In lieu of brakes, use…

Reader, beware. There follows a tale of great woe and embarrassment.

This summer, I spent a week at my cousins’ house in Germany. I had taken a German class the previous year, and was eager — though also rather afraid — to practice my newly-gained skills.

My cousins live in a lovely town in southern Germany, encircled by miles and miles of fields and forests.But enough about that. Though the setting is beautiful, what really interests us (in this case) is the adventure itself.

On my first evening there, my eldest cousin suggested we all go rollerskating. “It’s only for people less than thirty!” he said, thereby banning my uncle and aunt.

Full of enthusiasm, I accepted. This was a mistake. A fatal mistake.

While getting ready, I got a little tangled up in all the gear (straps, clasps, laces, pads, velcro strips, and clips!). However, I eventually made it outside and caught up with the others.

My youngest cousin looked at me and politely pointed out that I had the gloves on upside-down. Perhaps I should’ve read this as an ill omen and turned back. But I didn’t.

So off we all went.

Very soon, I was left trailing hopelessly behind.

My cousins, I realized, were fast.

Pant, pant, pant. I flailed my limbs about, trying to keep up with the zipping bolts of lightning ahead of me.

The next moment, however, I wanted to do anything but accelerate.

As we neared a huge downhill, I remembered a fact which I had conveniently pushed to the back of my mind : in all my years of rollerskating, I had never learned to brake. Whenever the need to stop had arisen, I’d always managed to steer into a conveniently situated bush, trashcan, or lamppost.

Zip, zip, zip. My cousins descended the hill, swift and aerodynamic.

I looked down. I gulped. And I let myself roll towards my doom.

Everything went very fast. Suddenly, I turned, lost my balance, and rammed into the ground, falling hard on my knee. (Later, I would notice that my joint had turned an interesting shade of greenish purple. It would’ve made rather a nice abstract painting).

After this slight incident, I think my cousins realized that perhaps I should not have come. Much to their credit, though, they were perfect sports about it, and waited for me, showing me where I could walk in the grass instead of having to go down hills.

Nevertheless, I was awfully embarrassed, and certainly felt much older than thirty. In fact, I felt a bit like an elderly aunt being introduced to some new technology by her young nieces and nephews. Except that, in this case, the technology was rollerskating.

After several more spectacular falls, I decided to perform one to crown them all.

We were going down yet another hill. I was gaining more and more speed. I had to do something, and quickly. A handy hedge loomed ahead. I veered off the path, bumped over the grass and — CRUNCH! I sunk, spread-eagled, into the hedge.

Just like in cartoons.

Reader, you were promised a tale of woe and embarrassment. If this is not the definition of ridiculous, I don’t know what is!


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