I recently found myself in the Big Apple: New York, New York. It was my first visit. While I was enjoying my time in the five boroughs, I couldn't help but compare my experiences to those at home.
Yeah, I can't get a falafel at 3:30am on a Saturday morning in Tulsa. But, I'm not paying thousands of dollars each month to rent an apartment the size of a thimble. Good thing, too, because then I wouldn't be able to afford the falafel.
No, I can't take the subway to Rockefeller Center. But, I also rarely--okay, never--have to worry about cramming 50 people into the car. Not so on the subway. That's a good thing, because I can only put up with having other people's faces in my armpit for five to ten minutes.
And, there is no need to fret about getting yelled at for good ole fashion Green Country indecision on a walk about Brookside. No maps, no taking the subway the wrong way, no faux Rolexes.
Before I left, a friend suggested I visit the aforementioned Rockefeller Center and take a spin around The Rink there. I'd never been ice skating, so I thought it was a fair idea, albeit a precarious one.
He added, "New York City's version of an ice rink is like a living room. Ours is more of a coffee table." Which may seem true to the eye, but the numbers suggest the two rinks are closer in size (NY - 59 by 122 ft., to Tulsa -- 50 by 100 ft.).
It's important to mention here that nearly everything either frightens or intimidates me.
As a pre-teen, I attempted roller skating. In a garage. With support beams. Yeah, I hit the support beam and the floor. It was a painfully traumatic experience. Thus, I'm not much for skating.
Factor in that I'm more of a warm weather fan, and I hate being the center of negative attention (i.e. repeated falling), and anytime I see an ice skate I can only envision it puncturing my leg, and I've got the perfect excuse to "just stand over here and watch" while others skate.
"Yeah, it does look like a lot of fun."
Cristi, with map in hand, led us past NBC Studios and a celebrity. As we approached the famous center -- home of the rink and the tree, we were feeling a certain bond to others around us. We were all tourists. Cameras and craned necks.
We were, in the eyes of the majority of New Yorkers, thousands of obnoxious, bumbling fools. This was our mecca.
It was a rainy, windy, cold day, but our numbers were strong. Even at $19 to skate, there were many people on the ice, but far from the 150 maximum capacity. There were more following my lead and watching, but the rink was lively.
I convinced myself that $19 was too much to spend on my first ice skating adventure (that and the thousands of onlookers didn't help), so I focused on a young version of Brian Boitano, the 1988 Olympic figure skating gold medalist, who was circling the amateurs on the ice.
Give me 30 years of skating five hours a day and I'd be right there, I thought.
New York's ice rink opened on Christmas Day 1936, more than 70 years before its smaller relative in Tulsa.
Tulsa's Winterfest 2008 Arvest Ice Rink (www.bokcenter.com) opened on November 30. Its season may not be as long as Rockefeller Center's or its walls as ridden with tourists, but skaters seem to be having as much fun or discomfort, dependant upon their ability.
Back in Tulsa, Cristi and I made it to the rink on a bitingly gloomy evening. Schools had been canceled for the day, so turnout at the rink was below what I expected. I was, however, pleasantly reminded of the holiday season by the lit trees along the street and the larger, Rockefeller-like replica adjacent to the rink. At 35 feet tall, the tree, decorated with more than 25,000 lights, is Oklahoma's largest outdoor holiday tree.
In our approach to the rink, located at the corner of Third Street and Frisco Avenue, we did some skating on the sidewalk. It was covered with ice, and it got my heart racing. Again, falling doesn't interest me.
Oh boy, this is going to end with me on the ground, I thought. I escaped unscathed.
I assessed the rink. I prefer mulling over new, anxiety-causing experiences before I attempt them, so I walked around the perimeter of the facility. I observed children a quarter of my age artfully mastering the rink. I snapped some photos.
I was ready. But, then I saw the food. Another distraction! The three vendors, including Ike's Chili, Kapuccino's Coffee and Tea, and the catering company of the BOK Center itself, were setup around the rink offering everything from nachos to chai lattes to chili, of course.
"Hey, how about a hot cider, babe?" I asked Cristi. She was ready to depart, so my procrastination did not sit well with her. Her eyes tacitly threatened to return to the car without me, so I abandoned the idea.
I inquired about renting skates. At $8 ($5 if you bring your own skates), skating in Tulsa is much more affordable than New York City.
"No, the largest size we have is a 13." Wait, what? I thought.
"You just let me off the hook," I told the young lady at the rental booth.
There'd be no bruises on my body the next day! But, eventually, I'll have to go through the unnecessary worrying over skating on ice again.
An added bonus was that if I had rented the skates and taken to the ice I would have been joined by professional hockey players. You might think meeting professional athletes would be exciting. I do, too. But, I'd prefer not to meet them with a lacerated leg or, more likely, during a tumble or series of tumbles. The night of our visit to the rink was "Skate with the Oilers" night, Tuesday, December 16. It's one of the many special events planned to draw people to downtown.
The Winterfest 2008 with the rink, open on weekdays from 4pm to 10pm and on the weekends from noon until 10pm; tree, and horse-drawn carriage rides continue through December 31.
But, if you're craving a falafel, you'll have to bring one with you.
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