When I was young, I'd cross the bridge every day from my apartment building which yawned over one of the major highways in Toronto. For eight years, that bridge crossing would lead me most days toward school, but the weekends were different. I'd stop short just at the other side of the bridge and head to the arena.
Public skate was held in the afternoon and I was there most Saturdays and Sundays, sporting my furry brown skate-covers my mother had made on her sewing machine. I didn't care that they were different from the super popular baby blue store-bought versions, mine made me feel like a skating bear.
I had a crush on one of the guards. I think his first name was either Dave or Mike, but for sure his last name was MacKenzie, which was what all his other skate-guard buddies called him. That was the name I'd calligraphy onto my duo-tangs at school and surround with a heart. I was Mrs. McKenzie in my head, and we'd whirl around Olympic style during the couples skate portion of the afternoon. Of course, that never happened, which is well and good I suppose - as the Zamboni would have had to scrape my jellied splattered too-happy heart off the ice. No one wants that sort of mess.
Instead, what happened was that once they'd announced the start of couples skate over the intercom my friends and I would skate away, refusing to get off the ice. For sure it was some negative attention seeking, and would result in McKenzie and one of his buddies carrying me off the ice by the wrists and ankles. That used to thrill me, because I had absolutely no sense of grace or dignity. I was eleven, so I understand that I didn't know any better.
McKenzie used to compliment me on my ability to skate backwards and I'd glow. "Can you show me how you do that?" he'd ask, and I'd enthusiastically glide away from him.
Then he'd skate away in the opposite direction. I fell for it every single time.
As for the "couple's skate" I'm not sure how old I was when I suddenly did know better, but I remember struggling against McKenzie and whatever guard that week had drawn the short straw to round up the renegade losers off the ice. My gingham top rode up and my too tight Mac jeans were starting to slide down over my hips. I realized that not only was I being carried off the ice (for the umpteenth time) but I was going to be naked by the time we reached the penalty box. I stopped struggling, and grabbed McKenzie's arm after he deposited me to squeak out an "I'm sorry," before he skated off. After that I didn't need to be asked twice to stop skating when the time came.
So here I am, fast forward almost thirty years later.
I wrote this a week ago and I keep opening it to edit. There are a bunch of reasons why I'm going to type the next sentence, but I just can't share right now. Still, I often wish I had someone who would just drag me the fuck off the ice already, pants be damned.
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