Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sledding for Grown-ups

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Contrary to popular belief and my own intermittent proclamations, I am a grown-up.  I am married, I have lived in New York for over ten years, I pay all my bills on time, and I only rarely cry to mommy and daddy for help on one matter or another.  So, when my friend Brittany asked me to go sledding with her in Central Park, I was a little hesitant to accept the invitation.  I mean, do they even make sleds big enough for my ass?  Though, when she mentioned that we would be bringing her one-year-old little cherub, Max, I responded with a resounding affirmative.  I got it.  We would go and watch the kids sled.  Sweet.

So, after baking and ingesting obscene amounts of Brittany's brilliant mixed berry chocolate scones, we bundled ourselves and Max and headed over, sled in tow, to Central Park.  Now since, as I said, I'm an adult, I am not privy to the Zagat-rated sledding hang-outs in the city.  Apparently, there is a section on the west side of the park near 64th street that folks refer to as, simply, "The Hill" and word on the street is it's the sledding equivalent of Per Se.  And our other sledding cohort, Tiffany, as I was quickly finding out, was a veritable sledding pro, so we trekked to The Hill to join in the winter festivities.

Okay, it took a while to make and eat the scones.  And we had to catch up beforehand, so it was a little late when we got to the park.  And by a little late, I mean . . . practically dark.  There was still one lingering adorable little family there when we got there, though, making good use of an old fashioned runner sled.  As we picked our way through the gates, a boy of about five was taking a fairly speedy head-first slide down the slope while his rosy-cheeked Eastern European mother videotaped.  Cute.  I surveyed the situation.  Big hill: check.  Trees to dodge around . . . check.  Luckily, though, someone had placed large bales of hay in front of the most prominent timber so as to buffer any errant young ones barreling toward it at a quick pace.  That was all well and good, but as we stepped off the sidewalk, I realized why The Hill had less reservations than Per Se on this particular evening.  It was covered in ice.  Tiffany gingerly stepped onto the innocuous-looking white stuff in her grey knee-length fur-lined fabulous boots and skidded not unlike Bambi for a good half minute.  "Holy crap, you guys, this is slick!"  I held on to a nearby tree to keep from skidding while I put down my bag.  Yes, it was.  Really slick.  "This will be a fast run", said Brittany.  What?!?!?  Why in the world had I done this as a kid?  This sledding crap is dangerous!!!!  What if I were to have fallen off?  Or run into a tree?  Or run into someone else?  I could have broken something!  (Someone check my birth certificate - I think I just became everyone's mother circa 1980).

I struggled to stand.  All right, let's put this kid on a sled, send him down, and go eat more scones.  Wait.  I looked at Max all snuggled up in his snowsuit.  He couldn't do this by himself.  (Dude, whatever, I don't have one, I don't know about them.  Do you know how to work my Kindle if you don't have one?  No.  I didn't think so.)  So, Brittany hopped on the sled, put Max on her lap, and headed down the steep incline.  I was genuinely scared for them both.  Seriously, when did I become such a pu#!y?  Regardless of my inhibitions, they pushed off and sailed to the bottom in a mess of "whee" and giggles and managed to avoid all trees, humans, and other objects that could cause them harm.  Okay.  All good.  Here came the hard part, though.  Getting back UP the hill.  Brittany gathered her sled and her offspring, trudged about two steps, and slid.  Not so cool when you're toting a kid.  I decided to head down to grab the sled so she could concentrate on holding on to Max.  Yeah . . . You know when there is somebody drowning and they say to throw them a rope instead of jumping in the water WITH them?  So that then there aren't two people drowning instead of one?  Well, I apparently forgot that rule.  So, I slid down slowly on my ass, trying not to scrape the butt of my new AG jeans and ended up S.O.L. at the bottom of Mount Kilaman-ice-o just like Brittany.  Good job, Michelle.  Eventually, it appeared that the most efficient way of scaling said Hill was to kick a hole in the ice, step into it, and then kick one above it, etc.  We got the hang of it and finally joined Tiffany at the top of the hill who was, incidentally, still slipping on an average of about once per minute.

"Who wants to go next?", Tiffany blurted.  I looked aghast.  What?  Wasn't that enough?  Brittany wisely decided we shouldn't take Max down again, but Tiffany, in her little designer boots and newborn deer legs wanted to attempt this?  For fun?  Well, I figured that was her prerogative.  She hopped on and slid down while lassoing some imaginary polar bear, yelling "yee haw", and proving her sledding prowess.  When she reached the top, she handed the sled to me.  "No thanks, I'm a grown-up that makes a living on her unbroken legs.  Thank you", I thought.  What I said was . . . "Okay".  Yeah . . . I never said I was good with peer pressure.  I sat gingerly down and felt the plastic sled start down the hill.  Uh oh.  "Hit it!", squealed Tiffany.  I scooted forward and proceeded to speed down the hill.  And hit every man-made mogul on the way down.  I am told I actually got air.  Hey, nobody told me how to steer!  I could feel the chilly wind on my face and my heart in my throat.  I sped down the ice while clutching the rope for dear life.  In spite of a slightly bruised ass, I reached the bottom invigorated.  I was alive and in one piece and it was actually . . . I'd admit it . . . a little fun.  Okay, I can see why I did it when I was a kid.  I gave a little celebratory backbend on the ground and made better work of getting to the top than the first time.  All right, fine.  I'm a grown-up and I go sledding.  Is there anything wrong with that?  NO.  I didn't think so.  We took a few more turns and parted ways with rosy cheeks and sore bums.  And perhaps a little younger than before.

So, I guess grown-ups can go sledding.  Fine.  And have fun.  And not die or break a leg.  But, I would definitely recommend going when the snow is a bit fresher and The Hill is a little less like Mount Vinson.  But, I would recommend going.  At any age.  Just wear jeans that you don't like too much.

1 comment:

Brittney said...

Thanks for going with us! We'll have to try again when it's not so icy and scary!