Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Of Ice and Mates.

I was already waiting at the Kelana Jaya LRT station just before nine o’clock. Needless to say, I was the earliest person to arrive. We were supposed to meet at nine, and my classmates were actually pretty early by Malaysian standards, arriving between nine fifteen to nine thirty. My actual fear was that they’d stand me up so I was pretty relieved when I received various phone calls informing me of their whereabouts.

I’m touched. Yet again, proof that my classmates are wonderful people who truly accept me as a friend. All those simple gestures that others take for granted do not escape me because of…my past experiences. People might think I get a little emo if they knew how easily touched I am, yet they don’t know how hard, how lonely it is to have had no friends. I still remember the instant a classmate of mine poked his head into the staffroom and said casually, “Oh, hi, Michelle. I thought I’d find you here.” Tears of gratitude had welled up in my eyes at his friendly words, though I did not let them fall. It was the knowledge that someone did not despise me or walk away but instead came for me and bestowed upon me a simple smile. TAR College was one of the first bits of warmth I had ever received.

Finally, my friends turned up. Four girls – the four ‘M’s! – Mei Ping (red), Maia (black), Min Yunn (green), Me (blue), and two guys, Chin Xin (black), Jeff (grey). Unfortunately, Ichiro, Ken Wey and Chris did not turn up, though they were supposed to be there. The colour of our clothes that I’d put in brackets above gave me a déjà vu feeling – very DB-like.

The bus was just about to leave when we made our way to the bus stop so the six of us hopped on happily, Maia complaining about hunger and threatening to murder at least one of us. We had brunch upon arrival at Sunway at Long John Silver’s before setting foot in the ice-skating rink.

I’ve always liked the feel of the cold air brushing her icy fingers across my face, even back then when I couldn’t skate for toffee. Perhaps I have an affinity for snow and all things ice. It is ironic how I’m easily affected by the cold, actually. I suppose that’s why I’m “of fire” as well as “of snow”.

Due to not having ice-skated in quite some time, I was a little nervous as I stepped unto the ice. Gingerly but surely, I placed a foot firmly upon the cold, frozen waters. It was as if I’d been skating all my life, although I could barely ice-stumble just months ago. It felt so easy, so natural…my balance was so firm I really found it hard to believe that earlier this year, I was slipping all over the place and telling anyone who would listen that I would never, never be a decent skater. Bad as I generally am at sports, I never thought I could have learnt how to skate in such a short time – that proves how easy ice-skating actually is. Hey, if I, the World Champion Sports Loser can do it…

Chin Xin, Jeff and I were fair skaters (Trust me to be to be grouped under the “guys”), so it was up to us to teach the others. Maia could hold her own, so our jobs were mainly to look after Mei Ping and Min Yunn in turns. Two of us would guide and the third would be free to skate about.

I like “teaching” people the basics of ice-skating. It helps me improve my own skills as everything has to be Perfect with a capital letter or the “students” would be a terribly misguided bunch. Teaching them how to get into the rhythm helps ME to be more guarded about my steps and be more graceful. I do have a tendency to lapse into clumsy skating and I have a weak right lead. Once upon a time, I used to skate like a lame duck. As a matter of fact, I still do occasionally, when I forget and favour my left leg.

Just when I was guiding Mei Ping, a girl bumped into my poor friend, who fell against me and in turn made me twist my right ankle momentarily, though I managed to remain standing because of my firm balance. I looked up indignantly at the retreating back of the offender who didn’t even seem to have notice what had happened before turning to Mei Ping. My companion was not so fortunate and was sitting on the ice with an anguished look on her face. Despite my best efforts, the poor girl couldn’t stand. By this time, Jeff and a rink guard had already arrived and they helped her out of the rink. I was asked to identify the rude and dangerous skater and I described her at length to the rink guard.

Mei Ping turned out to have dislocated her knee cap and twisted her ankle. Maia was so angry she sought out the culprit and demanded an apology. Well, the offender had the guts to deny she’d bumped into my friend. She admitted to “passing by” but not bumping into her. Of all the nonsense! I’ve guided many newbies in my day and I know the difference between my wards falling down of their own accord in comparison to being bumped. Besides, there was my brief ankle twist to be reckoned for. Only a very hard knock into my ward would have made me stagger in such a fashion. If my ward had slipped on her own, I would have either have fallen with her or remained standing, not doing an impromptu ankle twist!

The culprit also claimed that she was a newbie to if she had bumped into Mei Ping, she would surely have fallen herself. Rubbish. I told her flatly that that people do not necessarily fall over after bumping into others and left it at that for she was being stubborn and refused to apologise. Is it that hard to say “I’m sorry?” Of course, my classmates and I were rather annoyed at the girl’s behaviour.

After a while, Mei Ping claimed that she felt better and told us to continue skating. There was no reason for the five of us to sit there and watch a bruise form, after all. We bade her to be very careful and yell if it continued to hurt before we went back to skate.

By this time, Min Yunn had already grasped a little of Ice-skating 101 (told you ice-skating was easy as long as you have a guide) so the three “teachers” took a break and we convened in the middle of the rink. Spotting the obnoxious skater who was skating dangerously around the rink at top speed again despite being inexperienced, we decided to harass her a little. The three of us skated around her side like hawks circling their prey. As she knew quite well we were Mei Ping’s friends, we hoped she felt pretty pressured and stressed then. We were not breaking any rules, nor did we harm her. All we did was skate in her vicinity…skate a little too close for comfort. Quite mischievous of us, I know.

She decided to hold onto her friend’s hand next. Jeff flew past them into a small space and ducked, coming out intact. The inexperienced girls shrieked and went down in a noisy tangle of limbs. Chin Xin, Jeff and I met the centre of the rink, giggling like naughty school children.

Chin Xin then proposed a game of Tag and left no room for objections by poking Jeff’s arm and speeding away. Jeff gave chase and soon, the three of us were engaged in a very exhilarating game of Ice Tag. My feet glided swiftly as I weaved in and out of the crowd, for once, not afraid to fly. Indeed, it was the closest thing to flying. The chilly air was as refreshing as a spring tonic as it whipped against my face. It was a beautiful and enchanting moment.

Mei Ping rejoined us later as she felt better, a little scared of people bumping into her but none the worse for her experience. I brought her into the centre, where only the professionals skated – they could certainly be trusted to swerve or brake in time. Ironic, I know, but hey, my theory worked for not another person contrived to bump into my friend after that.

After our ice-skating session, it was decided that we were to have dinner and watch a movie. The girls went shopping (I gladly included myself among the guys) and we had talks on various interesting topics while we waited for the girls. Dinner was at a hawker centre near The One Academy, consisting of extremely expensive drinks as well as a very rude maidservant who cheeked Jeff and I when we enquired about our food.

At about six forty-five, we settled down in Sunway’s TGV to watch the movie “The Kingdom”.

Not quite my usual taste, but it was quite interesting if you could manage to pay sufficient attention. I almost fell asleep in the middle of the movie (no, it wasn’t that boring, I was just exhausted!) but I managed to stay awake by snitching a couple of sips from a classmate’s drink. Some of the lines are quite amusing :

“If he offers to let you hold his pleasure, do not flinch. It ees an honour.”

The next scene shows a very relieved man holding a hawk carefully.

“Come, I take you to catch the beeg dog.”

“You mean the big fish.”

“… A dog is beegger than a fish.”

*Astonished expression accompanied with wild gestures to show size of ‘dog’ and ‘fish’*

“…Well don’t ask me, I didn’t create that idiom.”

“You vatch Sixty Million Dollar Man?”

“Oh yeah! That’s my shit!”

“…Vat, you need to go to the bathroom? Vee could…”

“No, no, no.”

“If you vant, vee could…”


I’m not quite certain of the time I arrived home – I was feeling quite feverish by then. The “customary morning cold” I had when I woke up in the morning had turned out not to be quite so customary after all and I ended up walking about all day with a red nose as I laughed and joked with my classmates. It was probably about ten o’clock when I arrived at the Ampang Park LRT station. I was quite, quite glad to sink into the front seat of my mother’s car then for I’d called ahead and asked her to pick me up.

Thank you all for a wonderful day, people. Friends are just marvellous things to have.

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