off the ice now?