Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: Like a Fish Out of Water( 10/24/13)
Goofy Footed on the Bunny Slope
By Francy Judge
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Careful what you wish for…it might not fit. At age twelve, I wished I could hang-glide and skateboard. Knowing Mom/Dad wouldn’t go for the hang-gliding, crashing-into-a-mountain idea, a new skateboard topped my Christmas list.
Dad’s portable radio was set on the twenty-four hours of uninterrupted Christmas music channel. Jingle bells danced in my head. But it wasn’t music keeping me awake—just the hopeful sound of wrapping paper crunching and possibly wheels turning on a new skateboard. My dream present.
As soon as the slightest sliver of orange lined the horizon, I darted to my sister’s bedside. “Wake up, Laur! It’s Christmas!” She popped out of bed like our old Jack in the box—fast with a bit of morning squeak to her voice.
“Let’s wake ‘em! I hope I get a baton.”
The scent of candy canes and steaming coffee smelled like Christmas, like I might get that skateboard.
I opened colorful sweaters, a pair of earrings, and an art kit, but no big rectangles.
Then mom hinted, “I think you both have one more gift hidden in this room.” With our hope rekindled, we dashed around the living room until we found our gifts. Laurie twirled her new baton, and I skated down the hall on my new skateboard. We declared this the best Christmas ever.
Time to learn…
In 1980, skate parks weren’t everywhere; Dad found one forty-five minutes away and signed me up for lessons. He warned me the place might be intimidating.
The skatepark smelled like old tires and grilled hot dogs. I don’t know what I expected at a skatepark—girls wearing tutus? This was a boy’s playground--boys in band t-shirts and jeans. We were early, so I watched the kids skate up the ramp, twist and turn, and zoom back into it. I wanted to do that. It looked easy and scary…like the high diving board that didn’t look too high until I stood overlooking the water and shivering in my bikini.
The skate park sounded like a thunderstorm during a concert. Dad looked at me with his mouth moving. “What?”
I nodded yes, the wrong answer.
The instructor, Matt, about eighteen, squeezed a tight helmet on my head. I felt like a pre-school student on her first day. His wavy black hair skimmed his shoulders. Dark eyes. Cute smile. And he could skate. I was sure I was ready for the big ramp, but Matt brought me to the mini-ramp, the bunny slope of the skate park. I stepped on my board, ready to push up the incline…
He smiled or was it a smirk? “So you’re goofy footed?”
“I’m what?” Aside from red as a radish, did I look as silly as a cartoon?
“You start with your right foot forward.”
“Oh, yeah, I do have goofy feet.” I knew that.
He laughed. I melted like a shrinky-dink.
“So what do you want to learn? How to drop into the half-pipe? Kick-turn or do a fakie?”
I stared at him. Totally blank. Do skaters speak another language? “I want to skate on that ramp and learn how to turn.”
“It’s called the half-pipe; and you kick-turn like that guy’s doing. Watch him. Or do a fakie, switching lead foot without a turn.”
He demonstrated a kick-turn a few times and left me to practice. So I practiced and fell, practiced and fell, practiced and fell, while Matt talked with the only other girl there, the cute redhead selling hotdogs.
Where were all the beginners? Am I the only one with a sore bottom? Are they all born with the ability to kick-turn? Where are the girls? The expression “fish out of water” came to mind. I wanted to turn around and swim back to my little pond, practice skating down my driveway with only my cat to watch me fall.
Time for truth…
I’d like to tell you I met the challenge, stuck it out, was the first girl to skate the half-pipe; I broke my arm, but didn’t give up, so you could cheer: “Good for her.” And cry tears of joy. But the truth is I quit, said: “No way am I going back there. Please don’t make me.”
Thank God I have a nice daddy who didn’t want me to break any bones; he was happy to hammer two nails in the garage to hang my pretty skateboard right next to the pogo-stick I got last Christmas.
Time for a new dream.
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