The city of Waco, Texas, in an attempt to create the simulacra of winter has installed a fake ice rink in the downtown area in order to make people think that it is winter. Today, it was a sunny 72F in central Texas–no winter here, not even a fake one. Apparently, you can skate on this “fake” or plastic ice, but it can’t be the same as skating on frozen water where the pressure of the skate blade creates a thin film of water upon which the blade slides, and as the skate passes, the water freezes again on the surface. The science of ice-skating is actually rather complex. There is also an element of violence in skating that damages the ice surface, so I can’t figure out how a plastic surface can duplicate that particular phenomenon. Plastic ice only functions with a synthetic silicone lubricant that allows the skater to move across the surface. Skates wear out more quickly, and the surface has to be cleaned more frequently. Ice is ice, and nothing can really take its place, no matter how closely the plastic surface simulates real skating. There is nothing like the real thing: ice-skating under the stars, frosty wind on your cheeks, ice glinting under the lights, skates gliding effortlessly over the frozen surface of the rink. Perhaps you are skating with a close friend, talking about nothing, frozen air filling your lungs, maybe a few errant flakes of snow dusting the surface and falling on your face. Plastic ice on a hot day in December doesn’t even come close to simulating those feelings.