Caught in the Act of Observing
At least once a month my husband and I take our 12 and 13-year old girls to the local skating rink. It’s a big place, housed in what was a WWII hangar on the old Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn — hence the name Aviator Sports and Recreation.
They have two rinks. One for ice hockey and one for figure skating. Between them is a concession they call the Aviator Cafe. It sells really good brick-oven pizza, pretty good sandwiches, soft drinks, coffee, and an assortment of health and power snacks. On the outskirts of a grouping of aluminum tables, and standing agains the walls are a variety of arcade type electronic games. Two swinging doors lead to a basketball court. Way at the other end of the facility a gymnastics class is being taught and they have an indoor rock-climbing set-up near that.
My husband and I watched the girls on the ice for about an hour, then decided to thaw out over a cup of coffee. That night they had an ice hockey game going on in the other rink. So, the place was crawling with dads who had come to see their sons on the ice. Since I was ensconced on a seat next to my husband, I decided this was a good time to observe the physicality of how fathers relate to their sons. We have girls, and daddy relating to his “little women” is a completely different ball game.
I wanted to get a firm picture of the nitty-gritty of fathers and sons so I can reproduce it on paper. How do men smile at their sons, move their arms when they draw the boys into a bear hug? What is the precise physical movement?
I was furtive, not wanting to intrude on personal family moments. One man thrust his chest out and beamed at two other men as he bragged a bit on his son. I duly noted the chest thrust. I caught a man scolding his son, quickly took in as much of the scene as I could and averted my eyes, not wanting to embarass the boy.
I watched body language — the tilt of a head, a man’s girth shaking as he laughed, another’s hands on his hips, yet another’s proud smile directed at his son. My gaze traveled across the rest of the room, catching dads carrying trays laden with pizza and drinks to their sons waiting at tables re-lacing skates. All this fodder for my upcoming novels — which I’m hoping to sell gads of.
So my eyes were sweeping the scene on thier return recon mission, going back across the room, when a certain man caught me checking him out for the second time. He stared back, directly at me — hard. I scooted closer to my husband and wanted to shout out at hm, “Don’t worry about it. I’m a writer.”
Aviator Figure Skating Rink