Wednesday, February 23, 2005

To all of you who wrote concerned about my pain, thank you. I have made an appointment with the dentist to see what could be causing it. Most likely, the filling needs to be shaped a tad, or I have TMJ that was aggravated due to all the work inside. This was a big, deep cavity that required a lot of work. Thankfully, my dentist is a woman with little hands. I can't imagine what I would feel like if my jaw had been stretched any further by big meaty man hands.

On Monday, I went ice skating with my mom and 7-year-old nephew Alec. It had been years since I had ice skated, especially having lived in Los Angeles for so long where the sport isn't as popular as it is on the east coast. Usually, a decent sized east coast city will have an ice skating rink, and therefore, be a host to "open skate" at least once a day when it's not the scene of parents coming to blows over their kid's hockey games. Open skate means that anyone with a few bucks can rent skates, get on the ice, and after that it's up to the war between your balance and gravity. And that's where the hilarity begins. Imagine going to a big party with a hundred people who can't hold their liquor but are lovable drunks, and you have open skate at any ice rink. People are falling left and right, kids mostly. Adults are wobbling along, precariously on the verge of a wipeout or clinging to the wall to keep from falling. Everyone is laughing because yes, it is that funny.

And, like at a lot of parties, it's usually the little guy who can hold their booze the best. It's the same at open skate, where four or five little speed demons pass you like you're driving a horse and carriage at the Indianapolis 500. In this case, it was four or five orthodox Jewish kids that I dubbed the speeding yarmulkes. Half my height, dressed in dress shirts, slacks, and skull caps, they left us all in their kosher wake. About every thirty seconds, the speeding yarmulkes would pass me on all sides in a blur of black velvet.

As the time went by, I got my stride, and even skated backward a little bit. I picked my nephew up from the ice several times and skated alongside him as one of the rink guards gave him some pointers. It was precious actually, seeing this man tell Alec to keep his knees bent and instructing him on the finer points of staying upright on ice skates. Also precious was seeing the parents out on the ice with their kids, encouraging them along. By the end of the day, I knew most of the kid's names, because I constantly heard, "Good Daniel! You're doing great Sam! That"s it, Elspeth!" And I'm sure everyone knew Alec's name, because I was saying, "Great job Alec! You're doing great Alec! Whoops Alec! That's okay, Alec! I bet your bum is getting sore, Alec!"

There was one orthodox man dressed in a business suit and tie, as if he'd just stepped out of the office and put on his skates. He was having a great time with his kids, helping them along though he was struggling himself, always smiling and laughing. It was great to watch. Again, that word comes up.

Precious.

I also picked my share of kids up from the ice when they'd wipe out in front of me. Sam, of "You're doing great Sam!" fame, tottered toward me and then crumpled to the ice into a ball of fleece. I helped him up and got him back on his feet. He was maybe five or six years old and looked up at me with gigantic blue eyes under a mop of sandy hair and said, "Thank you very much."

I had to fight the temptation to kidnap Sam.

The kids are just so damn cute, little piles of rumpled colorful clothing, smiles, mittens, and ear warmers, fallen after trying their damnednest. And what's touching is how willing they were to accept my hand even though I was a stranger. I think that's what I really liked the best about this experience, was the human touch and gentleness of it all. Everyone was in it together, having fun, working as one cohesive team in hope to keep our asses from kissing the ice.

It was Alec's second time ice skating and he did really well. I couldn't help laughing at him in his little ice skates and fierce determination to stay upright, and until his 40th time, his good attitude about falling. Then, his pride was getting a little hurt since Auntie Anne hadn't fallen yet. I let him in on a secret that girls were more natural balancers than boys because of the way we are built. That offered some consolation.

Some.

We went again today at a different rink, the downtown outdoor rink, and had it all to ourselves. It was a work day and this rink was huge. The afternoon light gleamed a silver white from the ice as my nephew and I made our way around. My mom sat it out this time, content to watch us try to fill the enormous space. This was more of a struggle for me as the ice was different and seemed more slippery.

However, much to the chagrin of my nephew and my own disbelief, I still didn't fall.

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