Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Love-Skate Relationship

I went ice skating for the first time in seven years, and I'm pleased to report I have retained my form. Granted, my form consists of lurching around spasmodically like a deranged prehominid with a severe nerve disorder. Still, form is form.

I have done exhaustive soul-searching as to why I am like this (bad at skating, but dangerously beautiful). Sometimes I meditate on it for nearly as long as it takes the Keurig to spit out the next cup of coffee. I've concluded that my skating ineptitude (defined by Merriam-Webster's as a "lack of eptitude") can be put down to a variety of reasons. These are as follows. (You know you want to know.)

First of all, there is the matter of my height. Generally speaking, I stand about five foot five, except for the year I was thirteen, at which time I stood 7'1" and liked a boy who was 4'2". But outside of those golden days I have always maintained my petite stature. Well, the moment I stepped on the ice, that changed. All of a sudden I reverted to a seven-foot behemoth, and my center of gravity, which usually stays in its proper spot like a good girl, shot up around my jawbone. This left all body parts below to flail around comically, no two flailing in the same direction. In fact, I believe that at one point, while my arms and legs were flailing at center rink, my torso was seen getting refreshments at the snack bar.*

A second reason for my ineptitude is: small children. On any given day, there are many of these at the rink, all of whom have already learned to do graceful layback spins and majestic jumps, and all of whom are uppity little snots. You may dismiss this as "sour grapes" if you like, but I assure you I base my dislike of these children on a highly mature and balanced rationale: they suck. Clearly they are out to give me an inferiority complex, or rather, to infuse my pre-existing inferiority complex with steroids until it makes the late Marlon Brando look like Lamb Chop.

The thing is, I could learn to skate too, if I were two feet tall like those children and Regis Philbin. They have nowhere to fall. The ice is right there, located at a nice, safe, comforting distance, right at child- and Regis-level. Whereas giantesses like me are doomed, per the laws of physics, to fall and break and groan and die. As you will no doubt remember if you too once briefly and vaguely studied physics without ever truly giving a shit, a falling body (mine) is governed by evil little forces called "newtons" that are named after the fact that they resemble Wayne Newton. The way it works is, the heavier the falling body in question, the more newtons there are involved in the fall. For instance, if you drop a saltine cracker, there are only about 18 newtons to speak of, whereas if you personally fall, there will be a billion gazillion skintillion little tiny Waynes involved.

So we can also attribute my skating deficiencies to the fact that the ice is too far away. If they ("they" is, or are, the Gods of the Ice)** would just move it closer to my center of gravity, we'd be in business. While I'm at it, I also move that the ice be transformed into a softer substance. Tapioca comes to mind.

Finally, I attribute my failings to delusions of grandeur. When I was little, I followed the sport of figure skating (I still do, with the kind of ferocity normally associated with a hyena at lunchtime) and I somehow believed that whatever I saw top-flight skaters do on TV, I could do too. This is of course true, assuming that we are talking about when they wipe their noses. But I truly believed I was headed for the Olympics by age 8, although I guess I would have been willing to settle for age 12.

I'll tell you something else that does nothing to extinguish these delusions. When you are at a public skating session and they play some sort of high octane, bumpa-bumping song sung by someone like Beyoncé - well, this is dangerous stuff for those of us as tend toward being demented. We immediately believe, on some wack-a-doodle level, that we are performing a frisky and rip-roaring exhibition number - no matter how pitiful and flea-bitten the level of our actual skating.

Thus we can see what a sorry state of affairs we are up against, and that's without even considering world hunger or poverty.*** Fortunately, I have a few brilliant suggestions for how to salvage the situation. Don't thank me.

1. We mandate universal enrollment in a harsh, rigorous, "tough-love" Learn-to-Skate program, wherein if you do well, you get a shiny new toy; and if you do badly, Nancy Kerrigan will bite you. This should separate the "men" from the "boys."****

2. Alternatively, you could enlist actual prehominids to skate around you, so as to level the playing field. These individuals can be found at your local GameStop establishment.

3. Or you could just learn to be confident in your own skin.

4. Hahahahaha, I didn't think I could get through that one with a straight face.

Oh, but take heart, my fellow clumsy ox.  For no matter how non-existent, how pathetic, how jaw-droppingly miserable your skating skills, if you continue your efforts with sheer, dogged persistence - never for one moment allowing your mind or body to stray from your cherished goal - then there can be no doubt that one magical day, in one shining moment, you will get royally pissed off and quit.

That's fine. There's no shame in quitting. All I can say is, some of us are quitters and some are fighters. I myself pledge to "keep on trucking" until the bitter end. I plan to do this via the strict regimen I have been following all along: namely, going skating only once every seven years. At this rate, I am sure to be ready for the Olympics at age 864. Age 868 at the latest.

* Of course it was flailing too. What did you think?
** Queen Frostine, from the Candy Land board game; and Phil, who drives the Zamboni.
*** Because, let's face it, when was the last time anybody followed these sports at the Olympics?
**** Or at least from their "fingers."

1 comment:

The Old Wolf said...

At 21, we are no longer ert, having lost our ertia. After that age, physics continues to wage war against us until gravity increases to the point where we are sucked six feet below ground.