I had decided, at the ripe old age of 30-plus, to take up ice-skating. Visions of spangled glittering airy-fairy skaters twirled gracefully in my mind. I sighed over the childhood dream and stared longingly at the hordes of happy-go-lucky skaters wheeling about in glory at the Blade runners ice rink. Now it was going to be my turn!
Oh, the humiliation of being surrounded by swarms of kids half my size on the ice! The adult instructor was off for the day and I was grouped with the little ones on my first lesson.
“First, we need to learn how to fall. Bend your knees so that you’re out of balance and ready to fall. Fall without letting your hands come in contact with the rink.” Easier said than done. Ouch, I have an extra 100 pounds or so of body weight adding momentum to my fall. Remember about Action and Reaction- in this case, Ground meets slightly Overweight Body had the most uncomfortable results possible. And, I did use my hands, resulting in a spectacular blue-black bruise on my palm that doubled for henna all week long.
“Stretch your arms out and look ahead, not down”, instructed the instructor. That sounded easy enough. Done.
“Next, march or wobble slowly to the front, keeping your arms out”.
March, wobble- what do they mean? I can’t lift my foot off the ice well enough to march. Let me try the wobble. Well, I think I’m moving forward now. Oh no, I’m sliding too fast! Wham! I hit the ground in a spectacular flurry of limbs- but appear to have landed on the well-cushioned part- not too bad. “ That’s the BEST fall that I’ve seen today!” the instructor tries to cheer me up. Small comfort when I see that most of the swarm of kids have made it to the other side of the rink, while I’m last.
“March one, two, three… Glide”- the next phase starts. I manage the March, but have no luck with the Glide. I seem to be moving forward 2 inches at a time- not a good thing when I have to cover a distance of about 50 feet. I need to speed up if I want to reach the other side before the end of next week. Promptly, slide into Big Fall # 2- this time, I land flat on my back and my head makes contact with the rink. I can see what appears to be Orion’s belt shining in all its glory, but come to the realization that I’m not in the great outdoors when the concerned face of the skating instructor looms over mine. “ We’ll spot you for this last round,” she promises and sets the assistant to gliding gracefully backwards in front of me, to encourage me and help if I show signs of wavering. “March, one, two, three… Slide your hands down to your knees and stop!” I have better luck with this. At last, I’m getting somewhere- or rather learning how to stop sliding! “ You can slide your hands down to your knees if you feel that you’re losing balance and might fall” - Why didn’t they tell me this the first thing before I went through all those nasty falls? At last, something I can do to prevent them. The last 5 minutes of the lesson consisted of my trying to move to the other end of the rink, punctuated by my sliding my hands to the knees every third step or so.
Lesson 2: I moved apprehensively on the ice, sure that I was going to have a repeat of session 1, but I made it to the middle of the ice without mishaps. I grew bolder and tried some 'marching' for about 5 minutes, starting to feel almost in control of the gliding movement so basic to skating. 5 minutes. That was all. The instructor blew her whistle, rounding us up for teaching us some new technique. I turned too sharply and promptly dipped forward, hands stretched out to break my fall, and pressed down on the exact same spot that I had injured earlier. I felt nauseous with pain, teetering on the verge of a blackout, when the instructor rushed to my side. I had to be helped off the ice.
Lesson 3: I chickened out and sent my husband( an already accomplished skater-and-faller-on-ice) to hone his techniques. As for me, I decided that my skates were going to stay in the closet till my pre-schooler was old enough to start using them.