Roller Skating Fiasco
My life has been one of many embarrassing moments, and fitting in has never been one of my strong suits. I’m ninety-two percent positive that I could give Napoleon Dynamite a run for his money.
Growing up in the 70s and early 80s, roller skating was the coolest thing a kid could do. Unless you were skate challenged as I was. And there was no excuse for my not knowing how because a skating rink was within walking distance from my home.
Even with all the hours spent navigating the oval floor, I never seemed to get the hang of it. The desire to be awesome, through mastering the art of roller skating, was there; it just wasn’t working out for me. My middle initial is C, which does not stand for “coordination.”
Upon entering the building, I found the flashy multicolored kaleidoscopic lights, the smell of hot buttery popcorn, and the sweet sound of Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” so mesmerizing. Everything they had to offer was there for the taking.
Waiting in line to rent a pair of skates intensified the anticipation. Watching the more experienced kids with all their skill and bravado was too much. I wanted to be just like them with every part of my being, and the employees handing out the skates were taking way too long … .
There were many type of identifiable skate techniques and personalities:
The Skate Ninja — This kid crouched while slicing through the crowded floor in stealth mode, barely brushing by everyone without making a sound or even moving the “Air that I Breathe.”
The Testosteroller — This guy barreled around the rink at warp speed. Nitrous oxide has never been proven to be used in the skates, but small children were sometimes blown out of the rink by the ripple in the space–time continuum.
The Damsel in Distress — She, with her cute really tightly permed hair and huge bangs, just couldn’t seem to figure out this skating thing. She usually would wink or use the pouty lip to get the attention of one of the Testosterollers. This tactic worked like a tractor beam and sent a guy to her “rescue.” With his hands on her waist, he would whisk her around as if he was Superman giving Lois Lane her first personal flight around Metropolis.
The Roller Bully — This guy usually would seek out people with hats or other removable articles of clothing. Once he pulled up beside the kid as if he was in the car race scene from Grease, the Roller Bully would look directly into the victim’s eyes, snatch the loose item, and spin to skate in reverse so as not to break eye contact.
The Wall Clingers — These people, no matter what you said or did, were NOT going out there! Coming to the skating rink seemed like a good idea, however it just wasn’t going to happen. Maybe next time?
The Most Popular Girl in School — As she gracefully circled the rink as if being pushed across the calm ocean by 100 trained dolphins, her long straight flowing hair would dance across the air currents in sync with the swishing of her skates. And as she passed by, all the mesmerized boys’ heads would slowly turn to follow her every move. You could see their eyes glazing over as scenes from romantic movies played in their heads.
I heard that the power of her beauty was so devastating and the rarity of her gaze so startling that if she actually looked in your direction, the sound of glass breaking could be heard when your heart shattered in your chest.
The What-were-you-thinking-putting-on-those-skates-you-should-have-stayed-home-and-played-Dungeons-and-Dragons-with-your-friends Guy — That would be me. Seeing me skate was like watching a cross between a daddy-long-legs trying to climb a plate glass window and an orangutan trying to break-dance.
So my technique to make it around the rink went like this: left foot—stay on the ground at all times; right foot—use the little rubber circle thingy near the toes to push forward like a skateboarder; hands—whatever it took to keep from falling over.
Momentum seemed to be achievable, but turning and stopping were major problems.
The metal safety rails in place around the rink were there just to keep people like me from plowing into the crowd. The spaces between the rails were the windows of opportunity to stop.
Whenever I would arrive at the opening between the rails, the raised area on the other side would catch my skate, immediately stop all forward motion, and flop me to the floor like a sack of flour.
Thank goodness for carpeting. However embarrassing, my technique was semi-effective.
On one particular day, upon gaining speed with my one-leg method, excitement was building as I successfully leaned just enough to turn the curve without falling or hitting the rails.
In my victorious and enthusiastic “I’m the king of the world” bliss, I failed to notice that I was rushing up to “The Most Popular Girl in School.”
As if she had just been snatched from The Matrix, she stood there in mid-skate, frozen in time. Our inevitable, inescapable collision jarred everything back into motion.
I wrapped myself around her as if I were a spider monkey climbing a tree, and took her down to the floor, twining us into the most awkward human pretzel.
In sheer embarrassment and after profuse apologies, we untangled ourselves. I popped up like a jack-in-the-box, and as fast as the one-leg method would take me, I skated to the opening; splatted on the carpet in a tuck roll; and quickly made it to the boys restroom, where I usually hid during couple skate time.
As the smell of her perfume that still clung to my clothes broke through the usual rancid scent of the boys restroom, I realized that “Hey, I just got a girl to notice me!“
However, despite that particular attraction, I probably never went back to that skating rink again … .
What was one of your most embarrassing moments?