School is done for the term, so I have a blissful couple of weeks where, instead of juggling homework + Japanese studying + work, I just have to worry about work.
My last final – and it was quite a bear, I managed to get the top score in the class with a whopping 83% – was in Statistics, a class where the teacher started out the term by splitting the entire class into four-person groups. All term long, we’ve been doing assignments and taking tests as a group, so we got to know each other better than normal.
With the end of the class approaching and our little group about to be cast to the winds, obviously we needed to celebrate the act of surviving the term. This is when one of our members piped up with a “let’s all go ice skating!”
I’ve only been ice skating once before, back in high school, and I fell down, I remember, seventeen times before giving it up. There was a little girl on the ice rink who seemed the embodiment of the devil – I would climb to my feet after a fall, push off, get a little ways further along the ice rink, and this little demon would zip by out of nowhere and do a spin or something in my peripheral vision, and I would fall down again. Not that I am bitter.
Nonetheless, it was so far removed from the standard suggestion one gets in college, which is to say, “Let’s all go drinking!”, that I felt I ought to agree solely on principle.
So. Final done, it comes the night of the Great Skating Experiment, I get to the ice rink and discover that two of our four have decided to blow off the whole ice skating thing for, admittedly, fairly decent reasons. The remaining member is the woman who suggested the excursion and who, I come to find out, used to ice skate, three times a week, for fourteen years.
I am quietly glad. It means that there will be fewer witnesses.
My classmate shepherds me around the rink once. It ain’t pretty, but I don’t fall down, even when she gets all “Cutting Edge” on me.
And by Cutting Edge, I do not mean that we started off with mutual hatred that translated into Olympics-winning skill, I mean that she took to saying “Toepick!” with a particularly twisted glee. Oh, and “Bend your knees!”… often.
Having done the initial shepherding, she apologizes but she really has to go for a bit at her own pace, so I am left bereft of partner. No problem. I did this once, right, how bad can…
In the next circuit, I fall down four times. I do not fall gracefully. I go from roughly vertical to flat on my arse with all the skill and grace of a bag of flour.
The worst part is not the pain.
The worst part is the kid standing over me. He’s, I’m going to guess, maybe 12 years old. He’s like four feet tall. He’s wearing a Lnyryd Skynyrd T-shirt, which reminds me rather vividly of the days when I was 12 but which seems out of place on a modern 12-year old.
And he’s saying things like “Are you OK, MISTER? That was a pretty hard fall, MISTER. Do you need help up?”
Somehow I managed to drag my ancient and hoary self to a bench. I adjust my skates, which is to say, I tighten them. A lot. This is the sum of my advice to you, should you ever find yourself in the situation where you are ice skating: Your skates are never tight enough. I was not adequately warned of this basic axiom, so I pass it along in the hopes that it will save someone else a “are you OK, MISTER?” situation.
After that, I managed not to fall down again for the rest of the night. I’m not going to say I was ever far from the comforting embrace of the wall, but I got to the point where I was actually enjoying myself and it felt like I was getting a heck of a good workout in the process.
Today, I have a glorious assortment of bruises – I will not subject you to pictures – and I am sore in muscles that I am SURE should not have been being used by skating. I am, however, getting mostly sympathy at home, and only a little bit of the “you know, you’re not a kid anymore” speech that I so richly deserve, and I mention this as an example of what a wonderful wife I have.
I think I’ll give it another try sometime, though. That is, once this set of bruises fades.