Long story short, I didn't go ice skating at the Memphis Zoo. I've got a bad skating history. Bloody knees and noses. One visit to Skateland ended abruptly when I tore out the entire front of my pants.
The zoo was quiet on the cold Sunday afternoon before Christmas as I strolled through China and across the African veldt listening to the far-off thump of a dance beat and psyching myself up. The sounds were coming from the white ice-skating tent set up across from Teton Trek.
When I arrived at Zoo on Ice, nobody was skating, although the tent was as busy as the rest of the park was still. Parents rented and strapped skates onto their children's feet, while anxious would-be skaters bounced up and down with anticipation. Disco lights turned the entire tent green and blue as men in wool hats with snow shovels scraped the top layer of ice and pitched the fluffy remains onto a bank of artificial snow.
An encouraging woman working the skate rental said I came at the perfect time for a beginner. Other seasoned skaters confirmed that the ice had been pretty choppy, and it's a lot easier for a newbie to skate on smooth, freshly scraped ice, especially if he or she doesn't try to go very fast.
Smokey Robinson's "Tears of a Clown" played over the PA, and skaters of all ages and sizes returned to the ice where they glided in big graceful circles. It looked like a Christmas postcard, and I thought about giving it a try before a panic attack sent me off to the gift shop to look for Christmas presents. But I'm going to ice-skate. Some day. Zoo on Ice will be here through January 30th, so there's still plenty of time to try again.
"Zoo on Ice" at the Memphis Zoo. $6 if you rent skates; $5 if you bring your own. (zoo admission fees also apply.) Ice-skating hours are 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Check memphiszoo.org/zooonice for a schedule of nighttime skating. Through January 30th.