The Christmas market on Champs-Élysées has erected skating rink. I sussed it out a few days ago with my friend Shannon, a fellow Canadian. We agreed that it wasn’t up to snuff. Too long and narrow, which meant you’d have to slow down on the ends. Plus, there were six-foot flower pots lined down the middle of the rink for decor. Don’t the French know that flower pots get in the way of any whirly woos you might want to practice in the middle of the rink?
Canadians are super snooty about rinks. Don’t argue with me. It’s a birthright. There’s nothing that can be done about it except get your rinks up to snuff or suffer the silent scorn of Canadians everywhere.
So when Christophe and I went to the Christmas market and he said he wanted to go skating, I had plenty of hesitation. I mean, it’s not even big enough for a decent Zamboni cleanup every few hours. Pshaw!
“Do you know how to skate?” I asked Christophe.
“No, not really. Let’s go!”
There is always that moment… that glorious wonderful moment, when you’ve been with someone for a while and they don’t know just how great you are. I mean, they think you’re great and all, but they don’t even know…
So when he stepped onto the ice and hesitated at the rail, I stepped on next to him and BOLTED. I flew like I had rockets strapped to the back of my skates. I did a few crosscuts at the end of the narrow rink, whipped around, flew back and when I came upon a flowerpot at the end of the rink, I grabbed it and swung around for another lap. Maybe that’s why the flowerpots are there because I didn’t even have to slow down. When I returned to Christophe, I started talking with him skating backwards.
When the tourists from the USA asked me to take their photo on the ice, I said sure, because if there is one thing I can do on skates it’s two things at once: Stand and take a photo. But I told them to keep skating and I’d get an action shot, again skating backwards.
The only person better than me was the ref. In fact, if this were the Olympics, I was seriously in second place after him. We’re talking Silver, people. Bronze goes to the couple from Minnesota because, well, they have long winters, too. But I won my Silver by a long shot.
I was ah-mazing.
Back in Canada. I’m not amazing. I’m average. When I was a kid, skating was part of gym class. So every Friday we’d bring our skates to school and if you were the lameo who forgot your skates on Skating Day, you were pretty much shunned by your classmates. No one was going to keep you company as you shivered on the benches alone in your boots. Nosireebob. Skating Day was the best day of the week. In my school, which was conveniently located next to the arena, there were only two seasons: Skating season and Not Skating season.
On the ice, I could hold my own. Nothing to show off, unlike my figure skating classmates who literally skated circles around me and had the fancy skates with the pretty pastel skate guards. Or the hockey boys. I spent most of my time on the ice avoiding snow blasts from the Vandendriessches, VanAckers and VanLaeckes. You know who you are. *eyes narrowed*
My family gave me swimming lessons instead of figure skating. They reasoned that swimming lessons were more important since we lived near a lake. Best to stick to lifesaving skills. But oh how I yearned to figure skate. So my dreams of Winter Olympic glory were dashed. And as for swimming in the Summer Olympics, I never drowned, which is the success story in that regard.
But here in Paris, put me in skates and I’m a star.