Let Skating Boys Lie

skating

Let it be known that I am neither sportsman nor outdoorsman. When it comes to winter pastimes, I have never in my life skied, snow-boarded or snow-shoed, and even after the events shortly following Christmas 2013, I maintain that I have never ice skated.

We had an especially cheery Christmastime. My sister, Jillian, had come home for an entire week from Philadelphia to Rochester, NY, where the rest of us still live. She arrived mere moments after becoming engaged to a fellow named Robert, beloved not only to her but to our entire clan as well.  My other sister Jenn’s daughter Molly (my adorable niece) was experiencing her third Christmas this time around, and we all got to be little kids again watching her tear into wrapping paper and rediscover daily a grotesque elf perched in different odd places around the house.

I had such a high old time from all this family fun and generosity of the human spirit that I must have literally come to regard myself as invincible. So when it was proposed to me by my mother that we all take a family outing to an outdoor ice-rink for the purposes of scraping around on dull metal blades affixed to high-top bowling shoes, I said, “Sure!”

We went downtown to the rink after dinner, Jenn, Jill, Robert, Mom and my step-dad, Glen (I’d just say ‘dad’ here and not ‘step-dad’ because that’s a reductive term for a wonderful man and role model, but I don’t want anyone thinking it’s his fault that I have no sporting acumen. He arrived when I was 20, the damage to my manliness already done). It was bitter cold but the sub-zero automatons gliding around the irregular shaped glob of frozen water seemed impervious to it. In the little glass observation hut they had plenty of skates for me to rent, just none even close to my size. Jill’s rentals fit perfectly. Jenn had her own sweet hockey skates, Glen borrowed some from my brother-in-law, and I was left with a pair of size 12 skates to fit on my size 10 feet. My Mom and Robert shunned the cold and the imminent danger, and contented to watch by fake fire-side.

What followed was not, allow me to emphasize, NOT ice skating, but in the next hour I discovered a few scientific facts: First, when your skates are two sizes too big for your feet, ‘tightening up the laces as much as possible,’ even to the point of causing friction blisters on my fingers, does not aid in the lateral wobbling of my ankles on the ice. Second, even when finally trading in my skates for size 11 after a pair was returned by another skater, refer to the first scientific point and repeat. Third, I’m much better at falling down without injury than I would have thought. I probably owe this to a couple months of karate training when I was in the fifth grade, in which I was taught to fall with a certain kind of floppy grace.

Suffice it to say I wobbled, careened, and stuttered around that rink at least 7 times, falling down, splaying out in compromising positions at least twice each circuit. Any forward motion was earned quite accidentally by me flailing about with all four of my limbs as I merely attempted to stay upright. My sisters passed me and passed me, grimacing when I fell, offering advice but knowing not to reach out lest I drag the three of us down. Other skaters on their way out of the park said to me ‘you’re really brave to keep going, man.’  I said, ‘I know.’  I’m not actually sure what possessed me to keep going. Maybe I thought my skates would magically fix themselves, or perhaps I’d just grow an amazing new balance cortex in my brain? Probably something about the triumph of the human spirit over the perils of nature and blah blah blah. In any case, I would totally do it again.

About Woody Battaglia

Woody Battaglia is a writer and comedian based in his hometown of Rochester, NY, where he also puts on themed variety shows under the banner Not 100% Normal. You can hear more of his work on The Letterheads Podcast, and if he's laughing you can hear him for miles around.

About Woody Battaglia

Woody Battaglia is a writer and comedian based in his hometown of Rochester, NY, where he also puts on themed variety shows under the banner Not 100% Normal. You can hear more of his work on The Letterheads Podcast, and if he's laughing you can hear him for miles around.

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