Chapter 4: Being Bambi

(The Hockey Bag series was previously published on NHL.com)

So I got new skates. In fact, I got new everything (thanks Easton!) in preparation for my inaugural hockey season – pants, shoulder pads, elbow pads, shin pads, and gloves. Even a nice new hockey bag to put it all in, with wheels on one end so I can roll it around.

It’s all top-of-the-line Easton gear that will presumably help me become a good hockey player. But until that happens, at least I’ll look like one. After all, perception is 9/10ths of the law. Or maybe that’s possession…

Either way, I now possess brand new hockey gear, and the perception is out there that I know what I’m doing. At least that was the perception before my latest powerskating class.

My new skates are called Easton Stealth – a name which conjures up the image of something moving fast. At least in my mind. And I did sort of used to move fast. At least in my mind.

But now that I have new skates on my feet, I’m pretty much feeling like Bambi-on-ice. And looking about as graceful as Bambi-on-ice, too. Not only in my mind, but also in plain sight of all the parents who come to watch their children skate in the Dragon Lady’s Dynamic Power class.

Surely they must be wondering, who is that big kid at the end of the line? Poor kid, can barely keep up… And then when they get a closer look, they realize that I’m not a kid. In fact, I’m as old as most of them are. At which point they must go, wow, that must take guts to go out there and skate like that. Poor lady, can barely keep up…

During the hour-long session, surely they laugh amongst themselves. Of course I can’t be certain because as soon as we start skating the sweat starts running into my eyes and blurring my contact lenses. So what I can’t see generally doesn’t hurt me. Except, of course, when I fall over it.

Regardless, I find myself laughing most of the time, too. Only because swearing wouldn’t set a very good example for my young skate-mates. And crying, well, that would blur my vision even more. So instead, laughter really is the best (and only) medicine.

Which means, when I fall trying to perform a simple pivot from forwards-to-backwards, I laugh. When my new blades stutter uncontrollably when trying to stop, I have to laugh. When I fumble in trying to pick up a hockey stick lying on the blue line with hockey-gloved hands while in motion, I just gotta laugh. (Okay, THAT is HARDER than you’d think!) When I find myself ALWAYS finishing last in EVERY single drill, I can’t help but laugh.

Even when my feet start to ache from trying to break in brand new skates during one intensive hour of power, the laughter continues. Despite the throbbing pain and stubborn pride while shamelessly trying to keep up with the pack, I find solace in knowing these new skates and better-fitting equipment will eventually make me a better skater. And better hockey player.

So for now, being Bambi it is.

Until that glorious day when Bambi is banished from the ice forever, and RoseAnna the Dynamic Power dynamo will be able to beat at least one kid in her class. Maybe even one of the big ones.

Yes, one day I will proudly live up to the name of my new Stealth skates. But until that happens, at the very least, I feel safe and secure in my new hockey gear. Not to mention extremely well protected.

Not only from the falls, but also from the laughter.

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