It’s Me, Roo, I’m Swimming Skating!

December 8, 2011 at 7:10 pm (By Amba)

I FUCKING ICE SKATED. For the first time in possibly 40 years. I am so psyched.

I told Chris, my visiting friend from Chapel Hill, that Citibank had turned Bryant Park into a skating pond and maybe we could go there and watch. She liked that idea since she wanted to pay a visit to the library, which Bryant Park is of course right behind.

As the time approached—today—I found myself saying to Chris, “If we are watching people ice skate, I am probably going to have to rent skates and go out there and try it.”

To Chris’s great credit, even though her mother would never let her and her siblings learn to ice skate for fear they’d get hurt, and even though in recent years her sister actually broke an arm ice skating at Rockefeller Center, she said without an instant’s hesitation, “Go for it!” And when we got there, and I was looking for a way to bail (maybe they’d be all out of skates my size?), her look of delighted expectation left me no way out.

*    *    *
First, of course, I fell on my ass.

I got out on the ice and was shocked.  I jerked and wobbled back and forth spastically and went right over backwards. Got back up and lunged for the railing. Thought, “There is no way I can do this. My balance isn’t good enough any more.  My reflexes are too slow. I’ll just hobble around the rink a couple of times holding onto the railing.” So that’s what I did.

The second or third time around I noticed I was doing a little better than the adults and kids who had obviously never skated before. Hmmm.

I lost count. Maybe the 8th time around, I did not go near the railing once.

I was even kind of tentatively gliding, and windmilling had shrunk to an occasional tiny balance correction with the arms.

I never took lessons or anything and was never a really good skater, just good enough to have fun. They’d freeze over the park across from our house and we’d go over there and scramble around for hours. 40 years of disuse, and that motor pattern was still intact in my brain, folded in tissue and mothballs, needing only to be awakened and shook out.



  1. Michael Haz said,

    You will hurt so much tomorrow, but good for you!

  2. kngfish said,

    I just yesterday I mentioned how I wanted to skate at Rockefeller Center during the Christmas season…It’s been almost as long for me!

  3. karen said,

    Ron, i was just thinking that it would have been perfect timing had you been there w/a video camera(or phone, whichever you use). I can just see you, amba-

    What a wonderful thing to do!!!!!!!!!!

    Jay Peak has a new ice arena now. If you ever do make it back up this way, that would be an experience, too. They have a new H2Opark, too. Oh, and an 18hole(actually, 19:0)) golf course.

    I’m plugging the mt, i know.

  4. kngfish said,

    oh no, Karen, I couldn’t go to New York…..Amba knows how much I hate it…. :-P

  5. Icepick said,


    On purpose?!

  6. Icepick said,

    Citibank had turned Bryant Park into a skating pond ….

    The execs are practicing for the afterlife?

  7. amba12 said,


  8. amba12 said,

    Michael Haz: I’m not sure I am going to hurt tomorrow, but I sure am exhausted tonight. Emotionally exhausted! I’m not sure which was more shocking: discovering that I couldn’t skate at all, or, then, discovering that yes I could.

  9. Icepick said,

    Which reminds me of a story. A friend of mine growing up got talked into going to an ice rink here in town to learn to ice skate. He fell down and shattered his ankle on the first turn! He had more plates and screws in his ankle than the had put in my whole leg when it got crushed in a car accident.

    For the record, I had a 12 inch plate on my left femur, bolted into place with twelve screws, a pin in my hip, and three other screws going from front to back to hold other pieces of bone/bone graft in place. Plus the rod in my lower leg. I had more metal overall, but he had over twenty screws and two plates in that ankle. I have no idea how all that stuff even fit in his ankle. Yowtch.

    Which all goes to show that a Florida boy, born & bred, engaged to a girl from India has no business using ice for anything other than drinks!


    Ice rinks in Florida are just simply wrong. I have evidence about this. We’ve had several hockey teams in Florida through the years, even here in Orlando. Those Orlando teams on at least two occassions won their league championships. Said leagues folded immediately after the Florida team won said championships. Not only that, but following the Tampa Bay Lightning of the NHL winning that league’s championship in 2004, the entire next season of the NHL got CANCELLED. I believe that was the only time a major North American sports league has lost an entire season due to labor problems.

    Hockey in Florida is just wrong, and ice rinks merely encourage it.

  10. david said,

    If you ice skated fucking, I do hope you’ll let us know . . .

  11. amba12 said,

    Yes, hockey in Florida deeply violates that “think local, eat local” principle macrobiotics are always talking about. Jacques once saw my father reading Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground in Florida. That too was deeply wrong.

    I don’t know how we managed to avoid serious injury learning to skate on cracked, flooded grass and mud in Chicago. However, it WAS Chicago, not Florida. Ice skating was almost second nature. What else was there to do for a large part of the year, except snowball fights? We played outside till our fingers and toes and noses were numb as wood, and then came in and had hot cocoa with marshmallows.

    We had a much-loved exchange visitor from South India when I was in high school — a graceful, gangly, long-limbed young guy in his twenties with not an ounce of good Nordic blubber on him. He used to get sooo cold in winter. Once we took him ice skating, and I remember him floundering beautifully around the rink, a natural without a clue. I remember my dad trying to encourage him by calling him the Tamil Tiger — a sobriquet that at the time did not yet have a darker meaning.

  12. amba12 said,

    If you ice skated fucking, I do hope you’ll let us know . . .

    That Ice Capades stuff is so far above my pay grade. So far.

  13. mockturtle said,

    Great! What fun! It’s been about that long–possible a little longer–since I was last on skates. Instead of taking piano which, of course, my parents wanted me to take, I took several years of skating lessons. Not sure my ankles would be strong enough now…..Anyway, I’m proud of you!

  14. amba12 said,

    Try it! Just lace the skates up tight! And hold onto the railing till the knack comes back.

  15. Icepick said,

    Jacques once saw my father reading Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground in Florida. That too was deeply wrong.

    Maybe that’s why I couldn’t finish it when I tried to read it last summer! That would also explain why I could never finish “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” depsite repeated attempts in my youth. It was the only book I attempted in my teens that I did not finish, and I read huge books back then. The Gulag Archipeligo is a lot easier to read, even though it is MUCH longer.

    I guess the only part of Russian Literature that could be safely read in Florida would be the parts of Bulgakov’s “Master and Margarita” that deal with Pontius Pilate – we’ve got a lot of roses down here….

  16. kngfish said,

    Notes from the Underground! My annual Christmas reading to my Brother-in-law’s brother! While everyone else passed presents and got drunk, I would read it to him every year….

    Good memories….sigh!

  17. mockturtle said,

    I found Gulag enthralling, if long [had it checked out from the library and had to renew it twice!], and am now reading Donbas, about Jacques. [ Amba, what did Jacques think of Solzhenitsyn?]

    I read my only Dostoevsky novel, The Brothers Karamazov this past year. Enjoyed it so much I truly hated it to end. Does anyone know if Crime and Punishment is as good a read?

    Tolstoy is the one I couldn’t get through. Read Anna Karenina when in my teens and got totally lost in the names of the characters. So I figured War and Peace would be even more confusing so I never attempted it. Saw the movie, though.. ;-)

    And what does any this have to do with ice skating?? :-O

  18. mockturtle said,

    Do people wear helmets nowadays when they skate?

  19. amba12 said,

    Some do. That problem is more easily solved, though, by falling on the part of yourself that is already padded.

  20. kngfish said,

    mockturtle….try The Idiot! I’d be interested to hear what you thought of it.

    Plus, try Gogol’s Dead Souls… read a loooong time ago, but I think Odets did the English translation.

  21. mockturtle said,

    OK, thank you. I’ll put those on my winter reading list. I’m thinking the translation is crucial.

  22. mockturtle said,

    I just put both books on my Amazon ‘wish list’ until I get enough to qualify for free shipping. I’m ordering the Pevear & Volokhonsky translations of both.

  23. kngfish said,

    Ah! Totally unfamiliar with those translations….It’d be interesting to hear a modern-sounding version.

    Maybe later, Anna Karanina, or Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons…

    let me know how you like them!

  24. Icepick said,

    Notes from the Underground! My annual Christmas reading to my Brother-in-law’s brother! While everyone else passed presents and got drunk, I would read it to him every year….

    Good memories….sigh!

    This qualifies as the weirdest holiday tradion I’ve ever heard of. And I do mean any holiday, even Arbor Day.

  25. kngfish said,

    It was…great! He had a vision problem that made reading difficult for him, but he was a very sharp, philosophically inclined person. He always wanted people to read to him, (this was before “audio books”) but most would read by rote….I put on a performance! I used to always experiment reading aloud, trying different voices for different characters….

    I would do scenes from Shakespeare like that for him….but Russian novels were ones he really loved. He would remember how I would read it aloud and correct me if I tried to change it from what he had in his head the following year….

    We weren’t antisocial….but once people got loud being “in their cups”, neither of us enjoyed that, so we would slink off for our Christmas readings…

  26. Icepick said,

    Ron, I think I wish you hadn’t told me that. It was weirder before I knew the actual details!

  27. mockturtle said,

    I don’t find it weird at all! And, Ice, just what do you do on Arbor Day? :-D

  28. mockturtle said,

    Hey, does anybody know how Randy’s doing? I’ve been wondering.

  29. Icepick said,

    I don’t find it weird at all!

    Not after he explained it.

    On Arbor Day I sit under a tree at a friend’s house, waiting for his Arbor Day joke. Much like the Great Pumpkin, the joke never arrives….

  30. mockturtle said,


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