Ignorance and bliss
The things you wish you’d known sooner....
The other night, Lisa and I were talking about childhood activities, and I mentioned how cool I thought it was that kids actually ice skate on the pond in the cemetery at the end of the street. She agreed that it was wonderful that the pond froze so reliably, and that the cemetery owners welcomed the families who come there, and I agreed - but what I thought was cool was that people really do ice skate on frozen ponds. This was something I read about in books, or saw in Currier and Ives prints, and here were kids from around the neighborhood, out there in their pink and lime green parkas, ice skating not in a rink but on real frozen water in the middle of a snow-covered field.
Lisa: that’s just “skate.” You don’t need to say “ice skate.”
Me: But then how do you know I don’t mean roller skating?
She gives me The Look. I try to remember not to say “ice skate” next time.
Lisa: Have you ever actually been skating?
Me: Yes! Twice! Once even at Rockefeller Center!
I was on a high school trip at the time, about 30 kids and chaperones on a bus trip from Little Rock to New York City over the Thanksgiving holiday. It was an adventure, for sure, but it’s not germane to this post.
Lisa: So what kind of skates did you wear?
Me: The ones they rented me....?
This is when I found out that there are two kinds of ice skates, hockey skates and figure skates. (And I may still have this wrong, so bear with me.) After cross-questioning, it was determined that I had been given figure skates, because they had the jagged teeth at the front of the blade. Hockey skates don’t. So, I asked, how do you stop on hockey skates?
And that’s when I had the real revelation. The little teeth on the front of a figure skate blade aren’t at all like the button at the front of a pair of roller skates (which are the brakes, at least on the old-fashioned, out-of-line variety). They really are for figure skating, for kicking off into those fancy jumps, and pivoting in spins, and stuff like that. To stop, you turn the blade sideways and slide to a stop in a spray of ice chips - which isn’t showing off at all, or at least not much, despite how cool it looks. You don’t tip your foot forward and drag the teeth in the ice. Doing that results in falling, usually flat on your face.
I just wish I’d found this out twenty years ago.