We baby boomers might be only a generation away from being just about the oldest on earth … but at least that proves, we’re grown-ups! Of course some of us realize it before others do, like retired Evansville, Indiana newspaper columnist Garret Mathews, who has decided to be honest about what he can do … and what he can’t. Like, going out on the ice.
It’s public-skating time at the ice arena.
The other members of our party are expertly gliding around the rink, making racing turns and skating in reverse with their hands behind their backs.
I’m on the sidelines holding overcoats, purses, car keys, sunglasses, paperbacks, and stocking caps.
I feel like a luggage rack.
But that’s OK. At least I’m in one piece.
I watch 75-year-old men whoosh by. And 8-year-old girls. And pregnant women.
Each is smiling. Confident. And, most importantly, upright.
I am not the least bit tempted to join the ice-meisters.
Let them skate from here to Fairbanks if they want to.
I’ll take your questions.
Hey, Mathews, you’re always writing about exercise and here you are sitting it out at the rink.
Answer? That’s because I want to live.
You pitch to Pony Leaguers, Mathews. You bat off ace softball pitchers. There’s danger to that.
Answer: I can throw a ball. I can catch a ball. I can often hit a ball. And there’s one other important thing: These sports take place on solid ground. I don’t do slick surfaces.
Aw, you’ve probably never tried.
Wrongo. I skated to celebrate my sixth birthday. I fell so many times my pants froze. I cried so many times I didn’t have the energy to eat the cake.
When I returned to the ice again last year, I displayed the grace and agility of the Empire State Building. I fell more times than a 10-pin. If the Navy could have harnessed my anxiety, it could power a nuclear submarine.
What are you so afraid of?
Concussions. It takes all the brainpower I can muster just to get from one day to the next. I can’t afford any leakage.
So put on padding.
The last time I checked, the arena doesn’t rent full-body armor.
What else are you afraid of?
Ice skating is a sprained ankle waiting to happen. Some people fear the end of time. Others fear Madonna teaching parenting classes. I fear a ligament in my foot coming undone. I try to live my life in such a way that this will never happen.
Aw, I’ll bet you’ve never had a sprained ankle.
Wrongo, and I’ve suffered them as an adult when the injury is far worse. I remember one such instance in particular. While coaching 9-year-old baseball players, I demonstrated the proper technique for catching a pop fly. Earlier in the afternoon, my center-fielder was supposed to put third base in its place. He didn’t. I stepped in the hole. In seconds, I was throwing up my socks.
You’re a big baby.
Words will never hurt me.
Can you envision any scenario when you go ice skating?
When the Empire State Building flies.
Garret’s book —