Is it really so strange? That I don’t like strapping blades, wheels, or other moving apparatus to my feet?
The Hotel de Ville – not a hotel, but the most beautiful administrative building you’ll ever see – still has its holiday decorations up: illuminated Christmas trees, flashing blue lights on the façade. Most striking is the large ice skating rink where funny spectacles await – put people of all ages and ability on a large slippery surface, you’re sure to have good times.
I was coming back from a book signing (Wally Lamb – sweet and talented man) at Shakespeare and Co. (a tale for another time) when I happened upon the rink. I heard a voice being pumped in over a microphone, then realized there was a skating MC as I approached – slow down, speed it up, yes folks, let’s keep it fun for everyone.
While I happen to like my two feet planted firmly on the ground, it gives me great joy to watch other people give skating a try. I’m a people-watcher anyway, but the interest level can skyrocket when you put them on ice.
There are the small triumphs and tiny setbacks, small moments that aren’t so serious – something to hold onto in our time of very serious moments.
“Si tu puedes, mon amour!” “No, no puedo” the Spanish couple gripping the railing in front of me were saying. “Start like this,” the gallant French boyfriend explains, holding his pretty (terrified) girlfriend’s hands.
Couples and families, showoffs and friends. Little dramas as one person wants to go faster and the other can barely stay upright. Little kids with their daring, cheeky adolescents whizzing by at dangerous speeds. The slips, the falls, the getting back up, the trying it again.
I’m not sure why these people don’t mind us watching, but I’m glad that they let us. Their vulnerability and their tricks, the glee as someone learns to glide.
Thank you, random ice skating rink, for reminding me of such simple pleasures. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll join you sometime.