Skates!

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A long time ago in a boyhood far, far away my parents taught me to skate. The scene would have looked a bit like the one above, only somewhat less idyllic. We got together with a friend of my mother’s (the Fishman’s) and in that classic arms forward stance (to keep your weight on your toes), I’m sure I stumbled all over the ice. Maybe one of the advantages of learning to skate on a lake rather than a rink, is it eliminates that awful starters parade of kids hanging onto the sideboards for dear life, shuffling slowly around the perimeter of the rink. There was no choice out there… if you wanted to move you had to figure out the skating thing. The skates were no doubt a Chanuka gift from my parents, and must have been just good enough. And while I have no specific recollection, I’m sure the swoopy, flying, gliding effect—that effortless forward motion caught me. From my current vantage point, it is easy to see why biking caught and stuck as well.

Jump forward a few years to a family friend (Stacie!) who had studied figure skating. Since I enjoyed skating, a party was planned that included going skating some Saturday night. As is common, halfway through the session the ice is cleared and the infamous Zamboni reset the ice. All slick, smooth, and wet. This being the 70’s I’m dressed head to toe in light blue (just don’t, OK?). Just after the ice is reopened it’s “couples” time. Stacie grabs my hand and says “Let’s go!” and before I could say a thing, I’m out on the ice being pulled along by the hand. I knew it was a mistake, but I was afraid to start skating, and I couldn’t shake her loose. As our crowd of friends sees the two of us out there an “oooh” rises as a collective commentary on our holding hands, skating “together” (as if) and general tween teasing. Sure enough seconds later one of my blades catches on something, and I’ve now mopped up a nice swath of ice with the aforementioned light blue clothing that turned an instant navy blue… no hiding that error, either in that few of us were on the ice, or the darkened clinginess of my soaked clothing for quite some time after that. You’d think that would of have been it for me and skating… but the gliding speed always pulls me back.

In high school there was a small park and rink down the block. Skating sessions were one of the few nighttime activities that fit into the schedule, and where we could get permission to go. Combine that with the on again off again nature of the small ponds freezing and we had a winter’s delight. A touch of freedom from oversight, a touch of freedom from gravity, and the odd whack at a puck with a stick… kinda playin’ pick up hockey on the little ponds behind the rink. I can clearly remember hearing the booming cracks one January morning during the thaw.

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After high school skating sessions became far and few between. I was busy learning to be a musician and going to school. And while there might have been the occasional Saturday night skating deal, it certainly had no regularity. Kind of like my skiing “career”, it all kinda went and died out with the focus on music and the lack of funds that went with that. But then… some friends were working at a bike shop and the winter keep busy deal there was hockey gear, skates, sharpening and the like. That winter they started playing pickup hockey over at Playland and before you know it they dragged me out, although I wasn’t in a hockey mood. It was quite a show though. Sadly, I learned that my skates no longer fit me (they *really* hurt that last time…) so I stuffed them away, and the next time my sister asked I gave her my skates (she asked for one of her growing kids). I’m sure they’re stored there somewhere (and worn on occasion I’d guess).

Since Noah been old enough we’ve tried to have him try all sorts of sports. He’s been swimming, karate classes, obviously has been around bikes, trikes, etc., and now ice skating. And he really wants me out on the ice. And, of course, it appeals to me as well… so I went and found me some skates. Skates have changed quite a bit with lots of new tech, and even some changes in how people seem to approach wearing skates (thin socks now, not so much back then). Skates are often made of moldable material and are “baked” (200 degrees F for 4 minutes in my case) to soften them so that they mold themselves to your foot. And they are of course, lighter as you go up in price (and man can you get stratospheric if you care to). now I’m looking forward to playing with him on the ice. His teacher suggested a couple more weeks, which is cool, because it gives me a chance to get to a rink and glide off some cobwebs before that moment. One of the cool things about his teacher is that she was one of Lisa’s babysitters and taught her how to skate as well. My chore will be getting her back out there. It would be nice to turn this into a family thing. Makes it far more fun…

A designer I’ve worked with in a couple of places plays hockey in a league. I wrote him note to see whether we can get together for some some getting started again tips, and help me clean up my technique a bit before I case harden some new bad habits. It would be fun just to hang with him… but skating would be really great.

Updates, as I get back to it… I wonder if Chris still skates?

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