K stumbled upon ice skating information on the internet one day and remembered that I said I wanted to go awhile before. We normally meet up for a walk on Thursdays at 7pm and a loonie skate was happening at exactly that time, in a place that is exactly halfway between our houses. It was meant to be.
She got excited and wrote a message on my Facebook wall; another friend of ours saw this message and not-so-subtly mentioned that he would love to go too. He made a big production about it being 20 years since he skated and he was concerned about whether or not he could still do it. I was concerned too. That's pretty much exactly how I was feeling and for that very reason.
We eagerly waited for the rink to open up and then for all the crazy kids (who we knew would be better than us) to go first. Brandon was the first one of us on the ice. He shot off like a rocket: spinning and twirling and speeding away. It was K's turn next, and then mine. I was much less successful than Brandon; apparently he skated a lot more than me as a child.
I was pretty much confined to the boards within 3 feet of the opening. I was going nowhere. Fast.
The young first-aid skater girl recognized my plight immediately. "First time skating?", she asked. "No, it's just been a really long time!", I replied. She suggested I go to the skate shop and pick up a helmet "just in case". I was less than enthused to be sporting a helmet, plus that would require me to 'skate' the 3 feet back to the entrance. She recognized my plight immediately. "Or else I can bring you bars?", she suggested.
She brought me a set of bars. I have to admit I was a little worried about taking my hand off the boards long enough to reach out and grab the bars. But I didn't want to look like a giant pussy, so I tried to do it, while looking as confident as a 30 year old can after having asked for a set of kiddy-bars.
Once I got on the bars, skating was no issue. I started skating away, all fast-like and super-pro.
I was making pretty good progress. And then a small child skated out in front of me. All I could do was squeak and swerve around her. Good thing I drive, otherwise, one or more of us would have gotten hurt (probably me).
After a lap or two (or three) I was confident enough to ditch the bars and skate on my own. It was exhilarating. (And I thought it was fun with the bars...) I was skating around with my shit-eating-grin on my face, laughing and having a grand-old time.
Every 37 seconds I would almost fall and then I would laugh, which would cause me to almost fall again. I'd have to spend some time with the boards to re-group before continuing again.
Eventually, 37 seconds became one minute; and one minute became half a lap. Eventually, I became cocky and over-confident in my skating abilities. Also, I was probably high from not getting enough oxygen to my brain because I was laughing so much. This cockiness lead to my demise. I bailed. Fully. Right on my ass. Out of nowhere.
It hurt. But I managed to get back up without too much difficulty and skated to the boards where I laughed some more.
My tailbone hurt for days.
I went back the following week and didn't need the bars and didn't fall down. It was still just as exhilarating. We decided that we'd skate every Thursday and we were going to buy skates and everything.
Then I was at work one Thursday and said "HEY! Guess what I'm doing tonight!?!?". After people guessed incorrectly, I started skating around and said "Ice skating!!!". A friend looked at me and said "Aren't they closed for the season?!". I said "What season?!". Turns out, they closed the Sunday before and there was no skating that night. It was the worst Thursday ever.
Big thanks to EliseArt for providing illustrations.