Seasonal Differences

My skates, with their badass skull-and-crossbones blade covers.
My skates, with their badass skull-and-crossbones blade covers.

I’ve been taking ice skating lessons for nearly six months now – two sessions of basics and one session of hockey skating – and have noticed a huge difference in how people react to seeing my skates as the weather has changed.

In the summer, people really wanted to talk to me – they were curious about why I was carting ice skates around on a hundred-degree day. Wanted to know where I went skating.* Asked why I had hockey skates instead of figure skates. (Ah, gender norms!) Now that it’s winter, however, not one person has said anything directly, but several times, I’ve heard people start chatting about skating when they caught sight of me.

“Do you know how to skate?”
“Not really. I’ve tried, but…”

“Wow! I haven’t been ice skating since I was a kid!”
“Me neither. We should go!”

“Have you heard that at the zoo they’ve got some kind of surface you can ice skate on that isn’t really ice?”
“What? What is it?”
“I don’t know…”

(I don’t know either, but I’m looking forward to giving “the world’s best eco-friendly synthetic ice skating surface” a try.)

So, ice skates are clearly a conversation starter – but with whom is a very different matter. I’m not sure why I find this to be so interesting, but I do. To be honest, I’ve preferred people’s winter approach, since I tend to be shy with strangers, but I did find people’s excitement over the incongruity of summer skating to be fun.


* Telling people where I skate has shown me that, despite living in the DC area for almost 14 years, I haven’t lost my New York accent completely. Every conversation went pretty much like this:

Stranger: So, where do you skate?

Me: At the rink above the Ballston Mall where the Caps practice.

Stranger: Where?

Me: At the Ballston Mall.

Stranger: Where’s that?

Me: In Arlington.

Stranger: [blank stare]

Me: Virginia?

Stranger: [blank stare]

Me: On the orange line?

Stranger: Oh! The Ballston Mall!

Me: Uh, yeah.

Inside my head: That’s what I said, dammit!

After this happened a couple of times, I related these convos to a friend who is a DC native. She told me the problem was that I pronounce it “Bawlston” and not “Ballllllllston.” I can’t even begin to make that much of an “L” sound, so I guess Ballston will have to join coffee on the list of words that I will  never pronounce in a suitably southern way. Oh well!

9 thoughts on “Seasonal Differences

  1. sprite December 15, 2011 / 3:22 pm

    My grandmother has lived in this country for 65 years now and although her accent has mostly faded, she still pronounces certain words in an English fashion. Thus a shopping “mawl” is her “maal” and Houston will be “How-stun” whether it’s in Texas or in NYC. And when we tease her about it, she definitely goes over-the-top British with her take on our pronunciations.

    Of course, when we were talking about Iceland’s geothermic attractions, and she started asking if we were going to see “geezers” erupt, that just about did me in. I told her under no circumstance would that be happening!

    So, rest assured, you’ll be misunderstood down her for decades to come still, possibly even by your nearest and dearest Southern-born family.

  2. Common loon December 15, 2011 / 3:28 pm

    I believe the “gender norms” you have experienced may be more a reflection of where you live. I’m pretty confident that would not happen here…in fact, you would likely be embarrassed to be caught carrying figure skates. I’m not used to seeing skates that look so “new,” and I’m curious why no yellow laces?

  3. Eileen December 15, 2011 / 4:51 pm

    Those skates are pretty bad ass looking. I’d want to put pink laces with stars or something on them or maybe pom poms, but I’m pretty sure that’d ruin them 😉

    Happy skating.

  4. susan December 15, 2011 / 10:26 pm

    How are you supposed to say ‘coffee’ in a suitably southern way?

  5. Shannon December 16, 2011 / 8:51 am

    I figured that was the problem….I knew immediately that a woman working at my credit union wasn’t from around here when she said “Coe-hoes” instead of “Cuh-hoes”, I am also amused when I hear “Al-bany” instead of “Awl-bany”

    Did you tell the woman that up here in New York we have a Ballston Spa that we pronounce differently?

    And those skates are badass. Makes my figure skates look wimpy.

  6. Mom December 16, 2011 / 5:50 pm

    Still sure you wanna encase those “babies” in a tote???? You’ll lose your conversation starters 🙂

  7. Mom December 16, 2011 / 5:55 pm

    Oh,and, I love it when other than “native- tonians” try to pronounce the likes of “Susquehanna”, “Chemung”, “Schuyler”, “Otsego”, “Canandaigua”, “Chautauqua” — Native American to the northeast!

  8. Common loon December 16, 2011 / 7:24 pm

    DH wants to know if the skates were molded to your feet?

    Nephew wants you to come skate with him (if you did then we could field a team…pond hockey tourney is in Feb, jamoboree is in March).

    @ Mom what about the “Monongahela” or “Youghlogheny?”

    • Sarah December 19, 2011 / 1:54 pm

      Nope; my skates are, in fact, quite ill-fitting. Narrow heels are apparently not accounted for in hockey skate sizing. Sigh.

      I don’t know if I am tough(or crazy?) enough to come to Minnesota in February or March, but I’ll think about it. Pretty sure J would be disappointed in my skating skills, anyway.

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