Sunday, July 24, 2005

"He floats through the air with the greatest of ease
This mad inline skater; fear puts his mind in deep freeze.
Taking off feet first, he lands with a thud
Bruised, battered and bloody, his face in the mud"
Xmac (1965-? well, not for much longer if this keeps up)

If ever I thought I knew anything about inline skating, today proved to be a most humbling experience. Fine, I can roll forwards, sometimes faster, sometimes slower. I can stop on a dime with a spin and a flourish. But only on flat straight pathways like those on ECP.

Sembawang Park proved to be an unforgiving tutor with its seemingly gently rolling slopes and generally clear pathways. Then you have this mad geezer on ankle wheels thinking, "hey, no prob, I've done this before."

People know. They know it the instant they see someone on wobbly wheels. They clear the path. They grab their children, tricycles, strollers and their maids and head for high ground. Then at a safe distance, their eyes fix on the fireball careening down and through the location they had just vacated seconds ago. Seconds later, said fireball makes its inevitable impact with Planet Earth, lying there in a crumpled heap while the crater created on collision smokes silently around him.

He laughs as he picks himself up again, though internally he'd rather say, "F@*K!!!" There are children present after all.

He gets up, appraises the new damage to his person and rolls on, hoping to learn what to do the next time, but he never learns.

This event repeats itself several times in the space of maybe 20 minutes. Then finally, after muscles start cramping, lacerations start to sting and a sudden rainstorm washes the blood off the footpaths, he decides it's probably best to go home, defeated.

First off, I'm supremely grateful for the armoured protection I wore, especially my combination gloves-wrist guard. I could have had shattered my forearm on my first fall if the plastic guard hadn't been there to take the shock. I wasn't wearing elbow guards so my elbows are nicely scraped now. Hao lian, lah.

But my last fall to Earth must have been my most spectacular. I flew down a slope knowing I had to brake but muscles refused to respond to mental commands. At the bottom of the path before it slightly slopes up again was a stone bench, and I suddenly imagined the consequences of crashing into it at the speed I was going. The fear made me totally lose control and my legs went completely out from under me sending me into a double-drop kick without a target to break my fall -- except for the stone park bench. In mid-air I mentally prepared myself for impact and somehow or other landed on my butt on the footpath in front of the bench, missing it. I was afraid that I could still spin toward it but I had come to a complete stop (my guardian angel works overtime for me *silent thanks).

Maybe I should just stick to the safe but crowded pathways of ECP. Or take inline lessons. Hmmm...

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