1. The sport or pastime of gliding swiftly over ice on ice skates. – Collins Dictionary1
2. Yet another opportunity to make a fool of myself. – The Nut
Once upon a time, I was a novice figure skater.
I can’t remember what put the idea of skating into my head. Probably something I saw on TV. I’m sure my logic was along the lines of, “Skating is pretty and they wear pretty clothes and therefore I must be a skater.”
My mother had already banned me from ballet, fearing it would end in me developing an eating disorder. (Spoiler alert: I ended up developing one anyway, because that’s what happens when you get bullied at a private school for girls and your parents won’t let you leave.)
So just in case she had any similar concerns about skating, I did the smart thing and went over her head.
I asked Santa for skates. Check and mate.
Getting set up for lessons was interesting. My father accompanied me to the rink and had to spend a good five minutes fighting the selective deafness of the registration lady, who was convinced that I must surely be at least an intermediate level skater since I was approximately three or four years older than most of the other beginners.
“Can she do 3 turns?”
“No. She’s never skated.”
“Is she familiar with forward and backward sculling?”
“She. Can’t. Skate.”
“Two foot spins?”
“What about ‘she has never skated before in her entire life’ don’t you understand?”
By the time we finally got out of there, I’m sure the poor man was supremely regretting not just telling me that Santa’s workshop didn’t do sports gear.
Lessons began, and I was one happy little Nut. We started off with the most important things, like how to stop, and how to fall so that you didn’t break anything important. (Several years later, in classic “do as I say, not as I do” fashion, my coach would slip on a patch of black ice in the parking lot and instinctively break her fall with her elbow, a mistake which broke the elbow as well as her fall. Side effects included severe wounding of pride.)
The weeks went by quickly, and though clearly not a born skater, I turned out to be at least a competent one and a fast learner. Enough so that, at the end of the season, when the figure skating club put on a show for all our families, I had the honor of leading my class in our Peter Pan themed group number.
I couldn’t have been happier. Performing on ice was incredible! I couldn’t wait to reach the level where I would be skating my own solo routines.
Until I did reach that level. And realized that our solo routines were going to be much more solo than I had been expecting.
At the novice level, we were deemed good enough skaters to showcase solo during exhibition season, but not yet worthy of a choreographer’s time. My coach would not actually be coaching me in my own routines until I had progressed beyond novice into the dedicated free skate, figures and dance badges. Until then, anything we skated for the public was going to be of our own imagining. This presented a problem for me.
I was a great performer.
I was a lousy choreographer.
This wasn’t helped by the unfortunate fact that the music which had been chosen for all of us to set our routines to was Henry Mancini’s “Baby Elephant Walk”.
I doubt even an Olympic figure skating legend could make that song work on ice. I don’t know who was in charge of picking our soundtrack, but I can only surmise that they were exacting some kind of convoluted revenge against our parents.
And so, armed with precisely zero self-directorial skills and a song that was a recipe for the dullest, most uninspired free skate that even the wildest imaginations of children could not improve, I bravely embarked on a journey of exploration and introspection, at the end of which I had come to the conclusion that I just really, really liked bunny hops. So I shoehorned as many of them into my routine as I could fit.
Bunny hops and Baby Elephant Walk. This was going to be AWESOME.
No wait, awful. Awful was the word I was looking for.
I earned a shiny maroon and gold participation ribbon for my efforts, which I happily displayed to my parents once we had left the building and they could safely stop hiding their faces with their programs.
I would go on to win a silver medal for a much improved, bunny hop free self-choreographed routine two years later, but I would never live down the Baby Elephant Walk.
Today’s blog post was brought to you by the letter I, the number “Participant”, and the MOARBUNNYHOPS Challenge, AKA the Blogging A to Z Challenge.
1 “ice-skating.” CollinsDictionary.com. Collins Dictionary, 2015. Web. 10 April 2015.