Learning to fall
I hate to brag but two weeks ago I proved that I’ve still got it.
“It” is athletic ability.
Or at least I thought so until a week later when I realized my brief moment of athletic enlightenment may have been a fluke. We’ll slip into made-for-TV movie mode for the story, though.
In order for that, you have to close your eyes and imagine a black screen with the white lettering reading “Two weeks earlier” and some cheesy John Tesh song playing.
Tesh fades out and the black screen opens into a scene … I’m hopping off the bus with the football team the day before its playoff game against Pueblo County. The team stops in Colorado Springs Friday for a quick practice the day before the game.
I’m at the practice minding my own business when one of the reserve tight ends hands me his helmet and tells me to go in for a play (this is the more dramatic made-for-TV version, realistically I was begging for them to let me slip in for a play).
Coach Matt Ray is playing quarterback and tells me to “go long.” I line up in the slot, fake right, and streak down the middle of the field, as I look up the ball falls within my reach. I extend, catch the ball and run untouched to the end zone.
Being the cool and collected guy that I am, I pretend the play is nothing and walk the ball back to the huddle. With the magic of modern TV effects, the audience hears me think, “Man I am good. I should have played football instead of cross country in high school and college, I AM GOOD!”
Fade to black screen and John Tesh and the white lettering reading “One week later” pops up …
I’m driving to the Learn to Skate clinic at the Loudy-Simpson Ice Arena still secretly basking in the glory of my catch.
I meet with the president of the Craig Youth Hockey Association Mike Boatright, who also is in charge of the clinic. He looks at me and says, “The best way to cover this is to experience it yourself.”
After a couple of minutes, I decide he is right and slip into some gear knowing that I haven’t skated for four years. A flashback comes on the screen going back to the last time I skated with my girlfriend and she is practically peeing her pants because I keep falling so much … fade back to the present …
With my first step on the ice, the viewers at home can see I’m in trouble. I look about as in control of my body as a newborn deer with each leg going in the opposite direction.
After regaining my balance, I attempt to go through the drills with other adults my age who are supposed to be “learning to skate” more like “learning to make beginners look like crazy fools on the ice.” The other four in my group all skate backward, stop on a dime and shoot the puck without falling down. Meanwhile, I’m on the side trying to figure out how in the world to make a “C” with my skate so I can move just one inch in reverse.
By the end of the night, I’ve fallen so much that the hockey pants I borrowed had ripped all the way from the right knee to the crotch.
As I walk out of the ice arena, I look at the marquee that reads Loudy-Simpson Complex “Learn to Skate begins tonight.” The effects kick in and the sign changes to “Loudy-Simpson Comedy Club David Pressgrove on the Ice tonight.”
As the movie comes to an end, the protagonist is losing any hope that he isn’t a washed-up athlete. The challenge of learning to skate has turned into learning to fall gracefully.
David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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