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Skate Expectations

By Jerry Zezima

Because I have always thought that a double axel is something in my car and that ice is best used in cocktails, I’ve never been a big fan of figure skating.

But now I can’t get enough of it, especially after taking a lesson from two of the best figures in skating.

I refer to my granddaughters Chloe and Lilly, who had never skated before but managed to show me how to glide, slide and land on my hide.

I hadn’t been on ice skates since the Ice Age, which I am old enough to remember. That’s why I was hoping to put on a mammoth performance for Chloe and Lilly, who begged me to take them skating when my wife, Sue, and I were at an event sponsored by the Southold Mothers’ Club, of which the girls’ mother, Lauren, who also is our younger daughter, is a member.

While Lauren, a talented photographer, was on a photo shoot at the farm where the festivities were taking place, Sue and I watched Chloe, 8, and Lilly, 5, who spent most of the afternoon outside with their friends, sipping hot chocolate and frolicking in bouncy houses — though not, of course, simultaneously.

As the day was winding down, the girls asked to go to the outdoor ice rink.

Sue said it was time to leave, so the girls turned to their old soft touch.

“Please, Poppie?” they pleaded.

Two minutes later, we were lacing on skates.

“This is the first time I have ever been ice skating!” Chloe told the attendant.

“Me, too!” Lilly chimed in.

“And you, sir?” the attendant asked me.

“I used to skate back in the day,” I replied. “Unfortunately, the day was Nov. 5, 1969.”

“It’s like riding a bike,” he said.

“That means I won’t forget how to fall on my keister,” I assured him.

The rink wasn’t quite like the one in Rockefeller Center, chiefly because it didn’t have real ice.

“It’s some sort of plastic that looks and feels like ice,” the attendant explained. “But these are real ice skates.”

The only one not wearing them was Sue, who was given a pair of foot covers that resembled shower caps and went over her sneakers.

As soon as I hit the ice, or whatever it was, the ice, or whatever it was, hit me.

Down I went. Luckily, I didn’t land on my head, which would have broken the rink. Instead, I had to take the humiliation sitting down.

When I struggled to my feet, Chloe said, “Hold my hand, Poppie.”

Lilly came over and held my other hand.

“We won’t let you fall again,” she promised.

The novices were giving the old-timer a lesson.

“Let’s do a figure eight,” I suggested.

“What’s that?” Chloe asked.

When I explained the basic ice skating move, Lilly said, “We can do two figure eights.”

“That would be a figure 16,” said Chloe, who, unlike her grandfather, is a whiz at math.

Pushing my luck, I tried to do a camel spin, which sounds like a smelly form of desert transportation, and did a perfectly executed belly flop.

“Poppie, you need more practice,” Chloe said sympathetically while helping me up.

As a hockey fan, I imagined I was lifting the Stanley Cup — with assistance from the girls, of course.

Then, because I somehow managed to remain vertical, I recalled sportscaster Al Michaels’ famous call when the United States shocked the Soviet Union in the 1980 Winter Olympics: “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!”

The girls and I spent the rest of the session performing moves that would have impressed Olympic judges if they had been members of the mothers’ club.

I even danced with one of the plastic penguins that were supposed to aid shaky skaters like yours truly.

Finally, it was time to go.

“You did OK, Poppie,” Chloe said as we took off our skates.

“For an old guy,” Lilly added.

“Thank you, girls,” I said. “I had fun, but my knees are a little sore.”

“Maybe,” Chloe said, “you should put some ice on them.” 

Jerry Zezima

Jerry Zezima writes a humor column for Tribune News Service, which distributes it to newspapers nationwide and abroad. He is also the author of five books, "Leave It to Boomer," "The Empty Nest Chronicles," "Grandfather Knows Best," "Nini and Poppie’s Excellent Adventures" and "Every Day Is Saturday," all of which are “crimes against literature.” He has won seven awards from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists for his humorous writing.

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