Two nights ago I went on an adventure, however, it didn't require me to go very far. It was about 5-10 minutes back the road in St. Thomas, PA. It has to be one of the biggest social events that occurs during the winter months back in this neck of the woods, but only some people know about it. Freeze tag. on ice skates. with Mennonites**. My brother, Alex, only started going a few weeks ago and has gone about 3 times. If you know about it, just show up. There isn't really an invite.
Ok, the set up. Everyone parked their cars in the field and headed down to the bank to sit and put on their skates. Who ever runs the show had a generator hooked up to some big flood lights at the far end so some parts of the pond weren't very well lit.
We made it on the ice, without falling, which was a miracle because the water seemed to freeze mid-wave. That was a bit of a challenge. Some areas of the ice were perfectly smooth, mainly around the edges and in the corners, but out in the middle, the site of the tag games, it was very rough.
I saw some of the craziest, but best skaters I've ever seen (and probably ever will see) at this pond. They are also risk takers, not risk takers as in "Oh I've never skated backwards so I'm just gonna start doing it." No. There were 7-12 year old boys skating at full speed towards an ice ramp (maybe 6 inches tall). They'd go airborne and manage to land perfectly. Amazing.
It took a little while for things to get underway, so we skated around and just seeing the speed and skill of these skaters was really intimidating. My brother, Alex, warned Alexis & I that the "tagging" is a lot more like checking or slapping or hitting; it's a rough game. He also advised that we stay on the outer edge, because it gets really crazy in the middle. We were a little scared of what to expect and rightfully so. I fell a few times and I fell hard. I'm still sore.
Each time the decision was being made on who would be it, all the guys congregated near the light pole. Some guy in a raccoon hat was in charge, I think. One round all guys 18 and over were it. One time all girls were it. One time all boys under 20 were it. So pretty much just went by age and gender. I reallllly wish I had a picture of all the girls congregated ready to go tag the tagees. I was one of 6 girls in pants, so we were the outsiders and easy to pick out of the crowd. There were some girls who had camouflage skirts, which were more season appropriate than all the pastel, flower patterns :) All the girls wore hockey skates, no figure skates. Pretty sweet.
I was really slow and a super easy target. I mean, wearing pants makes a girls butt more pronounced than a skirt so there was some awkward tagging on our butts. Not to be forgotten, there were some boob grazes too. Guess it happens in a game of people zipping around somewhat flailing their limbs at those their trying to tag. Whatever.
It's so difficult to describe how it looked without having any pictures, but somehow, a lot of people would get tagged in one area and then the taggers would guard the group so that the untagged people couldn't free their teammates. One time I definitely was freed one time and got really excited and in an effort to escape from the tagging guards I ran...and fell right on my knees. Ouch.
My next fall was pretty epic. My brother's friend and his friend's sister were there. His sister completely took me out, on accident of course. She fell behind me and into my legs, which scared me because I was worried my skate blades would cut her and we'd have a serious problem. Luckily neither of us cut each other but we were really sore.
Weirdest, most awkward moment of my life so far: I was in the middle, where it's extra crazy. I guess someone bumped me or I hit a rut or something and started falling. There was a guy near me so for some strange reason my reflex was to grab him in a weird hug. I hugged him really tightly...and almost made him fall over too. Thankfully we didn't fall, somehow. I didn't look at his face because I felt bad, but just apologized a lot and skated away. I obviously got a really good look at his coat so I identified him later because of the coat. He had a beard. Oh no! You all know what that means, right? He's married! :/ I felt bad. He probably went home and had to tell his wife he hugged another woman. Very tightly. BUT I apologized so I think all is well.
The other girl who was with us, Alex's friend's sister, M, had some very interesting names for some of the guys: Mr. Gorgeous, Cutie, etc. I know there were more, but I can't remember. She guessed that Mr. Gorgeous was 26 years old. No way he was that old. He was at the oldest probably my age. We soon found out he was in fact a teenager because one time the taggers were all girls and boys over 20 he was away from us out with his fellow tagees. Another interesting tidbit, M has gone a lot so she knows what's up and told us the boy wearing the helmet has had 13 concussions and his parents make him wear it. He's not allowed on the ice if he doesn't wear a helmet. Insane.
Two days later and I still ache, but I think Monday night I'll go back. I had a great time and I think this is a good way to force me into taking some risks and become a better skater. Oh and next time I WILL take pictures and/or video. Has to happen.
All in all, freeze tag is a huge social gathering. I bet I saw what will be 20 future couples (at least, if not more). Budding romances all around. I'm even told that some people were trying to hook Alex up with the one girl in the camo skirt. Seriously, love is in the air at this pond.
**We aren't really sure exactly what they are, could be a plethora of different groups, German Baptists, River Brethren, Mennonites, etc. but we do know they aren't Amish. Everyone drove there...in vehicles. So in order to not make things too confusing, I'll just refer to them as Mennonites. I do feel bad that I don't know...