NIGHT ON THE TILES
LET IT SLIDE: INFORMER SLIPS INTO SOMETHING MORE COMFORTABLE TO CELEBRATE THE SHEER STUPENDOUSNESS OF SKIDDING
Ascenario to set the scene: Informer is 56, my son is 26 and we are wearing socks. All of which informs Informer’s observation that as much as we humans may think ourselves superior, it ain’t necessarily so.
For starters, there are qualities that unite all species and for which superiority has no meaning, such as the need to eat, drink, sleep and reproduce. However, if one thing undoubtedly separates humans from the pack, it is that which explains the introduction to today’s rectangle. I refer, of course, to our need to skid.
This week Mrs Informer polished the tiles. No, that’s not a euphemism for anything unsavoury, but it does explain why Informer and son spent an hour repeatedly pushing off the front door and tearing down the hallway, in our socks, in search of maximum momentum for optimum skidding.
One of my efforts was so impressive that as I glided past the spare bedroom I confess to unleashing the skidders’ time-honoured cry: “Wheeeee!” The human propensity for skidding struck as I was scrolling through Facebook, which lately has been filled with snaps of mates on ski trips. They’re in New Zealand, the Australian Alps and elsewhere, all going downhill fast and loving it. Informer never took to skiing, but if you add Pamela Anderson – a double D, in other words – then skiing becomes skidding and immediately I’m a happier chappie.
We humans will do anything to include skidding in our lives and I reckon we should celebrate the fact. As The Who have so often affirmed: the skids are all right.
I played footy as a boy – proper AFL footy, not soccer, rugby league or the one the Wallabies are nearly always useless at – and it was always best on wet days when you skidded from one end of the field to the other.
That’s why rugby league players dive across the try-line and why soccer players fall to their knees after scoring a goal. It’s for the unbridled joy of skidding. In motorsport too, drivers risk life and limb not for anything so dull as series points, champagne showers or stupidly huge trophies. They do so for the thrill of post-race doughnuts and wheelies that are, quite clearly, prime examples of the human-machine skidding nexus. Ice skating and ice dancing epitomise artistic skidding. The most memorable demonstration of this was Torvill and Dean’s take on Ravel’s Bolero, the climax of which had D flinging T across the I in a manoeuvre that is breathtakingly dramatic, yet still a skid.
Furthermore, you’d hardly be surprised if, behind Torvill’s stoic expression as she swished towards the rink halfway line, she too expressed her elation via a heartfelt though necessarily whispered: “Wheeeee!”
Skidding is everywhere. Clowns slipping on banana peels is skidding for laughs. Surfing is wet skidding, as are waterskiing and those backyard waterslides that children love. They should call those things kiddie-skiddies.
We have slip lanes, slide rules and glide paths. We wear slips and slippers. All are manufactured representations of our innate need to skid.
Michael Jackson’s moonwalk, Tom Cruise’s entry in Risky Business, the luge, the Iditarod, skipping stones across a pond, sliding down banisters or Informer and son on newly polished tiles – proof abounds that humans not only do skid, but must skid.
Ironic, isn’t it? You can’t ignore the facts, even when you’ve got to be skidding.
“AS THE WHO HAVE SO OFTEN AFFIRMED: THE SKIDS ARE ALL RIGHT.”