Sunday, July 25, 2010

Buying Skates

Today (yes, actually today) is skate fitting day. K's Riedell Soft Series Skates were clearly meant for a little boy who doesn't skate as often or as hard as K does. The Velcro is curling up and around, losing its power of stick. So, I'm taking him up to the far suburb of Neverwhere, to the pro shop.

There, a kindly woman or man will measure his feet and recommend a skate that will surely unbalance my budget for the next month or so. The kindly woman or man will also speak to me with "the tone." It's not quite patronizing, as it shouldn't be because I'm paying for this, but it's also not quite friendly. It's the Skating Mom tone.

Let me explain. Let's go back to the first time I bought K skates.

After the terrible debacle of trying to get the right size skate at the rink, I determined to have K fitted for his own skates. I just didn't trust myself to size them and lace them on my own, and I was scared of my own parental ineptitude against the forces of gravity and ice.

So I did some research online and found a place that sells ice skates. Just ice skates, and just Figure Skates. I emailed, made an appointment, and off we went. (We'll go into the cost of skates and how I almost shat myself later.)

We drove up there on a warm March evening, drove into an empty and small lot, and strolled into an empty shop where a man was at a grinder.

"Hi, we're here for a skate fitting." I said nicely.

"Great, have a seat."

K and I sat down. K was in a mood. Great.

As we were waiting, another family walked in. A mom, a large dad on a cell phone, and a twiggy daughter. The Daughter sat down, and the mom went to the counter. "She needs new boots," she pointed to the quiet girl.

"Ah, okay." The man made a call, whereupon another man came out.

"Hi there, *insert name of Twiggy*" the second man greeted them. "New boots?"

They struck up a conversation about boots, one where the girl didn't speak, and soon an assortment of white boots where being tried on. The mom dominated things, and dad took multiple calls on his cell phone, excusing himself outside about every five minutes.

The first man sat down in front of K. He tried to talk to K, but K was refusing to speak for some reason. I explained that we'd just started skating, he went to the Royal Crown Cola rink, and he liked it. (You'd never know that if you saw him sitting there, unmoving and unspeaking.) I knew what it looked like. I was THAT MOM.

I listened to the conversation next to us.

Girl: Mom, I don't think I need new boots.
Mom: But Honey, you're not landing your jumps. This might help.
Girl: I just don't think...
Mom: We're already here, they're on your feet. How do they feel.
Girl: ...

The man recommended a beginner skate, a soft booted skate. He brought them out and had K walk around in them for awhile. "This will be fine for him," The man shrugged. "It's a half size too big, but just put him in some heavy socks."

Great. Room to grow in. Perfect. K was smiling now.

The other mom, the big one with the Twiggy Daughter, she noticed what was going on. "How old is he?" she asked.

"He's six. He just started," I said politely. This woman scared me.

"Oh, enjoy this!" She cooed. "This is when it's fun! He's so cute!"

This is when it's fun? When is it not fun? I looked at her daughter, who was staring down at a white boot and wriggling uncertainly. Twiggy gave me an uncomfortable, yet polite smile.

The dad came back. "Oh, skating is great," he gruffed. "She's gotten so much out of it. They learn so much. Right honey?"

Girl: ...

"And now is when you can relax and enjoy it," Mom continued.

"Well, I'll remember that," I tried to politely wind this conversation down.

The clerk was sharpening K's skates, and I was now anxious to leave. I glanced around at the walls. "Do we need," I pointed to the weird blade guards.

"Nah, you don't need that stuff," the clerk said dismissively. "You could get a soaker if you wanted to, but you can just throw a towel in the bottom of the bag."

Somehow I got the feeling that these people didn't expect to see us again. K was getting tired and now back in a mood. Well, I could never accuse them of upselling.

We left, new skates in hand. Twiggy and her mom were still arguing about boots, and mom was saying that she liked the trophies, not the medals. I gunned the engine.

Back to today. I'm wondering what they'll say today. And I wonder how I'll feel about it. Will we get the same dismissive attitude, or will I be sold the light up blade guards?

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