You know, eventually, the day will come.
It’s the dead of winter. You live in a four-sport town, but your football team didn’t make the playoffs, your NBA franchise is playing for the lottery and your local hockey team seems to trot out the heroes of the Stanley Cup squad from four decades ago a little too often.
Your wife or girlfriend turns to you and utters the six words that, strung together in the proper order, bring nausea to the stomach of any red-blooded American male.
“Is there any skating on tonight?”
Your tongue is stuck to the roof of your mouth, as if with peanut butter, because without a rooting interest to guide you, you can’t rattle off a televised sports event of greater significance than a non-title bout in the junior flyweight division of the WBA. Or is it the WBO? WBC?
You’re trapped. And, since it’s Saturday night, you decide to be nice to her–for ulterior reasons.
You hand her the remote, and head for the fridge.
Wait–come back. You can learn to stomach figure skating. Really. Just follow these easy “Learn-to-Love Skating!” guidelines:
She’s Not That Into Them. You dread the thought of watching guys salchowing around in sequins and stretch pants. Don’t assume she wants to watch men, or even pairs, however. For reasons that are unclear down deep, but readily apparent on the surface, women like to watch women. You don’t watch the WNBA, do you?
Look at That Outfit! In case you only pay attention to women’s figure skating when sombody takes a tire iron to an Olympic hopeful’s shinbone, the women’s outfits leave nothing to the imagination, as the foundation undergarment industry used to say.
“The yellow caution flag is out.”
Pretend It’s NASCAR. Just as some fans go to stock car races for the crashes, and some hockey fans only get excited when there’s a fight, it’s fun to watch skating for the falls. If the networks were smart, they’d zoom in on the point where the panties hit the ice and circle it with a John Madden-model video pen to show the circumference and depth of concave impression.
ANNOUNCER #1: Looks like Maria must be wearing husky sizes now, Carol!
ANNOUNCER #2: I think she’s been gobbling down too many linzer tortes, Dick.
Katerina Witt: “Yes I was a Communist informant–so whatski?”
Pick a Villian. Pro wrestling promoters learned long ago that it takes a villain to raise the ratings. Katerina Witt was for years the Barry Bonds of women’s figure skating–unloved, even at the top of her game. If you’re the type who hates winners, rag on the current #1–here’s a link to The Best Female Figure Skaters in the World Right Now.
Irina Slutskaya: My cup of borscht.
Pick a Favorite. The flip side of picking a villain is to select a sentimental favorite–the wide-eyed, white-skated equivalent of the Cleveland Browns and the Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox before they wised up and won a World Series. You can then gush over her every toe loop. My favorite was always Irina Slutskaya; she, like me, had overcome the handicap of having a name with negative connotations. And a need to buy our clothes in the chubby children’s department.
“Michelle was robbed!”
Get Mad At the Judges. Everyone knows that skating is as crooked as boxing. When your favorite skater finishes her routine, take a deep breath as she picks up her teddy bears and long-stemmed red roses and heads to the “kiss and cry” area. Get ready to explode when the scores are announced. “Only 9.8 for artistic expression!” you scream. “She was robbed!”
Storm out of the room, check score of Australian-rules football game on the den TV. Pull a nose hair or two until your eyes water, grab a Kleenex and return sniffling to the couch.
The woman waiting for you there will give you a big hug.