2008-01-04 / Editorial

Musings

By Robert Morton-Ranney

If you're ever in Canada in the winter, don't go ice skating. It's boring.

I did just that recently and, boy, was I disappointed. For starters, everyone on the ice seems to have their own imaginary lane, and they just stay in it while they're going around the rink.

Dullsville, man.

On each lap, the slower skaters are on the inside and the faster skaters are on the outside, so that people won't run into each other. In a full hour-and-a-half of skating, I didn't see a single collision.

And, if that isn't enough, one end of the rink was blocked off with red cones so that the little children and anyone else just learning to skate would have a place to practice without fear of getting in anyone else's way, or vice versa.

Pathetic.

No sir, if you want to have real fun skating, if you want an exciting time full of thrills, chills, and spills, then you just stay in good ol' ro-DYElun. That's where they know what they're doing.

If you need a little instruction, allow me to furnish the following guide.

First, be fearless. Don't pay any attention to people who say that falling on the ice can do permanent damage to your head. Ignore all warnings that skate blades could cut you or someone else. Indeed, any sort of caution should be left in the parking lot.

The object of the endeavor is to make it as much fun as you can for all those around you.

With this in mind, when you first get on the ice, pump your feet as fast as you can. Keep changing from one foot to another without pausing to glide. Wave your arms in big circles like they're helicopter blades. If you can't do that, just flail constantly.

As for direction, don't follow the flow of traffic. Aim for the center of the rink, and cut in front of as many people as possible. This will make it more fun for others.

When you get to the center, turn around and head straight for the boards. Figuring out just where you're going will make it more interesting for your fellow skaters.

Try to get as many friends as possible to go with you and have them all stand in one place. Form a triangle with some along the boards and a few out toward the middle of the rink or, even better, have everyone stop in the center of traffic.

This will give people an obstacle to avoid. They'll enjoy the challenge.

If you're a parent, bringing a young child with you offers a whole new set of possibilities. Be sure to let your daughters or sons fend for themselves. Others will enjoy the satisfaction of picking them up off the ice.

You can give them a bright orange traffic cone to push, or a pile of plastic milk crates, but under no circumstances should you give them any instruction. Most recommendeded is that you sit on the other side of the boards with a cup of hot chocolate.

If you must be out there with them, however, one creative option is to wear galoshes and walk with your back to the oncoming skaters while capturing your little ones using your cell phone's video feature. Walk in a zigzag pattern so that you're a moving target.

As your own comfort with skating increases, and you begin to skate faster than others, weave in and out of traffic. Come as close as you can to touching the skate blades of others. People enjoy the thrill of not falling down at the last minute.

Be sure to touch others with your hand on your way by them. This will help to stabilize you and destabilize them. And that moment of panic when one tries to regain one's balance can be a highlight in any skater's evening.

The ultimate moment comes when you skate between two friends who are close together- bonus points if they're holding hands.

Those poor Canadians seem to be under the illusion that skating is a skill to be cultivated. They even have multiple on-ice attendants, actually skating with the crowd, to make sure everything goes smoothly

But here in little Rhody, we know its real purpose is to add excitement to the lives of those around us. That's why there's nobody official anywhere to interfere with the fun.

Almost makes winter worthwhile, doesn't it?

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