About three years ago, it dawned on me that a city that boasted an ice hockey team, must have an ice skating rink; so, I started polling the people at the gym and all of my friends to find someone to go skating with me. Please don't think of Sonia Hennie when I mention that I used to ice skate: I probably spent a couple of dozen Saturdays in 1949-1952 figuring out how to stand up on skates and motate myself around the rink. My parents and those of the slightly younger girl who lived across the street dug up enough money to treat us to those skating sessions. While the parents dig up enough money for us to take baton twirling lessons (the neighbor and her cousin took lessons for a year while I persevered for three years), there was never any thought of our taking skating lessons. I think I even skated with high school friends on a frozen lake in Swope Park during the early 1950s.
When we were in Seattle (1965-1966), I recall taking Bogie and Dudette ice skating. Again, there were no lessons involved, but we had a good time!
In 1978-1981, I went so far as to buy a pair of ice skates so that I could skate on the frozen ponds and west-side athletic field parking lot in Wichita. The city flooded the parking lot to provide recreational skating when temperatures were low enough, and I remember skating there with one or the other daughter and a friend from work. When I moved to Florida in 1981, it signaled the end to ice skating but I did go roller skating with the daughters of a couple of men with whom I worked. Then there was a long "dry" spell. From1982 until recently I was never on skates of any description.
When the bright idea occurred to me that Wichita had, at some point in time, built an ice rink, I cast about for co-conspirators with whom to get back into skating. Finally, a few weeks ago, I decided that I was going to die of old age before I found anyone. I launched off on my own.
Long story too-late shortened: About 10 days ago, I went skating for the first time since 1981 - using rental skates, since I had given away my ice skates many years ago. Having learned that, at my age I must approach physical "feats" slowly, I only attempted one circuit of the ice on my first time out - hand firmly resting on the side ledge the whole circuit, wobbling along and encouraged by a 20s or 30s-something woman who took me under her wing (Sabra). Second time out, I let go of the side ledge for the third circuit, stopping after six. Third time out, I kept to the ledge for the first circuit or two, but "skated" (that means concentrating on staying upright) for a total of nearly 30 minutes. Today I was aiming for 40 minutes. I didn't quite make it, taking a small fall during the first circuit and never quite feeling as stable on the skates as I had on the previous outing.
At about the 23-minute mark, I got distracted by a tiny little girl (maybe 3 years old) whom I was passing and the next thing I know I'm on my back!!! Everyone at the rink gathered around the ridiculous old woman, quite anxious to get her back on her feet. For my part, I told them to let me lie there for a moment gathering my wits. They were bound and determined to get me upright, but I was having none of that because I could feel that I would black out if I came upright too quickly. When I would let them, they helped me into the penalty box where I put my head between my knees as I sat on the bench. (One of the expert skaters kept insisting that I lean back against the wall. He may be a physician, for all I know; but, I know how to handle it when I am in danger of blacking out.)
Within 10 minutes I was over the danger of blacking out, I was being questioned by the skating rink manager, and four Emergency Medical Technicians had arrived from the Wichita Fire Department. After establishing that I was lucid, that I had taken the brunt of the fall on my left shoulder, that I bumped my head lightly, that I had fallen (not passed out), that my blood pressure was normal, that I would sign a form saying that I declined transport to a hospital, and that I wished to continue skating, the EMTs and crowd dispersed. However, for the few circuits that I skated after the fall, everyone was very solicitous.
I am at home, it has been a few hours, I know that I am more injured than I had realized (of course!), and knowing that I won't be able to move in the morning (I had told my new friends at the rink that it would probably be a week before my aches would let me return), I have decided that I really mustn't make a habit of taking such falls. I really need to learn to stay on my feet/skates. Anyone have a sky crane that I may borrow?
Sabra has sent me three emails, one of which included this (below) photo of two of the young girls who went to get me a cup of water, offered to remove my skates for me, and were quite solicitous of my well-being. Sabra wrote that she and the young girls all hoped that I would be back on the ice soon. Awwww...aren't they sweet?
When I return to the rink, I plan to sit down with the manager to educate him on dealing with us elders. Good grief! If he is going to call 9-1-1 every time I fall, we have a problem here. He needs to understand that young people jump up from a big fall like a Jack-in-the-box, that adults take 1/2 second longer, and that we elders take 10 minutes. Let's not make a federal case of it unless there are broken bones or unless the ice is becoming red with blood! He probably has a rule by which he is bound; but, I'm hoping that I can leave a document with him that absolves the rink and its management from blame when I fall. (He offered to have the skates I was using sharpened to get better grip on the ice. I assured him that the fall wasn't caused by the ice or the skates but by my inattentiveness.)