photo by ellen reitman.

Friday, December 27, 2013

new skates.

new skates.

one pair of skates jumped right off the shelf at me. i was totally captivated by a fastening mechanism that i'd never seen before. a knob was attached to a series of wires throughout the skate and all one had to do was turn it, just turn the knob. that's it, that's all and it sealed the deal. i could by-pass the whole torturous, finger-searing lace-up system. i grabbed the box and headed for the check-out line.

two days later, perhaps two days before christmas, i headed into the village to test out my new and improved skates. i parked at the community centre and happily put them on, turned the knobs as far as i could to make sure the skates would be nice and secure. the whole procedure took me hardly a few minutes. it was wonderful. then i made my way to the rink.

there was only one person skating there, a tall, elegant, beautiful girl performing toe loops, salchows and axels that i watched with awe as i approached. she smiled at me so warmly that i was immediately convinced she was to be the mother of my as yet unborn children. the fact that she was almost certainly thirty or even forty years younger made absolutely no difference to me. it was no mistake that we were there together, alone at the rink. then i stepped out onto the ice, the knob of my left foot skate popped open and i fell flat on my ass.

i lay on the ice for a moment or two wishing i could explain to the girl that it was the skate's mechanism that malfunctioned and that i was actually a good skater, which i wasn't, which i'm not. the problem was that the knob didn't just pop open. it actually popped right off. so i collected the thing and managed to hobble back to my truck with one skate flapping from side to side as i walked. i got back in, turned the engine on so i could get some heat happening and, swearing under my breath, began trying to figure out how to fix the thing.

it took me a while to figure it out, but eventually i managed to reattach the knob with the wires all in their right places. everything seemed to be alright. i tested it several times on its own before putting the skate back on my hoof. i did not want to take any chances. i did not want any slip-ups this time. soon i was ready to make my way back to the rink where there were by then a few more people. there was a young couple skating while holding hands and a few hockey studs warming up on one end of the rink. but, my future wife was still there, doing some sort of a lutz as i stepped back out onto the ice.

i began skating around. it felt good. i began to relax into it. about a quarter of the way around the rink i was just hitting my stride. then the fucking knob popped again. this time, since i had picked up some actual speed, i went flying head first, sprawling forward along the ice and there i lay, right at the girl's feet. she leaned over and asked if i was alright. i smiled and said i was fine, which i wasn't, but it was painfully clear to me how ridiculous it made me look, falling twice within a total of about twenty seconds of ice time. there was nothing to do. i found the knob, waddled back to my truck, took the goddamned skates off and drove home. my children would remain unborn, of course, and i would return the fancy new skates.

i have never had a lot of luck on skates. that's probably attributable to the trauma i experienced as a very young lad trying to be a good canadian kid. my parents enrolled me in a hockey league played in a local outside rink a couple of long fields away from my neighborhood. the problem was pretty simple. as a ten or twelve year old, i really couldn't skate. i had weak ankles. still, the organizers felt compelled to let me play since my family had paid. in the course of the first night, however, my team's coach tried me, with no success at all, at centre, on the wings and on defense. it was no good. so, when i showed up for the second game my coach, looking prematurely defeated, decided to try me in goal. it was basically my last chance.

the coach helped me get all the stuff on: jock-strap, pads on top of pads, the proverbial metal cup, pads covering every inch of my carcass, the face mask and gloves. and, with a few words of encouragement, he stuck a heavy stick in my mitts and shoved me out onto the ice. it was the coldest night of the winter so far and we were facing a team in the league considered the biggest, toughest. my immediate problem, however, had nothing much to do with the cold or the opposition. i had to pee. what could i do? i was completely suited up, the game was about to begin and i had to pee.

before i could even weigh my options, the puck was dropped and one big bruiser on the other team had a break-away. right off of the first face-off there was a break-away. to me the kid looked like he was too old, too huge to be playing in that league, but the situation i found myself in may have influenced that image. he was barreling down the ice toward me and all i could think about was how i really had to pee. nobody on my team could help. the guy was too fast. within a couple of strides he was right in front, nostrils flaring, eyes glaring. he wound up, he shot, i peed, and i nearly froze my nuts off as i walked home.

meanwhile, be that as it may, i did return the skates with the faulty knob and bought myself a pair of normal, traditional lace-up skates. early on christmas day i made my way to the community centre. the village was quiet, peaceful. families were together, presents were being opened, brunches were being served. as i suspected, there was not a soul at the rink. snow was softly falling and the whiteness of it all contrasted only with a few of the tree-trunks lining the area. a dog was barking somewhere not close. otherwise, there was only the swishing sound of my nice new skates gliding along the ice.



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