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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Gazelle

I was horrified a few weeks back as I scoured through the mail. After laughing off a suggestive memo from traffic court, I choked on my bagel as I noticed a letter sent for my son.
I knew it couldn’t be good. What would somebody want with a 4-year old? I knew some sort of burden awaited me.
Imagine my grief as I opened the envelope and found an invitation to a little girl’s birthday party. It wasn’t an ordinary birthday party either. It was an ice-skating party. Again, imagine my grief.
Worst of all, it was scheduled during the heart of “Championship Sunday”, a festivity my beloved New York Giants were sure to be a part of.
I quickly calmed down as I realized the Giants game was a perfect excuse to get out of this mess.
“That sucks, Steve,” my wife said, “I don’t know any of those people. It would be nice if you could come.”
“Yeah, that’s a tough break. I really want to be a part of it, but…it’s such a big game.”
Several days later, I found myself in a fit of rage after the Giants were beaten by the Eagles. As the remote was in mid-flight toward the television, my rage transformed to panic as I recalled the consequences of this loss. The Giants wouldn’t be playing on Championship Sunday after all. I choked on another bagel as I imagined my face gliding across the ice. (Yes, I do enjoy bagels, and eat them even during fits of rage.)
My wife and I agreed to a plan. She would patrol the ice with our son while I roamed on solid ground and socialized with fellow parents.
Ice skating has never had much of a place in my life. My limited experience includes near-drowning and artificial farting.
As a youngster, my friends and I played a game of make-shift hockey on the small pond behind my home. We were initially thrilled as the ice began to give way underneath us. It wasn’t until the cold water shriveled my already under-developed genitals that I began hustling for dry land. While the pond was only four feet deep, it was a challenge to escape the rapidly collapsing ice.
Fortunately, my trusty childhood dog, Midnight, was nearby. She barked wildly as we both scurried for sound ice. I recall her muffled bark as I palmed her head eyes-deep into the icy waters. Her submerging body provided just enough leverage for me to climb to safety. I never saw her again after that day. My parents said she went to a better place.
Anyway, I’m sure you’re curious about the artificial farting. The only way I could ever get through a figure skating broadcast was to make fart noises every time the skater bends over, which happens to be quite often. It doesn’t get much funnier than disrupting the graceful performance of Michelle Kwan with a deafening arm fart as she splits through the air.
Going back to the birthday party, I was relieved to find that I wasn’t the only parent watching from the sidelines. I was trying my best to maintain conversation when I realized my son was really struggling. It was his first time on skates, and it was very clear he was not a natural. My wife was no match for the 45 pounds of terror on ice. He fluttered around violently, posing great danger to the others. I knew I had to get some skates and help contain him.
I approached the ice slowly, as unsure of myself as I’ve ever been. I couldn’t recall the last time I was on skates. I stumbled clumsily for the first few glides, but quickly gained some confidence as I made it to my son without incident.
As I helped the boy around the ice I realized it wasn’t very difficult at all. What was all the fuss about?
“Geez, you’re actually a pretty good skater,” my wife said.
I continued to get my skates under me and my confidence grew stronger. I was able to start and stop on a dime. I quickly ignored my family and began to weave in and out of the children. I even elevated my back leg when I was sure nobody was watching.
“Steve! We can still use a little help over here!”
“Oh, sorry. I just…I feel like I’m in a zone right now,” I said.
“What? You’re not that good! I just meant you don’t look as goofy as I thought you would!”
“Whatever! I’m prancing around like a gazelle out here,” I replied.
Our exchange was interrupted for cake and ice cream. I couldn’t believe how anxious I was to get back on the ice.
“Alright, let’s pick up the pace, people!” I shouted to the ice cream scooper.
The birthday rituals dragged on for an hour. I tried to hide my disappointment when the wife asked me to return our rental skates.
“Are you sure the skating is over?” I asked
“Well, I got plans, so we’ll have to go pretty soon,” the wife replied.
“Please Mommy! Can we skate some more!” my son begged.
“OK, for 15 more minutes.”
“I’ll go out with him,” I said quickly.
“No, you don’t need to. I’ll take care of it.”
“Are you sure? Because I can…I mean, I can go..,” I stopped myself short as she looked at me curiously.
My man-pride prevented me from telling her what I really felt. I wanted to go back out on that ice and skate my heart out. I wanted to skate to music. I wanted the spotlight gleaming off my sequin blouse as my man-toe burst through my tights.
As I watched football later that afternoon, I couldn’t shake the ice skating from my mind. As Kurt Warner led the Cardinals on a game winning drive, I couldn’t help but imagine him landing a triple-axle before each throw. I found myself hoping for a sit-spin touchdown celebration.
Hopefully the football gods will have mercy on my soul.

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