I could never get the hang of skating. At my fourth-grade roller skating party, I gripped the wall, while the other kids effortlessly glided past me. I wasn't able to skate for more than a couple of seconds before I panicked and lunged for the wall again. It was embarrassing.
This led to my lifelong aversion to ice skating. The idea of strapping sharp blades to my uncoordinated feet seemed like a recipe for disaster. Best case scenario, I'd fall on my face and another skater would run over my hand, severing my fingers. Worst case scenario, a blade would slice my throat and I would earn a posthumous Darwin Award.
I thought I was safe from this horrific fate until my girlfriend announced she wanted to go ice skating for her 34th birthday. She promised I wouldn't get hurt. She said all that happened when someone fell on the ice was that they landed on their butt and popped right back up, with nothing worse than a bruise.
Since I was more afraid of disappointing her than I was of dying, I agreed to risk my life for her amusement.
We went to a pop-up ice skating rink near DTLA on a Saturday afternoon right around the holidays. I was even worse at ice skating than I had been at roller skating, but my girlfriend was right — I didn't get hurt. With five minutes left before the rink closed, I was already heading off to the side, ready to change back into my shoes and breathe a sigh of relief. My girlfriend wanted to enjoy every possible second of pleasure on the ice, so she kept going. That's when a child slipped and fell in front of her. My girlfriend tried to slow down to avoid a collision. Then she fell backward.
The ice didn't crack, but her elbow did.
Instead of enjoying drinks with our friends at the Golden Gopher, we spent the night of my girlfriend's birthday in the emergency room at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center. As she grimaced in pain and waited for the Vicodin to kick in, she ruefully remarked that if she had the chance to do it over again, she should've just kept going and run over the child.
Now hang on. That sounds cruel and heartless, but in my girlfriend's defense, she was just joking, and she did stop, after all. But there is a theory that if you're driving on an icy road and a moose wanders in front of your car, the worst thing to do is to swerve or slam on the brakes — that may only cause you to lose control and skid off the road.
Instead, the experts say, begin to safely reduce your speed, and signal with your horn and lights in the hopes of scaring the beast off.
My girlfriend's broken elbow happened at the worst possible time, because it ruined my plans to break her heart.
You see, after a year of dating, I realized I was miserable.
We fought all the time, and it was abundantly clear this was a toxic relationship. I wanted to end things that November, but it seemed cruel to do it when we had Thanksgiving plans with her family.
I wanted to be a "nice guy" by breaking up with her at just the right moment.
Which, of course, couldn't be in December with Christmas and New Year's Eve coming up. I figured the holiday dead zone of mid-January would be a safe bet.
But back to the night in the emergency room.
It was Dec. 29, and my girlfriend was going to be in a cast for a few weeks, which meant she needed me to drive her to work. No chance I could dump her while she was injured and still keep my “nice guy” card.
I admit it. I began counting down the days until she was free from her cast and I could break free from the shackles of guilt that bound me to her.
Finally, her arm healed and she was able to once again work the gear shift in her Saturn.
We got into another bad fight, and that was it for me. I was done. No more waiting for the perfect moment. My obligation was over. It was now or never. So I broke up with her on Feb. 13 ... the day before Valentine’s Day.
Which, it turns out, is a much worse time to be dumped than on Thanksgiving or Christmas or your birthday or New Year's Eve or even Arbor Day.
My weak attempt to be the nice guy ended up turning me into the biggest jerk ever.
The lesson here is, if you're headed toward a bad breakup, don’t slam on your brakes or try to swerve around it.
That will only increase the damage.
The author is a comedy writer who lives in Los Angeles. You can find him on Twitter @burkhartbrandon.
L.A. Affairs chronicles the search for love in and around Los Angeles. If you have comments or a true story to tell, email us at LAAffairs@latimes.com.
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