Now, the Wild Things have been around for a long, long time. However, like other things in life, they have grown up: Not necessarily matured; just grown.
I remember my first bout with Wild Things. It was in 1993. Figures were still a part of the equation and one had to pass figures tests in order to compete for a berth at the Junior Nationals - Junior Olympics, or whatever they were called back then. Understand, that as great as our skater is at edges now, doing figures for him was absolutely painful. He was so small and light that I remember the wonderful Jimmie Disbrow getting down on his hands and knees during a seminar just to try and see a tracing. It was time to qualify and the first figures test had not been passed in five - count them - FIVE attempts at that point.
It was a cold morning in the Aspen Ice Garden. Of course every morning in the Aspen Ice Garden was cold, no matter what the season. The judges were lined up; the skaters had their scribes (if you don't know what a scribe is, Google it!). Coaches were pacing; parents were, once again, holding a collective breath. That was the first time I truly remember the circus parading. It started in my brain and ended up a bit lower. It was not fun. When the paperwork was turned in, it was yet-another retry (or fail) and that was the end of the season. I remember being absolutely crushed. I also remember a then-official saying, "He'll be a great show skater," which in retrospect, is now somewhat amusing since she did not mean it as a compliment.
The next time Wild Things appeared were in 1996 at Junior Olympics. At that point, we were involved in competing juvenile dance. The partner's parents thought we had the next Fred and Ginger. We knew we needed to move on - quickly.
After that, there were too many Wild Things to even try to chronicle. I have already referred to skating as our E-Ticket Ride (for those of you too young to know, and E-Ticket was issued for the most popular rides at Disneyland - another particularly amusing irony), and there were way too many rides on this rollercoaster. Looking back, they were all "learning experiences," both for us and for our skater. Reviewing them, we have earned an equivalent of a doctorate in the school of Hard Knocks - and hard falls. There were the close calls of being first alternate way too many times. There was the pairs skating insanity; the dance skating insanity; the spiral fracture that almost ended a season. There were long trips, missed flights. There were coaching moods, moves and, yes, necessary changes. The Wild Things don't really go away; they just morph into different forms and varying degrees of importance. Some are amusing; some are definitely not. How you choose to tame them - how you choose to be the Ringmaster of this circus - is really all that matters in the long run.
Welcome to my world. Welcome to where my Wild Things are this season.