I haven’t been rollerskating since I dragged a visiting Andrea there last September. We’re always so busy trying to get the most out of the fall weather that we just can’t fit rollerskating into our Sunday schedules. And then comes the fucking holiday season, which is even more manic. All throughout December, I kept saying to Henry, “I just can’t wait for this shit to be over so we can go back to skating regularly.” Thank god for winter! (I never in a million years would have imagined my fingers would type that horrible sentence.)
Henry still has to lace my skates for me. And since Chooch actually wanted to come with us this time, he had to lace his too. I was angry that he laced Chooch’s first. What a fucking slap to the face.
Our absence did not go unnoticed by Roller DJ, who lectured and guilted me from his DJ Booth Throne. He kept reminding me that we could have come out on Saturday nights, but let me tell you something about Saturday nights at the roller rink: They fucking suck and remind me over and over again how much I really loathe the human race. It was a Saturday night when I took Andrea there in September and it was just miserable. There were some cool jammers there, but the ratio of decent humans to fucking idiotic teenagers was way too imbalanced to ever get me to come back. The whole time I was skating, I could just sense that they were ridiculing me, like I was in a bad anti-bullying promo on MTV. And then Andrea fell and they really did openly ridicule her.
“The clubs are still open after the Saturday night session is over! Come skate, then go to the club!” he retorted.
Because I really look like a club kid, I guess. Must be those shapeless jeans and hoodies I commonly wear to the rink.
“I usually have other obligations on Saturday nights,” I blurted out to Roller DJ, who was really applying the pressure.
“What’s his name?” he laughed.
“What? Oh my god, no! I’m not talking about a guy,” I yelled.
“So then what’s her name?” he asked under a glaze of chauvinistic slime.
“Goodbye, Roller DJ!” I half-sang, stepping onto the rink.
I really missed our talks.
Chooch seemed pretty perplexed when he saw me loitering by the DJ booth.
“Mommy, who were you talking to?” he cried, probably because he’s so used to me shirking away from even the flimsiest social altercation. I explained to him Roller DJ’s purpose and told him that if there was a song he wanted to hear, he could ask Roller DJ to play it.
“Do you think he’ll play ‘Party Rock’?” he asked all seriously. “Go tell him to play it.” He’s going through a heavy (and alarming) LMFAO phase. I probably shouldn’t have bought him their most recent CD for Christmas, which came with a large temporary tattoo that has been on his stomach for the last week. He likes to flash it at school so his classmates will know that he’s sorry for party rocking.
“I’m sure he’s going to play it at some point,” I said before leaving Chooch in my dust. I had some serious child-slaloming to partake in.
Something happened since the last time Chooch was there in August; I’m not sure what exactly, but it changed him. He actually wanted to skate as opposed to sitting on the bench, draining my phone’s battery. Most of the time, Henry wasn’t even holding his hand on the rink. And he was skating, really skating, not stumble-walking along the wall like he would normally surrender to. I was so fucking proud. This of course is no thanks to me, because I’m always too preoccupied with skating as fast as I can to be bothered to slow down and lend my child a hand.
Henry is always saying, “Why don’t you teach him? He should learn from you,” clearly acknowledging that I’m the more excelsior skater in the family. But I’m always trying to remind him that I don’t know how to teach someone to skate, since I was born with all of the skillz. No one had to teach me! I just put skates one day and knew.
This always makes Henry roll his eyes. I guess the truth annoys him.
Eventually, Chooch skated over to me and said, with an exasperated sigh, “Fine. Take me over to Roller DJ.” So I led him over to the music booth and Chooch yelled up to him, “Are you going to play Party Rock?” and just his tone alone was priceless, like he was so annoyed that he even had to ask such a stupid question.
“I got it coming on, buddy,” Roller DJ assured him, and Chooch made one more agrivated sigh before skating back out onto the rink. Sure enough, “Party Rock” was the next song to come on and Chooch erupted into this hearty cheer, but then caught himself and bit his lip in embarrassment, like he was ashamed or something. I was like, “No dude, BE HAPPY! CHEER! It’s OK!” It was the most awesome thing ever to witness my kid getting that first taste of music request fulfillment. The music is the best part of skating! I can still remember getting so excited to hear New Edition or Michael Jackson, Tears For Fears or Men At Work when I was in elementary school and tearin’ it up at Spinning Wheels. Nothing* beats that rush of hearing the first couple of notes of your jam.
*(Except for maybe if Jonny Craig was there singing my jams to me personally.)
(Oh god, Jonny Craig.)
At my birthday party last summer, every single song that came on that night was one of my jams. It was the most amazing skating experience of my life. You don’t go to a regular skate session and get to do laps to Dance Gavin Dance or Billy Ocean. It was such a perfectly schizophrenic mix of music.
And now my kid is finally starting to get it.
Earlier in the skate session, Chooch was sitting at the table right near the refreshment counter and decided quite early on that he couldn’t stand the way one of the employees was yelling “PIZZA!” every time a new slice was ready to be claimed. Eventually, he started mocking her loudly enough that we had to take him back out to the rink. He was SO PISSED about her pizza caterwauling and was acting like an elderly man about it. You have to admire a 5-year-old with balls.
We were in the snack room again when Roller DJ announced that it was time for the next Couple Skate just as the opening bassline of Mr. Mister’s “Broken Wings” began pulsating through the roller drome. I lost my shit right then and there, in the snack room, in front of a herd of Orange Crush-stained children. Completely threw my arms up and yelled, “Are you fucking kidding me?” That is one of my favorite slow jams OF ALL TIME and I had to miss skating to it because when Chooch is with us, the term “couple” gets chucked right out thw window. Not that we’re the definition of it when we’re without him, but at least then we can actually pretend to skate close so I don’t have to miss out on cruising beneath rainbow track lights to some hot sex ballad.
When Chooch is with us, we have to forfeit our right to indulge in such frivolous acts of amour because we can’t very well leave a 5-year-old unattended on the bench. I mean, I suppose we could. But that’s not the sort of parental class I want to be a card-carrier for.
So instead, I sit around and stew and make my kid feel like shit for being born all because mama can’t skate to motherfucking Mr. Mister.
Henry was irritated that he’d have to take off his hat at the rink, lest he get the whistle blown on him, so he started practicing taking it off in the car. God Henry, what’s the point of having Kristy McNichol locks if you’re not going to let them flow freely?
The rink ref from my birthday party was there on Sunday. We exchanged pleasant smiles and a quick salutation as we whirled past each other, acknowledging that we did indeed recognize one another, but he and Henry totally bro’d out, slapped each other on the backs, exchanged knowing glances and head nods, acted like this was the sweetest reunion of their lives. Boys are so fucking weird.
It happened during one of the 18 & up skates. Henry and Chooch were spectating from the bench as I skated around with all the other accomplished and capable adult skaters in an indulgent anti-children glory. That’s when I saw him, that bald-headed sweat fountain who kept trying to court me on quads during the last adult skate Henry and I attended last spring. Oh, I wanted to die. I just kept praying he didn’t see me, kept trying to make a beard with my hair to disguise myself, wishing for a lever to pull to open up the floor beneath me and shoot me off to a preferable hell.
Of course we made eye contact and he kept trying to skate up next to me like this was some low-budget student production of Xanadu and we were mere pawns in some greater love story. It’s easy to fall prey to the 1980s fluorescent romanticism of roller skating—Christ, HENRY looks attractive to me out there on the rink—but I was already duped by this flashy jammer once and I was not going to let him reel me in again.
Not even when he did a FLIP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE RINK, YOU GUYS.
Didn’t do a thing for me.
Not a thing.
All the little pre-pubescent girls kneeling on the benches squealed in delight though.
Imagine an afterschool special where some Opie motherfucker NARCs on all the cool kids smoking in the roller rink bathroom, starring Henry McNichol-hair as the Opie NARC motherfucker. That’s what flashes through my brain every time I see Henry rollerskating.
I want to write about all the people there I hated, but I will keep it to myself, lest I get another disappointed Tweeter telling me they hope I find happiness someday. I apparently give off the impression that I am very embittered. But now that I think about it, there really weren’t too many people I hated. I mean, aside from the kids, but that’s a given. You are reading Oh Honestly, Erin, after all.
However, there was a lady when we first got there that gave me the stink eye a few times, causing me to say loudly to Henry, “That broad is going to look at me one more time…” which in turn made Chooch stand up, crane his head all around, and yell, “What broad, mommy? That one? Where, mommy? WHAT BROAD, MOMMY?”
Aside from learning that there probably won’t be any adult nights under the new ownership (I am so full of dislike over this), it felt so good to be there again, especially now that Chooch genuinely likes it and even said he wants to have his birthday party there. A bunch of Kindergartners (and Barb) sprawled out on the rink like pins in a round of human bowling—should be a good time.