Have you seen Frozen? It’s become part of the very fabric of our lives since Stella saw it in the theatre (her first large scale cinematic experience) and, as was reported back to me (working Moms feeling guilty and shitty about missing milestones since 1972), she sat still and rapt for the entire movie. No movement or vocalizing. Wouldn’t let my Mom or brother even think about leaving until the entire credits had rolled and the popcorn sweepers had ambled into the theatre.
Our household (even the old crusty ones who do not like sweeping balladry) is INTO IT. And it's really a lovely film I can get behind, with girls being brave and strong and willing to go the distance for a sister. While singing. But my love is a drop in the well compared to the giant bucket sloshing everywhere that my Princess Elsa Stella Belle Takhar carries around. Frozen is her JAM.
When it snowed last month, she got to build TWO snowmen, just like Olaf. Because FROZEN.
She has a dress with Anna and Elsa on it, because FROZEN. She has taken and warped snippets from dialogue (“just leave me ALONG”, “why are you such a MAN?” “Don’t shut me OUT!” “Because people don’t really chaaaaange”) and slides them into every day conversation and impromptu sky train dance routines because FROZEN.
We sing Let it Go together in the kitchen with arms whipping around, and sometimes deep dips and merciless high kicks are combined, because FROZEN. (Godamnit that song lit a tiny flame in my belly that I didn’t know was there and FUCK ALL OF EVERYTHING if Idina Menzel doesn’t get to sing it at the Oscars even though the U2 song is going to win and UGH and BLARGH.)
After I saw a super cute photo of some friends skating at the West End Ice Rink, I was all, I can make another FROZEN experience come true for her! We can go ice skating!
Real realness: I haven’t been skating in prooooobably 15 years and back then I would only go so I could eat neon orange cheese popcorn as my foot bones achingly moved back into place but FUCK YES, let’s do this because FROOOOOOOOOOZZZZZZZEEEEEEEEEEEENNNNNNNNNN.
I convinced my brother Koleman (Nathan Lane’s straight spirit animal), who loves Frozen even more than we do, to come with us. We bounded into the refreshingly ancient ice rink from 1974 and were informed that the free skate ended in 15 minutes. I was crestfallen. I repeated to another teenager, “but it says right now is free skate on the website, and BECAUSE THE INTERNET IS THE TRUTH AND LAW.” The young men felt sorry enough for us that they slid our skates across the counter without taking the limp $20 bill I was flapping around. (This column is dedicated to them.)
Uncle Kolie got a sudden case of the chicken shits so he stayed in sneakers and was the photographer. I asked him how crudely I could describe his 11th hour cowardice and he texted me this:
I was ready. I knew Stella and I weren’t going to step out onto the ice and become a prettier and more full-lipped Kerrigan and Harding, but we were there and we had 12 minutes left and this was a free failure-in-the-making, so the show MUST GO ON. She jammed her toes into her tiny skates and I strapped mine on without severing any major arteries. I walked around tentatively on the hard rubber flooring. Okay. Ok. Yup. I’m upright. We can do this.
SO. First rule of ice skating: One of the consenting adults needs to know how to skate. That way you can pick up the child and do a lap and they can see this isn’t a death trap. Or you can skate slowly backwards as you hold their hands all preciously and they take their first slippery baby bird steps onto the ice.
You don’t just sliiiide out onto that ice, 21% sure-footed, holding up another human being who is 0% aware of this new reality of staying upright. It is the blind Bambi leading the blinder Bambi. We slowly skidded out onto the ice; her clad in a long blue princess dress haphazardly tucked up into her pants so as to not trip, Evel Knievel helmet strapped tightly under her chin. She tried and failed for about 10 seconds to gain some semblance of footing on the ice as I fashioned an iron grip under her armpits and locked my knees. Every foot step she tried was a banana peel and inevitably she burst into tears as I locked eyes with my brother filming and we clenched our jaws hard so as to not laugh.
A very helpful young lady appeared beside us and offered some help. Not the metal walker-style crutch I remember from my youth, but instead a warped orange traffic cone. Oh, got it. My brother will line these up to protect the rest of the skaters from tripping over our dead cold bodies after we smash our noses into the back of our skulls. Perfect!
I gently shoved the saddest little girl in the world back into the pre-skate room and saw large men with kind eyes who clearly also wished there had been a little more fun in that chilly 10 seconds. She was scooped up by Uncle Kolie while I did a slow painful lap with the f-cking cone.
Picture Quasimodo in skates, clinging to the wall with one hand, and the other hand claw-dragging a bent topless cone. I only needed about 10 minutes, with six breaks to pause, stand upright, confirm my spine was still intact, and then carry on.
And only once did one foot start to freestyle out to the side while that horrific full body seizure flash of “I’M FALLING OH GOD JESUS DICAPRIO THIS IS THE END OF HEALTH” slid down my body like an electric eel spinal tap. I recovered and gave my tailbone another 25 years or so of usage.
Once out on the sidewalk, we held hands and ran down the block, singing and off to find some snowman cookies. The magic of a three year old is that the measure of an evening's success can be found in the conciliatory sugar and chocolate.
As our offkey voices bleated out into the navy blue night, she yelped, "Are we on an adventure?"
Yes, my girl. With you? Always.