Column: Sports

by Andrew Brown

Telling Your Ice Queen to Suck It; A How-To
I lose my keys all the time. For the first few minutes I’ll just walk around my condo looking in the usual places. Then if I don’t find them there, I’ll move onto the unusual places, then at that point I’ll get flustered and dump my purse out. And if, after sorting through the rubble on the kitchen counter, I still don’t find them, I’ll start to go a little nuts. Actually, not a little nuts, a lot nuts. I’ll stomp around my place, cursing myself, knowing that my keys are in plain sight and I’m probably walking right past them. Occasionally I’ll break something, never anything valuable, although I once kicked the TV stand so hard the flat-screen wobbled and fell, but that was the worst it has ever been. Usually it’ll just be something stupid, like bashing a cereal box against the counter, or beating the couch with its pillows. So imagine this feeling, this manic psychosis that unfolds when I lose my keys, imagine you are a little girl and this lost-key feeling is how you feel all the time. And imagine skating is the only thing that makes it ok. Well, skating first, but more than skating, winning. I remember the first trophy I ever got, and how for a few days I finally felt okay. Just like when, after all that ranting and furniture assaulting, I finally find my keys.

The triple was the thing then. It was everything. I knew if I could learn it I’d be unstoppable. Getting it was hell. Every day after practice I’d peel off my tights and it would look like someone had taken a baseball bat to my ass. My legs would be all these shades of purple, wild shades like a hooker’s eye shadow, and it would just go all the way down my thighs, like I was wearing purple shorts of just bashed up meat. I nailed it though, and I blew everybody away at Skate America. Nancy wasn’t shit then, and I knew I would beat Kristi at the U.S., but I got sick and it screwed up everything for me.

That flu was the first of a bunch of things I couldn’t control that kept fucking with my skating, stupid accidents that kept me from my trophies. I twisted an ankle, and then a computer fucked up my tickets to France. Imagine you trained your whole life, day after day, living in the purple hooker meat suit, and then some guy does some computer stuff wrong and your plane is really late, and because of this, because of some god damn computer guy, you screw up at the Olympics. The Olympics. How would you feel? It was always like that for me, something always happened that I couldn’t control. It was always the storm, wind ripping up Redwoods and tossing them across my road. I’d get two and a half rotations, and some goddamn tree would come flying out of nowhere, knock me out of a perfect triple. It wasn’t like that for her. She was always driving her BMW through Eversunny Meadow.

I know I’m short, and I knew Nancy wasn’t that tall either, because we both met Christie Brinkley once, and we were just blown away by how tall and pretty she was. So I knew Nancy wasn’t tall by regular standards, but at 5’1” she seemed like an ice-giant. She’s from the east coast, and all the east coast girls are always so stiff and proper, and so phony when they’re nice. We’d have spent all morning throwing ourselves up in the air and dropping onto rock until we wanted to die, and I’d be hunched over huffing, red as a ’65 Mustang, and there she’d be, stilting around the locker room, her back straight as an arrow, Snow White the ice-giant.

When I was 11 I got caught shoplifting at Woodward & Lothrop. And leading up to the Olympics, every moment that I wasn’t on the ice felt like those last few steps before the security guard put his hand on my shoulder, just a sickening quiet panic. I could see it in her eyes; she knew that somewhere, somehow, I had not told the guy “don’t bash her in the leg with a pipe.” Everybody knew, but they waited. They all waited ’til after all the fat TV checks came in—bigger than the goddamn Super Bowl checks—to finally say I knew. Yeah I knew, and yeah I could have said don’t, I just can’t explain it to you. You weren’t born with this lost-key feeling, and it seems like there’s only this prim ice-giant guarding the antidote. If you knew, if it was you, you’d have maybe not said don’t either.

Everybody made a fortune after, even coaches I wouldn’t let coach a dog were driving cars straight out of Miami Vice. Everybody struck it rich in the ice-rush except me. If you want to see the shit I had to do to get a tiny piece of the money I made everyone just go on the Internet, somewhere there’s a list of all the jobs I had, videos too. All the hosting, and fighting, and judging and crap I had to endure just get a little piece of the windfall I’d accidently created for everyone else.

Now I’m just me for a living. It’s a lot of travel, but if I keep moving the lost-key feeling gets pretty quiet and ignorable, like a radio playing a few rooms away. It never goes away though, not completely, not like it did back then. So I go to Little Rock, Douglas, Georgia, Jacksonville, wherever they want to see someone who shook the world. They always hold their sweaty hand shakes for too long, draw out the spontaneous hugs, like they’re hoping some of me rubs off on them, and they can go back to Wal-Mart or wherever the fuck, and tell the ice-giants of their lives to go suck one.