Olympic (Day) Dreams: Queen Of The Ice

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figure skater at the Vancouver Olympics

Xue Shen competes in the Figure Skating Pairs Free Program in Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. Jamie Squire/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Jamie Squire/Getty Images

"Lust for Life" comes on the radio. Or maybe Outkast's "Hey Ya!"

I don't dream of dancing with Iggy Pop or singing back-up for Andre 3000 and Big Boi. I am ice skating to the music, nailing my double axel, showing the world how a spin, a salchow, should be done. My landings are perfect.

Actually, I don't know how to ice skate. I'm a Southerner. Southerners have this loose-hipped gait designed for striding up the red-clay hills of Alabama, tramping down the swampy trails of Florida, and promenading the sidewalks of Atlanta — unless there's been a hard freeze, in which case it's best if we stay in the house. We can't even walk on ice, much less shoot around it wearing blades on our feet. So I'm not even going to try. But inside my head, I can not only skate, I can skate backwards.

Diane Roberts

Diane Roberts lives in Tallahassee, Fla., where it almost snowed last weekend. Courtesy Diane Roberts hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy Diane Roberts

That's the miraculous thing about those muscled and sequined Olympians. I can sort of get how a person might propel herself forward on the ice. But backwards? And they defy gravity: those high-flying leaps, those in-air pirouettes, those costumes. The necks cut down to here and backs cut down to there, lacing and skinny straps — and that's just the men.

Thank God for that flesh-colored mesh, which makes the skaters look like they're wearing less than they are. Me, I don't go for the Vegas look when I skate. I stick to Audrey Hepburn black, no feathers, no beads. I need no ornament as I dance across the ice in my fantasy rink. I am as strong as titanium, graceful as a dragonfly.

In your head, you might catch the Super Bowl-winning pass from Drew Brees or sing a duet with Mick onstage as the Stones rock out. That's cool. I just prefer to execute a perfect double lutz as Iggy's bass gets insistent and Outkast hollers. I hit my triple. The crowd roars and bouquets of roses rain down on the ice.

Essayist Diane Roberts is a professor of English at Florida State University in Tallahassee. Her most recent book is Dream State.



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