The Olympics take place next month. What’s your favorite sport to watch? Mine is figure skating.
My own skating skills are laughable. I don’t even know how to stop. I haven’t skated in many years, with good reason.
When I was five, a depression in our front yard made a lovely ice rink. One Saturday after Christmas, my older sister and I were skating when our dad came home. “Come skate with us,” we cried.
Before he had a chance to put on his skates, my sister ran into the house. “Terri fell!”
I don’t remember the fall or the immediate aftermath. I do remember sitting on the bench seat inside the back door, my parents looking in my mouth, my mom trying to reach our dentist. He was at a wedding.
Leaving my sister and younger brother with our next-door neighbor, my parents took me to St. Vincent Hospital. X-rays revealed my jaw was not broken. Another dentist, Dr. Krause, performed oral surgery, wiring my teeth and stitching my gum.
Before learning I would not have to stay overnight, my dad went home to take my siblings to our grandparents’ house. He brought back to the hospital a much-loved Christmas gift, my Chatty Cathy.
I remember a nun coming into the room where I sat, clutching my talkative doll. Her eyes opened wide in wonder. “Who do we have here?” I’m sure her expression was exaggerated to amuse and distract a frightened child.
I did go home that night. And when school reopened after the holiday, I went off to kindergarten with a note for my teacher, requesting special consideration for my battered mouth. I remember the teacher inspecting the dentist’s handiwork. And then the principal. They phoned my mom to come and get me. The school didn’t want responsibility for me.
For years afterward, driving past Dr. Krause’s office haunted me. I still remember sitting in his dental chair while he removed bits of wire and thread and dropping them on the paper bib fastened around my neck.
Figure skaters take innumerable tumbles. They suffer injuries worse than mine. When they stand on the podium with their shiny medals, what price did they pay in blood and tears? Their dedication and perseverance is admirable.
But skating is not for me. That ice is too hard and slippery.