The outdoor rink in downtown Kansas City had just opened for the winter season. None of us were skilled at ice skating, but we laughed and carried on while attempting to do so. Captain and I hung onto the rail along the edge for dear life, trying not to fall. Nerd was the bravest out of the three of us. He skated away from the railing into the center of the rink. He fell repeatedly and kept getting up to try again.
I laughed so hard that my sides hurt. “Stay next to the railing,” I gasped as I tried unsuccessfully to stop.
“He’s on a suicide mission,” Captain interjected. “Just let him go. He’s going to be hurting tomorrow, though.”
I skated away from the rail a little bit and held out my hand to Nerd. “Grab on, and I’ll help you.” He reached up and grabbed onto my hand, stuck his toe pick in the ice for leverage, and attempted to stand. I wasn’t strong enough, and I lost my balance, landing on my butt.
Captain doubled over, howling from the safety of the railing.
Nerd turned in his direction and shouted, “Laugh it up, fuzz ball!”
This caused Captain to hoot even harder, gasping for breath. Nerd and I crawled over to the side and used the railing to pull ourselves upright.
One of the skating attendants stopped next to us. “You guys okay?”
“We’re okay,” Nerd responded. “You might want to check on the hyena next to us.” He nodded his head towards Captain, who had almost recovered from his laughing fit.
“You need to keep moving or get off the ice. You’re blocking the flow.” He stated kindly.
“Okay, thanks. We’re moving.” Nerd grabbed my hand, and we skated over to the benches. Captain followed behind us. We decided to retire our skates and go get some food.
We stopped off at a Waffle House for hot chocolate and French fries. I could tell that these two had a special bond; they teased each other without mercy the whole evening.
“How long have you two been friends?” I asked as I munched on some fries.
Nerd looked at Captain. “Was it fourth or fifth grade?”
“Fifth grade. We both had a crush on Miss Nelson, our student teacher. We liked to compete for her attention, didn’t we? But she was in love with me.” He smirked at Nerd.
“She just took pity on you since you were so homely looking with that bowl haircut.”
“That was actually you as I recall,” Captain retorted. He changed the subject before Nerd could respond. “So, Selina, who’s your favorite country artist?”
I pursed my lips together. “I don’t really know. I don’t listen to country music much.”
His eyes grew wide, and he clutched his chest before throwing a fry in Nerd’s direction. “Put her back where you found her. She’s a damn Yankee if I ever saw one.”
Nerd threw the fry back and glared at Captain. “You’ll have to excuse him. He isn’t housebroken.”
I couldn’t understand what was going on at the moment. I didn’t consider Kansas City to be part of the South, so referring to me as a Yankee confused me. Nerd was about to school me in that.
He turned towards me. “I know you had no idea, but you are sitting in the presence of greatness. Captain here is a local celebrity.”
“I had no idea.” I looked over at Captain, who nodded for Nerd to continue.
“He’s one of the featured artists at the Kansas City Opry here. He performs every other Friday and Saturday night. His heroes are George Straight, Chris LeDoux, and Alabama.” He waited a beat. “He would love to leave us tickets at the box office next Saturday night.” Nerd grinned at him.
“That sounds like fun! I love live music.” I hoped I sounded sincere. Country music certainly wasn’t my first choice on the radio, but I was willing to try anything once. Almost anything.
“Then it’s settled, Yankee Girl.” Captain smirked at me. “Wear your cowgirl boots if you got ‘em.”
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