In pursuit of the ever-elusive Winter Sports badge, I went ice skating today at the imposingly named Valencia Ice Station with my high school bestie / ice princess extraordinaire Christy and her adorable 5-year-old Oliver.
Would you like to know my favorite part of ice skating today?
When we stopped ice skating.
An ice rink is a place of pure, unfiltered terror. First of all, there’s the ice. Ice is not just cold, but also slippery, and if I was walking on a sidewalk that was half-covered in ice and half-not-covered in ice, I would clearly choose the iceless half. This is just logic, people. Survival of the fittest. Why voluntarily place myself on this deadly surface when there are so many other way more pleasant surfaces in the world? Grass? Dirt? Sidewalk? Carpet? Logic.
While we’re talking logic, let’s talk about skates. Do you see those up there? Those are fancy skates that Christy had custom made in 1990-whenever and right after she proudly displayed the bloodstain splotched on the inside of one, she then instructed me to squeeze the leather to see how well it held up over the years, and I felt like I was squeezing two plates of solid titanium steel. Oh, yeah…THEY ALSO HAVE VERY SHARP BLADES ON THE BOTTOM.
Since I haven’t laid eyes on a Zamboni since the last millenium, I forgot just how dark my thoughts become when I’m locked inside a pair of ice skates. Examples:
“Oh my god, what if I fall and one of my skates catches my leg and slices through my Achilles tendon, rendering me unable to walk?!”
“Oh my god, what if I fall and take out a small child with one swipe of my shiny blue death-skate?!”
“Oh my god, what if I fall and one of these eleventy-million flailing adolescents cannot stop in time and runs right into me, severing my femoral artery with their skate, causing me to bleed out like a slab of frozen roadkill?!”
You see where I’m going with this?
You also see what poor Christy was up against when tasked with “teaching” me how to skate, especially since I asked her about twenty times, “You seriously think this is fun?!” In the plus column, I managed to stay upright the entire time (“upright” is defined loosely here), I circled the rink several times under my own power (mostly because Christy was too busy holding her 5-year-old’s hand to hold mine), I did not bleed nor cause anyone else to bleed (although the tender inside of my left foot is reddish and angry), I skated backwards (for approximately one inch), I made a lot of small circles (because I had to avoid hitting other people and didn’t know how to stop my skates), and I managed to balance on one skate while going in a somewhat forward motion (for 1 second). At one point, I even said to Christy, “I guess that part right there was almost fun, but like the tiniest, most minuscule amount that could actually qualify as ‘fun.'”
Here’s a picture of me barely tolerating the skating rink:
I am only smiling because we are not on the ice at that specific moment.
Despite the massive accomplishments listed above, there’s no way in hell I “showed proficiency” in ice skating (per badge requirement #1), so let’s just move on to the part where I tell you how to take care of your skates and stuff, even though its probably best if you just avoid this whole mess altogether.
#8. Skating: know how to care for your skates. Explain the rules regarding ice safety and ice rescue. (At least I accomplished something today.)
Since Christy has owned the same pair of ice skates since high school, I’ll let her demonstrate how to care for them:
That’s right, just take an old sock and wipe off the blades when you’re done so they don’t rust. I guess it could be a new sock, too – really, just use the fabric of your choice. You could get some blade protectors, too, so you don’t inadvertently slice off your finger while removing your death machines from whatever storage container you’re using, but again, you can avoid all bloodshed by avoiding ice skating. Easy peasy.
Finally, let’s review ice safety and ice rescue. As you’re well familiar by now, my theory is that if you abstain from ice skating altogether, that is the safest course of action; you will never fall through thin ice on a frosty pond if you’re not on that damn ice to begin with. Nevertheless, Christy told me a lovely story about how her younger brother fell through the ice while skating and that she thought about going out to help him, but realized that she, too, might fall through the ice, so she ran to summon help. While she was gone, he managed to wiggle his way back on the ice like an Arctic seal, and they presumably took the poor kid home for some hot chocolate and dry clothes. When I asked her, “So, what is the best means of ice rescue?” she replied, “Call for help,” which is good enough for me. However, I assume that’s probably not good enough for you, so the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources offers a nice review of horrifying things like “surviving immersion,” with a stern reminder that “There is no such thing as 100 percent safe ice.” THAT’S WHAT I’M SAYING.