Slip. Fall. Get-Up. Repeat.
"Pretend that you're trying to open a door, and that you can only use your big toe."
"Um. Okay. But where's the door?"
Our skating instructor sprawled out on her back on the ice, stretched her legs at a ninety degree angle above her torso, slightly waving them in the air, "Right here."
Oh, of course. Silly me.
Welcome to our Learn to Skate experience.
I should already know how to ice skate. Like at a semi-pro level. As previously noted, I grew up in Burrillville, the mecca of Rhode Island Boys High School skating. The rich sports heritage of the Burrillville Broncos included multiple state and New England hockey championship titles.
We even boasted our very own, drum roll please, indoor rink.
This grand structure, that doubled as an outstandingly low charismatic spot to host my high school graduation, also made it incredibly convenient to add a skating segment to gym class. My cousin reminded me recently that you had to have your own skates to participate. I did. David did not. So he spent the period transcribing articles from Sports Illustrated, while I pushed an orange traffic cone around the ice for balance.
Why did I have my own skates? Because of my mother of course. She loved to skate, taking my brother and I to a nearby frozen reservoir in an attempt to share her passion. There were other valiant tries as well: Family skating atop the swamp at the end of our driveway. A backyard rink constructed by my dad. Yet, even amongst the hours of cold weather bonding, I don't remember any formal instruction.
Not that it would have helped. I'm think that my natural inclination was one of rebellion. I remember writing a piece for my Writing 101 college course that said I grew up in a town more concerned with hockey scores than SAT scores. I stand by that statement. My only regret? That I had been more open to the calorie burning benefits of the sport.
And so, my love for food has gotten me back on the ice. This time in downtown Providence. And for support, mental, not physical, I've enlisted my husband Andre. We thought we'd get some exercise, and have a hobby in order to pass the winter months constructively, instead of whining inside about how dark and dreary it is, while parked on our couch.
Our objective was simple: learn how to skate forwards. Apparently, unbeknownst to us, we had signed up for the US Figure Skating Program. And during the past four weeks, we have poorly attempted moves, many of which will not, and should not be duplicated. Especially that something something Andre demonstrated a couple of lessons back with a bit of chest puffing, outstretched arms and a channeling of his inner Johnny Weir.
Each week, the torture, ah, teaching continues, not with our instructor inspecting the gross shortcomings of our group and working with us to improve them, but by whipping out her dogeared copy of the US Figure Skating booklet, and running through exercises which have gotten increasingly more embarrassing.
Because truth is, no one in the class has any sort of skill. Nor the ability to stop. I've polled them all. Yet regardless, for some strange reason, each week, our audience in the bleachers seems to grow larger. Granted many of them seem homeless or have wandered over from the Occupy Providence encampment, but there must be a reason.
And I can't believe that they just showed up for a giggle. After all, there's nothing funny here. Well, not that funny. And certainly not funny enough to submit an entry to America's Funniest Home Video, which by the way, I'd have to sign a release for.
Instead, I'd like to believe the interest comes from the fact that we're providing a bit of inspiration to the masses, by offering up concrete proof that no matter what your age, you should not stop learning. Or getting up when you fall. In fact, that's something that we could teach our instructor. But to do that, she'd have to stop focusing on what we can't do. Instead of what we have already.