I’ve figured out a great way to form lasting friendships: Go ice skating. This is especially successful if you don’t know how to ice skate in the first place. After all, it’s practically impossible to remain dignified or reserved if you have little or no skating experience. After the people you go skating with haul you around the ice while you grip their hands and repeat, “Ohmygod, ohmygod, ohmygod,” after they see you fall on your ass a bajillion times, after they laugh at you and take photos of you falling on your ass and then good-naturedly haul you back up to stand on slippery ice in shaky skates, there’s really no way to keep those guards up. You’re practically forced to build lasting friendships this way. After all, don’t forget, they still have those incriminating photos of you falling on your ass, you know.
Went ice skating with the halaqa crew a couple days ago. This was my second time, the first time being three years ago. Not that I retained any skills from the first time anyway. The first ten minutes were spent holding tightly to either S or M’s hands and gingerly gliding along behind them as they hauled me around the rink. After we went down the rink once, S turned around and led me down in the opposite direction. “Oh my God,” I screamed, as we whizzed through a streaming mass of skaters, “we’re going against oncoming traffic!” She couldn’t stop laughing at me. F was involved in holding onto the wall and mumbling, “Ohmygod, ohmygod…” M patiently responded with, “Ya Allah…,” while I was far more occupied with frowning at the ice and muttering, “Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit.” I’m a great role model, what can I say.
I refused to lift my feet at first, because I was afraid I would fall. Needless to say, I fell on my ass several times anyway. “Oh, I get it!” I said excitedly to M, after the first fall. “If you fall on your ass, it’s not so painful, really.” I condescendingly patted F on the shoulder and advised, “Falling doesn’t even hurt. You just need to go ahead and fall the first time and get over it.” Served me right for my overconfidence, then, that when I fell the second time, it was hard enough that I got the breath knocked out of me. That was right before I started laughing and the girls crowded around to laugh and take photos. Later, when I had decided that taking cautious, tentative steps on my own was more useful than holding on to people, I made a halting, solo trip around the rink. I got better at it after a while, too. I made funny faces at all the little kids, cautiously dodged the parents, and enviously watched the 5-year-olds who whizzed by like pros. Jerks.
I was admiring the jeans of the girl in front of me – made up of light- and dark-blue patches – and thinking, “Hey, that’s cool, I want a pair like that!” when I fell again. Along came the good ol’ halaqa crew to my rescue, once again. In the resulting confusion as they tried to haul me back up, a couple more girls fell. My sister laughed and remarked, “It takes a halaqa.” I laughed, too. “I’m going to write a book,” I said. “Forget It Takes a Village. This one’s going to be called, It Takes a Halaqa.” I’m amusing, I know.
The best part, by far, was when we wrangled a bucket from somewhere, turned it upside down, and zoomed around the skating rink. M pushed me over the ice while I hunched my shoulders, laughed helplessly and held on to the bucket for dear life. After one turn around, she stopped and looked at me questioningly. “Let’s do it again!” I said. So we did. Fun times, yo.
I’ve been paying for all those falls though. Me, I don’t even know how to sit down correctly – sitting like a lady, as more proper people would call it. This is actually a problem, I’ve realized over the past couple of days. Every time I fling myself into a chair or sofa or the front seat of my car, my butt hurts, and my leg muscles cramp up. And rotating my arms and shoulders to wrap my hijab around my head in the mornings is semi-painful, too. But it was all well-worth it, don’t worry.
This is what M had to say about our day:
Doughnuts from Albertsons: $4Sometimes I can’t believe I’m at least 5 years older than some of these girls.
Getting into Iceland: $7
Renting skates: $3
Pushing a giggling Yasmine on the ice while she sits on a bucket: Priceless
And just re-reading how many times I’ve used the word “ass” in this post is making me giggle, too. Looks like my inner preschooler tendencies are alive and well. Then again, I would hope preschoolers had a better vocabulary than that. Based on my own experiences with them, preschoolers are far more amused by the word “underwear” anyway. Smart kids.