So for those of you who haven't been following along, I am in pretty decent shape for a man of my size and stature, that is to say for someone who is quite large. I have not skied this year but I did last year, and I do walk my dog (from time to time) as well as golf (poorly) during the summer months. However there was a time in my life (not too long ago) when I was pretty athletic. It has, however, been thirteen years since I wore any pair of skates, and twenty-odd years since the time prior to that. Though as a child I did own a pair of roller skates, the last time I was on any skates I am not sure that in-line roller blades had yet been invented.
So Theresa decided that we were going to buy Aaron (our nine year old) rollerblades for Christmas. No problem, jolly good! The only issue is in order to get him onto the roller rink with those rollerblades he was going to have to have his hand held by someone he trusted. So all of a sudden in January I was elected to get a pair of skates for myself.
It should be pointed out now that so many factors pointed to this being a bad idea, not least of which is the number on my bathroom scale, but also factors such as how difficult it is to find a pair of size 12 rollerblades in Canada in January. I had almost given up hope when coming out of a restaurant at lunch I noticed a sporting good store next door, with an empty parking lot. I went in, and wouldn't you know it, they had just received their first stock in that day, and though it was still in the back the helpful little *&%$ serving me said it wouldn't be any trouble, and opened up six cases of skates before finding my size. I tried them on and they fit. Oh joy.
Last week-end we had planned to go to the roller rink after tutoring except that Aaron forgot his skates at home, and when we came home we had to pay a condolence call to a neighbour. Aww shucks. Maybe next week, ok?
Well next week did eventually come (today coincidentally) and Aaron was ready for tutoring bright and early… he packed his school bag, he had his tutoring binder, and he had his rollerblades. I figured it was going to happen eventually and there really was nothing on my schedule next week that would have been impossible to accomplish with a broken collar bone, so what the heck, let's go.
We got to the rink and it occurred to me that I could hardly get him to tie his running shoes, how would I get the skates on him? NO PROBLEM!!! He was ready for that, and though he did need my help with the fasteners and then the padding, he was ready to follow my instruction… did not give me the slightest opening to punish him and throw his skates out. Now he starts behaving… just my luck.
While he was still sitting I told him to give me a few minutes to get my bearings… It had been a lot of years since I'd skated and before I trusted myself with his life I figured I would jump in myself. I hobbled over to the rink, and was transformed. It really was just like riding a bike, you don't forget! It was as if I had been skating all along… and though I played hockey for years I do not remember myself being an overly powerful skater. GONE, Mitch the Super Skater was on the rink!
I was back… I was comfortable! I was executing my turns! I was speeding up, going with the flow, my powerful legs accelerating me through the throngs of kids who had skill and agility, but my legs overpowered all. It was thrilling! It was exhilarating! It was too bad I had no idea how to stop. Well I suppose that's what walls are for, right? Walls, pads, and floors, the brakes of champions!
So a few more turns around the oval and I had… well, certainly not mastered the right heel braking system, but I had attempted it, and remembered the laws of gravity and inertia… if I stop pushing then I will slow down and eventually stop. I went out and got Aaron, and we were on our way! Of course a 105lbs nine-year-old on wheels clutching to your left arm for dear life does tend to throw off one's balance, and we took several minutes to get to the rink from the snack bar.
He was terrified. He was petrified. He was mortified. He was… getting the hang of it! I couldn't believe it, he was getting it! Aaron was staying up and though he was no Brian Boitano he was certainly taking baby steps. After a few minutes he was able to skate (as it were), turn (kinda), and fall (hard). However he did start to figure out his balance, and a few minutes later I would say he found his skate legs! We took a lot of breaks, but I could tell that he was truly in love with skating. I have to admit, I was having fun too.
After ninety minutes of 10 minutes on, 5 minutes off the rink we decided to call it a day, but the beaming expression of joy on his face made me realize that we were going to be back. Next week he'll take a lesson with someone who can brake without walls. I may be too old to learn, but who knows… in a few weeks maybe he'll teach me how to stop! In the meantime We'll just go out and have fun. I can't wait until spring… we can even do it outdoors!