I had a speech with the perfect combination of yelling and consoling ready to go if we discovered his bike was stolen, but luckily it was there, yellow, rusted and slumped over.
We passed the time with some good old fashioned Under Dogs on the swings, but it was just a tad bit too cold. So I suggested a walk over to the ice rink. Where we could see if the snack bar was open.
It was not. But the vending machines solved that little emergency. I noticed the ice was not filled with the usual Olympic hopefuls or brutish hockey kids. It was filled with Normals and I realized it was open skate day.
I looked down at Eli and asked, “Do you want to try ice skating?”
He lit up and said, “Yes! Do you know how to skate?”
I said yes and then did a quick calculation. It had been about 30 years since I had been on an ice rink. I smelled disaster.
“You know what? Maybe we shouldn’t do ice skating. I don’t think I even remember how to lace up the shoes and it’s really cold and the ice really hurts when you fall on it…”
But I could see from his face we were not getting out of this.
After paying way too much and spending way too much time getting our feet into the bladed contraptions, we made our way onto the ice.
I immediately noticed that his bright blue sweat pants matched his bright blue jacket, giving him a distinctive Brian Boitano look.
My plan was simple. Keep my hands in my pockets to approximate an air of coolness and simply lean forward to let gravity propel me around the rink.
Elijah’s plan was also simple. See how many times he could fall onto the ice.
And fall he did. I worried that I would break his wrist from trying to steady him. But he didn’t seem to notice. He simply laughed the greatest laugh in the history of the world. Neither of us minded that people were blowing by us in a blur, nor the fact that we only made it around the ice twice the whole time (it added up to $10 a trip).
Then they ordered us off the ice for the Zamboni. Eli was enthralled by the concept, the equipment, and most of all the mulleted driver. A man who attempted, but failed to ignore the wildly waving six year old in the stands. He eventually waved back, which couldn’t have been more impressive if it was Obama at the wheel.
We made it around the ice one more time and then took his bike back home. I couldn’t help but wonder if it was as thrilling as winning the 1988 Calgary Men’s Long Form.