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17th May
written by Mombo#9

Dear Mr. Timberlake:

I would like to refute, right from the start, that I am a ‘butt-in-ski’.  First of all, that isn’t really a word, and not many of us are so Shakespearian that we can just invent jargon and hope it sticks for hundreds of years.  The real questions are, what really separates “being intense” from just being focused?  What is the criteria that separates obsessive from merely being goal oriented?  Who determines if one is maniacal or maternal?

In the past, Mr. Timberlake, I have been miscast in some of the former title contenders and I would like for you to remember the importance of the perception of the latter labels as you consider the suggestion I put before you.

At this time, you appear to be single.  And although noted that some of your former love interests were poor choices, your disillusionment and judgment were salvaged by the prose you penned for each, “Cry Me A River” for Britney’s betrayal, and “What Goes Around…Comes Around” for the fickle Ms. Diaz.   You rose from the ashes of their callousness like a Phoenix in an in sync sky.

Which brings me to my point.

I have a daughter.

I know you have heard this from many moms through the years, as they cut your hair, cashed your checks, and handed you car keys.   But, this I promise you, God really did spend a little more time on her.

She doesn’t know that I am writing this, of course.  And between us, when you call her, you probably should come up with a good story that doesn’t include my name.  She is an ice dancer so maybe you can just say you saw her a few years ago and were impressed by her artistry and expression to the music and how her image has haunted you for years—and then this weekend, when Charlie White and Meryl Davis were on the front page of the Sports section of the New York Times, for winning the first Gold Medal ever for the United States for ice dancing, you felt it was an omen and that you should call her—or something like that.  I don’t want to tell you what to do.

And to be clear, my daughter doesn’t think she needs any help in the  “finding a guy” department”.  She isn’t one of Cinderella’s stepsisters, with moles and grotesque feet that won’t fit in designer footwear.  Okay, well, she is an ice dancer so she does have those little bumps and odd protrusions that wearing skates for six or seven hours a day tend to leave on the toes and heels, but most people have had the kind of upbringing that stop them from making comments and yelling out.

My daughter is, in fact, a beautiful young woman.  And the ‘buts’, if there are any, are really positives.  Truly.

She doesn’t suffer fools.  At twenty-two, this eliminates most of the male population from her age group down.

A second issue is that my daughter is an athlete.  She trains hard. She has a gun show for arms and she can do one-arm push-ups.  Most males, however, make the mistake of belittling figure skating as not a “real sport” and regale her with quips from “Blades of Glory”, which tends to make her want to put a blade in the one part of their anatomy where it would easily fit.

In the past, I have suggested that she expand her social network and go out into the unknown area of exploration—like on line dating.  She negated that idea and offered me the moniker of ‘butt-in-ski”, as in, “stop being”.

I proffered that she go out with a few of the young men that her friends have advised might be “okay” and she declared she was not dating guys who have been classified like yogurt in the refrigerator a week after the sell date.  Oh, and she suggested I was getting obsessive about her dating life.

I then came up with a really great concept.  I bought 10 pair of Phillies tickets and was crafting the “Date My Daughter” billboard for I-95 when she saw the layout.  It was pretty witty.  Guys would have to send me their CVs and qualifications on why they should be selected to go to a game with my daughter and then select one creative method of conveying that message.  I would select 10 finalists.  They would get a ticket and arrive at the ballpark to meet my daughter, and at the end of the night she could either give them a baseball hat, or her phone number.

This landed me the title of maniacal.  No billboard.  No creative convincing.  But she kept the tickets and took her friends.

So here we are, Justin, (I think at this point, I can call you Justin, don’t you?)  You are more or less between ladies yourself, and no offense, you seem to need a little help yourself in finding a keeper.  At 30, I think you are past the fascination with urinal games and being a former boy band member, I think you possess civility in understanding how harshly others label and cast bias without ever considering individual merits.

My daughter’s phone number is on the attached dossier.   Thanks for coming up with this grand idea.

Maternally yours,



7th April
written by Mombo#9

There are things I am never going to understand in life.

Why a pair of pants feels super comfortable when trying them on and then way-way-WAY too
big when you discover they are maternity wear in the check-out line.

How the Haitian Relief effort collected over 15 million dollars after the horrific earthquake for a
population of 9.8 million–yet current conditions still show tent cities, destruction, and poverty.

Why Great Danes only live an average of 7 years?

Why imported crystals can rarely be used a second time, nor even be reattached to the skating
costume from whence they fell?

Why my seatbelt keeps getting twisted so that it looks like I am doing a macramé plant holder
above the waist.

(My list does this waxing and waning from the merely important to the essential.)

And so it goes with the “Moving of the World Figure Skating Competition” diatribe.

What is essential is, of course, the devastation and loss of lives and way of life in Japan. But,
for most of the world, we can offer only prayers and contributions to the Red Cross. Is there a
message we should be asking ourselves? Some reflection on our own lives and the fragility of
time with those we love. Surely.

But it is important, on a different scale, on a different spinning wheel, that we recognize that our
skaters have trained for this competition for a year. This is their annual yearly evaluation. This
is their bonus. It is in fact, an understatement, to say that blood, sweat, and tears went into the training.

Moving the event to Moscow is not a betrayal. Nor is it like telling a joke at a funeral. It cannot
be equated to a groom jilting the bride at the altar and running off with her best friend, or the
child of a Pepsi executive admitting that he prefers Coke. Respect is not being evaluated by the
technical caller, it will be offered by all of us with how we fill our days and our actions within all
of the hours we remain on whatever part of this world we occupy.

Although I have many questions about life, I also have a few answers.

Everyone falls in life, on the ice or not, and although it is easier when someone offers a hand
up, eventually you have to find your own balance.

There are few things in life that will not seem better once you have petted the soft head leaning
against your leg and looked into the trusting eyes of a dog.

Mothers should be allowed a vote in picking a future spouse, what city you live in, and what
color nail polish you wear.

No one is ever too old to have a sports car. It is, however, possible to be too young.

“Raspberry Beret” would have been a GREAT program, perhaps only bested by “Burning Down
the House.”


28th January
written by Mombo#9

I have to admit, I was feeling a bit guilty yesterday. My husband was home, battling the ravages of 15 inches of snow and ice, dealing with the “throw the wubba” demands of a fox terrier, and stacking the mail and newspapers for me to sort when I return, and there I was, lounging in the super comfort of a Magi Bed at the O. Henry Hotel.

To make it guilt to the second power, I envisioned him eating his bowl of Raisin Bran and skim milk while I sat down to a complimentary breakfast in the conservatory, overlooking the grape arbor and fountain garden, to a gourmet breakfast of eggs, bacon, biscuits and gravy, fresh fruit, and fresh pressed coffee. (All to be enjoyed while a cello played softly in the background.) I returned to my room to shower and lounge in an O. Henry robe while my tiny daughter slept on in her magical bed.

The lingering calmness to the soul, enriched by comfort and cello chords, was disturbed by the awakening of my former ice dancer. We had to go watch “Dance Practice.”

“Why should we go watch practice sessions now that you aren’t skating? That should be one of the perks — we can actually watch the event without attending the midnight practice sambas, and day-break run-throughs, and 20 minute “official warm-ups” that were four hours before the event.”

She looked at me. “We are at Nationals.”

I tried to stare her down. “I know, but let’s pretend it is like Christmas, we don’t want to ruin the surprise by peeking. Did you put on your robe yet? I think this is a ‘Magi Robe’.”

An hour later we were sitting on the bleachers at the practice arena. Peeking.

“I don’t understand this concept. Why do they have the practice arena right next to the main arena? That’s a little too convenient. All the nationals you went to, we had to get on a bus, ride 40 minutes, pay extra according to the gold standard of the day …”

My daughter looks at me like I might be whining.

“Remember in Portland, I think we crossed three rivers. And in St. Louis, we stayed downtown, and had to be shuttled 45 minutes away. It may have been to another state, I can’t remember.”

My daughter raises her eyebrow.

“You look like a librarian when you do that.” I tell her. She smiles and I know she is not listening but watching the senior skaters who have taken the ice.

Charlie and Meryl begin their warm up. I watch and then tell her, “They should get an Olympic Gold for stroking.”

They begin doing segments of their program and I point out the artistry and magnificence of their skill in case she is missing it.

“You should really just watch quietly,” she says to me. “Just take it all in.”

“I’m glad you only skated against them once,” I whisper, “I would feel bad not watching you on the practice ice if you were in their group.”

She scoots forward on her seat and I lean back. Taking it all in. Quietly.

Lynn and Logan begin their program. She looks beautiful in red. My daughter’s last free dance dress was red. Lynn and Logan skate beautifully, feeling the music, making the audience feel the music, “The Trouble with Love Is…”. My daughter’s last free dance was about love.

My daughter looks at me. “What is wrong with you?” She digs in her purse and hands me a Sniffs tissue.

“You told me to take it in,” I tell her.

“I also suggested you do it quietly, and not start…” she stops and then says, “Maybe you are right. Why don’t you go to the other rink and get ready for pairs and save this for the actual competition.”

I make my way down the steps and as I approach the rink corner, Charlie and Meryl do this sinewy arm toss, flip, slide, catch, change of position lift that defies the laws of gravity and believability. I turn to give her the “Did you see that” look but she is banking on the fact that we don’t look too much alike for people to make a connection, and ignoring me.

I get to the arena easily since it is a mere 100 feet instead of miles away, and watch the duo of fake-Zambonis clean the ice while a battalion of workers patch the ice in their wake.

I text my daughter: “Why do all the ice-patchers have on helmets?”

She texts back, “So they don’t have to hear their mothers?”

“Fresh! Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?” I text back.

“Yes.” She responds. “I do.”


Comments Off on Datebook: January 28, 2011
28th January
written by Mombo#9

We are staying at the O. Henry Hotel. That’s correct. A hotel dedicated to the writer who penned “The Gift of the Magi.” There is much to be said for ambience and charm. My daughter is less impressed with the high teas at 4:00 p.m. each day and the text of the touching story printed in the Great Room off the lobby than the proximity of O. Henry in relationship to the arena and the official hotel.

“Why aren’t we staying at the Sheraton?” she queried as we drove past the mall across the street from the main hotel that broadcasts its giant red “S” into the night as if this is really Metropolis and not Greensboro.

“Because we need to have a cultural experience. We need to share what is offered from our Southern neighbors.”

“It’s because it’s a writer isn’t it? It would be the same if it were called The Hemingway or The T.S. Eliot, wouldn’t it?”

I pause for a moment to John Lennon the idea, and then shake my head to clear it.

“It is because we need to go to an area and embrace what they value and what they hold dear.”

My daughter eyes the 1920s taxicab sitting at the curb of the hotel. “Will they charge me a 1925 price to take that to the Coliseum?”

We did venture to the Sheraton for my daughter to get her credential, necessary for one who is attending midnight meetings and voting for the international selections. While she was being photographed for the credential, I wandered the two-acre lobby and see Charlie White and Rockne Brubaker and a sea of current Team USA jackets, as well as several fine restaurants and five bars.

She comes back and shows me her picture, “Probably the worse one so far. I look like a deer in the headlights. How did I get my eyes this round? Did you see anybody?”

“No.” I lie. “Let’s go back to our hotel and have some tea.” She didn’t answer, but I sensed an eye roll behind my back.

Once seated and waiting for our porcelain pot, she picks us a brochure and reads. “Oh I get it. They had you at, ‘The O. Henry Hotel, like the Roman god Janus, faces both forward and backward.”‘ She laughs out loud.

Now at 8:00 in the morning, I munch on homemade breakfast rolls and sip fresh pressed coffee as she sleeps away on the “luxurious comfort of the Magi Bed” and one for the four “sumptuous Egyptian combed-cotton pillows” and snuggles in the “Italian-woven sheets and pillowcases” (all available for purchase) and I smile.

Yes my sweet, sleep on.

When you wake you can wander the coffee shop sans makeup or coiffed hair, comfortable in the knowledge that you will not see anyone you know.


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8th January
written by Mombo#9

I have a problem with letters.

My problem with letters is that I want to make them into words.

And at certain times of the year I want my words to be the kind that inspire to a point that a musical score would soon accompany them. I want my words to be put to music and sung by Bette Midler or Celine Dion; and although they do not necessarily need to be the wind beneath, or behind, I do secretly hunger to have them broadcast across a packed arena as a dance team skates to them in at least a show program designated from a medal placement.

If I am being truly honest, I rarely pass up an opportunity to have words, or not mince words, in any arena offered.

A “written brief” is an oxymoron to me.

This has not been a talent, or curse, that is celebrated by my children.

During her competition days, my daughter cringed as I unrolled the “Good Luck” signs I typically had made by the local Allsign Company. If her name had been Ashley or Amanda I am sure she would have feigned not being related, but since she was given an unusual moniker (by me) to symbolize the work of Hemingway (who was often touted (incorrectly) as “a man of few words”) this was impossible. Upon reflection of a distance of three years, the compulsory and original dance typically placed my daughter and her partner in medal position but then the free dance day dawned and well, things often went to hell in a hand basket. I think my early good luck banners were intended to be like a fortune cookie for the ice.

“Skate It Like You Do in Practice.”

“It’s Just Another Run-Through — in front of a lot of people!”

“Just Smile and Enjoy Yourself!”

But after a few rough finishes into 5th and 6th I felt I needed to try to create more of a “motivational life” banner.

“One Skate does not Define YOU as a skater.”

“It’s Just One Day Out of Thousands to Come.”

“Just Smile and Pretend Everyone is wearing Hanes Underwear!”

“The Ice is Slippery for EVERYONE!”

“It’s been said that Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad.”

“Every once in a while, Luck HAS to come into it!”

“Ask Judge # 5 IF HE Thinks HE Can Come Out There and Do IT Better!!”

Another problem I have is when they offer free Monogramming. (This seriously brings a little tear to my eye. I mean, I’ve had vanity plates since I was a provisional driver). This is usually not an issue or an area that needs the bright yellow highlighter. I mean, who would not want a custom made Louis Vuitton bag with personalized initials and matching liner as a graduation gift? Exactly. See, Louis limits how much you can run on. It is one, two, or three initials.

Apple does not limit their words for their free monogram offer. This is why my son was almost cited for public urination when he opened his gift of an iTouch on his 18th birthday and read (engraved in Baskerville Bold Face type): “Adam — you have seen the waxing and waning of 216 full moons in your young life. May you always be aware of the simple joy of watching such miracles as you go on to create your own.” He covered it quickly with a pirate silicone cover but every once and a while I would see my two get snickering and punching each other in the shoulder after one or the other unclothed said iTouch to reveal its beautiful naked message of hope and sincerity.

Of course, this year, Apple offered their free monogramming on their iPads. And so, my grown offspring, who hate my four page texts (“Mom. It is called Text Messaging, not Text Novellas”) and my emails with their PS, and PSS, and PSSS, (Mom! This is Pssing Me Off! Cut it Out, You already said that anyway) will be delighted to know that hidden behind their Tory Burch and Just Basic Black Apple Regular cases are some words they may one day soon wish they had paid heed.

I had the new PIN number for all the Mombo credit cards engraved in plain Courier New.


Comments Off on Datebook: January 1, 2011
23rd November
written by Mombo#9

Two recent events caused me to do the proverbial “double-take.”

The first is that Scott decided that they are no longer going to put those little cardboard tubes in their toilet paper rolls. So in the future, when you come to the end of the roll, you are literally going to be down to nothing.

I realize most people may not give pause at the technological development of toilet tissue, but in my house it has been a point of contention for many years. My husband believes that there is a correct way and an incorrect way to put a roll on the spindle. The correct way is, of course, the method that he has decided was set in stone and the message sent down the mountain for his ears alone.

I say that because my mind is usually on more pressing matters, like what Beatles song can be spliced with a waltz, is there a machine that picks up crystals from the dressing room floor like those that scour the sand for loose change, and is the ISU going to try for the 70th time to lower the age of competing male skaters to match that of their female counterparts?

Maybe I am too distracted to care if the toilet tissue end is going over the top or flapping underneath. My husband, who has never worked for the Hilton, Westin, or any cruise ship line, swears the roll should come over the top. He doesn’t slam the point home by making little origami designs with the end of the top sheet, but he will “turn it around” if I “put it on backwards.” This wouldn’t be such an issue, if he didn’t need to tell me of his correction.

So there I will be, balancing the checkbook, making marinara sauce from scratch, and hand crafting designs for wrapping paper to be used for future birthdays, and my husband will enter the room.

He: “I had to change the toilet paper around again.”

Me: amortizing our monthly consumption of K-cups and doing a cost comparison of Green Mountain or using coupons from Bed, Bath, and Beyond, while stirring the hearty, bubbling sauce, merely looks at him.

He: “I don’t know why you can’t remember; maybe they should put little arrows inside the roll.”

Me: foiling a silver wing for an angel on the plain white paper, merely looks at him.

He: “I mean, it is a 50-50 chance of guessing at it and getting it right, I mean…” (walking away as I stir the sauce with a bit of a Steel Drum beat)

The second thing that gave me the snap neck was hearing the Pope say something to the effect that there might be times when wearing a condom is okay. I am not one to get into religious debates or filibusters, basically because I grew up in a Southern Baptist family (where at some point they must have removed my sunglasses and applied that memory erasing trick like in “Men In Black” because I have no real memory of the actual services but now I have an illogical fear of rivers and fried chicken) and because I converted to my husband’s Lutheran faith — which I once bottom-lined to someone as being quasi-Catholic without “wanting to pay for time in minor hell.” (This earned me “a look” from most of my in-laws.)

So, to me, the Pope saying it is okay to wear a condom in certain situations is a bit like my husband telling me that the toilet paper roll has only one way to go on correctly. I know that no matter how many times I shake my head at the underhanded method my husband mocks to keep that paper rolling smoothly over the top, he is never going to change his mindset. It doesn’t matter that the paper does the same job, just as effectively, no matter if it is under or over. It doesn’t matter that no one has ever stopped mid-wipe and said, “Oh hell, I just used the wrong side.”

Of course, we can still hope that even in the dark, there is a 50/50 chance that they will get it right someday.


Comments Off on Datebook: November 21, 2010
8th November
written by Mombo#9

The season following a Winter Olympics year is much like the morning after Daylight Saving that takes place in November, nine months later.  Everything looks the same but there is a subtle difference that you just can’t wrap your mind around. The clock says it is five o’clock but something feels off.

The short dance blends the compulsory and the original dance, but yet, it doesn’t quite feel right. Not yet.

One of my tasks for these approaching longer winter nights is to finally put the skating scrapbooks together. When competitions were in progress, I was lucky to just get the tidbits put in a pile, to be carried to the box, to be added to the stack. The first things to organize were the photographs, which is how I had a 5 by 7 glossy sitting on top of my coffee table when a non-skating acquaintance stopped by.  She inquired about the skating photo near her coffee cup (that I was keeping a close eye on!), and I replied that it was one of my daughter with Michelle Kwan.

“Oh…which one is your daughter?”

For a moment I was speechless. Was this possible? Could someone not really know the Kween of skating? Could someone not know there was in fact a Kween of skating?

I pointed out my daughter and my houseguest murmured platitudes while brushing white fox terrier hairs from her black pants.

Of course I realized she would have been more impressed with a snapshot of Tony Romo or Tom Brady with an arm around my child.  A pic of Shaq towering over my pixie or Lance Armstrong cycling past my offspring would have garnered a low five at least.

Mondays in any office, in any car, on any bus or train, in any school — the talk will turn to replays of the weekend games from August to February — the weekend football games. For skating fans, this is the same time frame that encompasses the start of the Junior Grand Prix to Nationals. But skating aficionados have no one to rehash the miss-calls and miscarriages of justice in the judging calls that occurred the prior week.

Sometimes I try.

“The Bills have the worst record in the league and we had to win in overtime — and almost blew that.” (Guy One)

“We have to get our offense off the fence!” (Guy Two)

“And how are they going to call Roethlisberger having control of that ball? Did you see the replay — from any angle? Are they blind?” (Guy One)

“I know. I’m not sure the Technical Callers are going to same training classes. Did you see what they gave our team on that footwork sequence? Do they need glasses”? (Me)

This typically results in silence, and not just the quiet that ensues when people just stop talking, but that long silence that lingers like when you call the wife of your boss by his current girlfriend’s name.

Sometimes I try to interject skating as an analogy in a professional discussion — after all, sports comparisons are plentiful in everyday life. “He’s no first round draft pick.” “That was almost a no-hitter Marvin.” “Betty, let’s keep it in the strike zone.”

I offered, when commenting that perhaps teachers were being asked to do too much in the No Child Left Behind debate, “Even Sarah Hughes could only get seven triples in a four-minute gold medal performance.”

This was also met with silence. The kind of silence where no one looks at each other because they don’t know if they are supposed to know what that means or not. Or the kind of silence you have when you find out your first humor book as been outsold by a book called, “The Wonder of Farts.”

And so, on this first day post-Daylight Saving, I am feeling a bit out of sync as the clock reads five and darkness hovers at the horizon. The Grand Prix results await the end of each week for the judging sheets for the short dance and free dance.

My eyes digest it while my memory subconsciously searches for that third column. Maybe by the time Daylight Saving has righted itself in the spring, I will have gotten use to it.

Maybe by then “The Fart” book will also not have so much wind in its sails.


Comments Off on Datebook: November 8, 2010
28th July
written by Mombo#9

The dog days of summer are almost upon us. In skating this translates to the long arduous days with little-to-no blades-on-ice news. There are rumors of course. Is Sasha taking all of her pairs tests? Will she then complete her dance through internationals? Will Mauri make it to Glee? Will Piper move to Hollywood to be an actress? Who will Rockne chose as a partner? Will eight media woman survive in a one-bathroom cabin in the Lake Placid wilderness with little more than 1000 memory cards filled with skating images?
Lake Placid and its Ice Dance Championships take place next week, and those with dance fever are anxiously awaiting the new combo dance — The Original Meets Compulsory — and how that works out in leveling the field while confusing the audience. The free dance always told a story so there is no fluidity there, but now the music must be uplifting, hinting that there will be a plethora of epiphanies amongst spectators and very little angst on skating faces (at least while on the ice).
The Junior Grand Prix and Grand Prix circuits are on the cusp of the autumn harvest and we await the aligning of stars — as in skating stars. Some of the golden ones are sitting out the pre-season after standing at the top of the podium in February, perhaps giving some of their competitors a shot at the top or setting up a scene of “rivalry.” That seems to be the caveat of hope for a bigger piece of television rights.
Until the big events we are left with watching reruns of CSI from seeming every city and Housewives from NY, New Jersey, Atlanta, Orange County, and DC. Our low budget version of “So You Think You Can Dance” is run through an online You Tube like contest where Joel Dear seems to be a stand out young choreographer. I suppose the only way this could make a major network would be if teams switched partners for the summer and former skaters created ridiculously outrageous programs for the current era competitors. Judges for the event could be current coaches representing the vast different thought camps  — Russian, French, and the United States.
Well, we can dream can’t we?
Who would have believed a blanket with arms would be a household word and the dreaded gift from distant relatives creating a billion dollar industry?
If we put some sequins on them and sold them at the registration desk we could remarket them as “Figure Skating Stadium Wraps.”

17th July
written by Mombo#9

With Lake Placid only three weeks away, I ponder my quiet mood and checkbook in the black. This is a unique phase for a skating mom.
I discount the eclipse that transpired yesterday. Of course, since my child is no longer competing, the expenses are reduced. No competition dresses, no choreography, coach, and music accounts rendered. My nerves are not stretched to the very ends and attached to the outer layer of skin at seemingly every pore.
This year I may actually be able to watch and mingle with other skating parents without displaying that “Red Bull twitch” and the “I-can’t-even-look-at-the-scores blink.” I might even check the weather ahead of time (and care!) in case I want to stroll Main Street to shop for things unrelated to skating.
I might even be able to laugh about the old times, as in “remember the time the zipper broke right before the free dance and you had to have your daughter sewn in her dress during warm up? Remember how calm you weren’t?” Or “remember the time you had an original dance costume made to look like an authentic Turkish outfit (well, if an authentic Turkish costume had imported sequins and crystals and would have been made of Lycra) and then a few of the judges said they didn’t like it so the coaches had you have another authentic Turkish costume made with even less/more features and then other judges said they liked the first costume better? Remember how happy you weren’t?”
Of course, it may be too soon.
So I am quietly anticipating my trip to Lake Placid. My checkbook suggests I might be able to stop at Woodbury Commons (AKA Gayle King and Adam Glassman in the current issue of “O Magazine”) and buy a yellow belt for $228.00 and not think it is frivolous. Even my lodging bill is less than a month of Caramel Macchiato Grandes at Starbucks as I am sharing a log home with the IDC team AND I will be able to pack for the trip in two Vera Bradley weekend bags. It all sounds so normal; it all sounds so calm.
And it will be. Until I walk into the arena and see the faces of dancers, and the faces of ice dancer moms and dads. And then I know all the feelings will return — the memories of the medals, the memories of the tears. I will remember the teams that have moved on: Adrienne K-Doddy, now a kindergarten teacher. Loren, now the reigning Miss Massachusetts. Chase going to dental/medical school. Clare a psychologist. Pilar deciding on law school and being the next Jerry McGuire.

Compulsory dances going the way of figures.

Life and ice dance are fluid, in a constant state of change, and although some of the faces are new, the looks on all of the faces remain the same: a blend of excitement and nervous anticipation, and the looks that declare “we are bringing it!!”

It is less than three weeks to the event, and all of us, whether frayed or not, are thinking close to the same thing: We are all bringing it — whether attitude or program contents or extra pillows and a case of Pepsi from Costco.

30th June
written by Mombo#9

Returning from Troy, Ohio and Nationals for the Theater on Ice competition, I have more questions than answers.

Why are there no Meijer’s stores on the East Coast? How close are you supposed to get to the Sonic order board? Why do we live in a Cats or Dogs world?

The cats or dogs comparison is a great analogy of life because it proffers the reality that you must be one or the other. I have a house cat and two dogs. The reality is if I had to choose, the selected one would bark. When it comes down to the wire, we all must make a symbolic choice: Persian or Poodle, Siamese or Samoyed, Ragdoll or Rottweiler.

In skating this pick comes down to what has commonly been broken down to: Artistic or Athletic — grace vs. jumps, beauty vs. power. Oh, we try to hedge, “I prefer a skater that has both power and grace.” But this is rarely how it is packaged. One trait overtakes the other.

Ice dance has now lost the compulsory dance that at least demonstrated that a dancer knew established patterns, rhythms, and what delineated a deep edge. The “thrown in” pattern in the short dance is going to be like eating a Tootsie Roll Pop — just as you are liking the flavor of the hard candy, little bits of the chewy stuff starts poking through; each is good separately, but when you try to eat them together it becomes a hot mess, all gooey and crunchy.

The Theater on Ice coaches have a horrific job. They must interpret rules that are really not rules. The production must have “stand alone” choreography, they must present a “show,” and it must be done on the ice. And it must be original.

The question arises then, “Is this THEATER on ice, or is it Theater on ICE?” Which is more important — the theater that makes skating the second focus, or the skating, which makes the production the second focus? Clearly, there are two schools of thought here: the cat or the dog.

Judging, I’m sorry to say, does not offer a clue to the answer. Hypothetically, winners in first place use props, fabulous costumes, and professional scenery (and the team skated a bit). Their performance, a top Disney hit, held all the characteristics, theme, and examples used in the movie. The original part would be that it was on skates. The second place winners would highlight excellent skating skills, while using an original piece of music never before seen on stage or screen. A cat and a dog — some oohh over the Disney number, while others ahhh over the original piece. In theory, judging should not go like this. There were other Disney type pieces, and there were others with no ties to Mickey Mouse. A pattern of types would have answered the questions on which way to go.

Artistry over athletic performance or athletic prowess over artistry?

Another concept that Theater On Ice offered that was a bit of a shock was the notion of a second day of competition. Not the typical short program one day, and the long the second. The second day opens to a whole new competition — it is a Tabula Rasa — as Saturday opens to the International Competition.

Theater on Ice introduces the true do-over — a concept coveted by not just other skating genres, but all sports — even ones with balls.