“As a kid in Canada, skates must just grow on your feet and off you go!” A young grandma said this to us yesterday as she watched Violet struggle to stand up in a pair of ice skates, flanked by me and Richard, her Canadian parents who, apparently, should be expert skaters.
“You would think so,” I said back, with a quick follow up: ”We’re going to go shame our country now.”
The lady laughed and poo-poohed the sentiment, probably thinking that I was being modest and that we would get out there and dazzle the crowds with our Canuck-inspired ice stylings. Needless to say this is not what happened. But we waddled out there and did our best!
There were factors against us. First, it was over 60 degrees outside so the ice was melting fast, even with the rigorous schedule of ice conditioning for the day (one hour of skating, half an hour of conditioning!) Then there was the fact that neither Richard nor I can really skate. Somehow decades of hanging out in dark clubs drinking and playing rock and roll didn’t translate into sportsmanship. Even in Canada!
Then there was the men’s skates issue. We were both shocked to see a pick on the end of Richard’s skates. We stared at it like you would a piece of pooh that has squished into the cleats of your sneakers. Not cool! What self-respecting Canadian man wears skates like this? I wondered aloud whether these were perhaps men’s figure skates? Did men’s figure skates have picks? Richard gave me another pooh-squishing look. How the fuck should he know?
But probably the biggest stumbling block was holding up a three-year old doing a never-ending impression of Fred Flintstone running in place.
As you can see, the cuteness made it totally worth it. Less visible here is the agony Richard’s back is in trying to keep himself steady without letting go of the girl. I tried it afterward and kept running into her skates with mine – pretty much a total disaster.
But we Canadians are nothing if not persistent, so we managed to get around the rink a few times and actually even have some fun! Violet wasn’t complaining, but she seemed quite confused as to what the object of the ‘game’ was. I tried to get her to just stand and bend her knees at one point, thinking that her balance would kick in, but it was too disorienting. Even holding onto the boards with both hands, she couldn’t quite get it.
Meanwhile Richard kept accidentally digging the pick into the soft ice and tripping. And the water level was rising as the sun began to really take hold around 1pm. So it wasn’t so easy to just let Violet fall to gain experience. She’d be completely soaked in five minutes. People really shouldn’t be trying to skate outdoors in Southern California.
For the final punchline, when I went to return the skates I noticed a separate area for hockey skates. Damn! Next time – maybe when Nani and Rod come for Christmas – perhaps with two more Canadians we can make it work.