This past weekend, Amynah and I organized a small skating party at the local ice-rink. I managed not to fall, despite not having been on skates in over fours years, and not having been particularly skilled at the activity to begin with.
People seemed to enjoy themselves, even those novices who came from climes in which ice is something that belongs in your drink, not under your feet.
Skating, while not exactly alien to locals (they do boast a professional hockey team here, after all) is a decidedly minority pursuit. The line-ups to get in were tremendous, not because there were so many people, but because there’s only one skating facility in town, and almost everyone needed to rent their skates. As I came here from a neighbourhood in Montreal in which I had a choice of three outdoor rinks within a ten-minute walk, and in which skate ownership was more common than bicycle ownership, this was a shock.
More surprising was the reactions Amynah got from her colleagues when she invited them to join. While the younger members of her lab were happy to give it a shot, many of the older members were aghast: “Last time I went skating, three of my friends had to go to the hospital!” “You have to wear really thick skiing gloves – otherwise, if you fall, you could have your fingers cut off by a skate blade!” (This from a girl who climbs cliffsides for fun).
With these alarming stories in my head, I went into the “Iceberg” (as the rink is called) with a certain sense of forboding. How chaotic are the rinks that people are losing digits? Were paramedics on site? It turned out to not be so bad. While there were many bruises to go around, and at least one strained tendon sustained when one of our over-enthusiastic Argentinian friends took a tumble, the most danger I faced was the risk of soap in my eye from the fake “snow” falling from the section of the rink with the dance music (well, that and the six-year-old girl with whom I collided. Don't worry: I'm ok).