Way back in 2005, Henry, Janna and I used to sometimes frequent the Valarena Roller Rink. Somehow, we missed the memo that the Neville Rollerdrome was alive and kicking, which is a shame considering it’s approximately 45 minutes less of a drive than Valarena.
But now the Rollerdrome has new owners and I dislike the atmosphere of that rink, so I suggested that we give the ol’ Valarena another try because I don’t want to give these other assholes any more of my money. Henry didn’t seem very pleased about this, because it’s about an hour away, but he quietly donned his Whipping Boy status and drove Chooch and me out to Apollo, PA, which means nothing to anyone. I was pretty excited about it because from what I remembered about the Valarena, they had the perfect roller rink snack room pizza.
We arrived ten minutes before the skate session started and were made to stand outside in the cold winter rain.
The McNichol-locks are BACK, you guys!
Chooch was sick last week and still a little sniffly, so Henry took him back to the car while I held our spots in line. Not like it was super-crowded, but there of course had to be some dumb bitch’s birthday party that day so a small crowd had formed within the next several minutes. There are several steps to get inside the rink, which is right near a road, so the line formed an l-shape, with several people standing on the steps and then everyone else lined up on the sidewalk along the road. An older “uncle”-type arrived with two teenage girls and some younger child of unidentifiable gender, and instead of standing in the back of the line, they encroached on my bubble at the bottom of the steps and before long, one of the bitch-teenagers was standing next to me and trying to get her footing on the step in front of us, which I had intentionally not stepped on because my face would have been planted inside the ass of the mom-type in front of me.
So this went on, this push and pull of line domination, before the door was finally unlocked and I texted Henry and Chooch to come back. Henry got in the back of the line because he’s a dumbass, but Chooch joined me on the steps and greeted me by calling me a racist. WTF?
Since Chooch doesn’t care about planting his face in some strange mom-type’s ass, I placed him in front of me so that we were in the lead again.
I honestly can’t stand people trying to elbow their way to the front. And Creepy Uncle just stood by and let this happen because he’s an asshole too.
So now I’m already fuming and we haven’t paid yet, which is never the way you want to start things. And then HENRY was still outside when it was our turn at the skate rental counter (yes, the bitch-teenagers tried to worm their way in front of me here too; I’m surprised they didn’t just mount the counter) so I had to guess a size for Chooch because neither of us knew what size he wears! Ugh, we are so dependent on Henry, it’s sickening.
And apparently I don’t know my own size either, which I realized as soon as Henry finally paid and entered the rink. I tore the too-big skates off my feet, thrust them at him and hissed, “GET ME A SMALLER SIZE.” And then Chooch needed a bigger size so he hurled his skates at Henry, too. Henry tried to shoot us a threatening stare and failed.
The rink was way more awful than I remembered—it wasn’t that beautiful wood floor that I had grown accustomed to at the Rollerdrome, but some kind of ugly seafoam painted cement with tons of nicks throughout. (There’s roller hockey that happens here, so I guess that’s why the floor isn’t wood. SEE WHAT I DID THERE? I used my brain.) Which was a shame, because those skates, the correctly-sized ones, were perfection as far as rentals go! The tongues were all soft and pillowy and the wheels spun with recently-oiled efficiency. I strongly considered stealing them, even though the skate rental broad held my boots as collateral.
I took a couple warm-up laps and immediately found something to hate about every single person there. At the Valarena, parents can walk on the rink in their shoes and no one gives a damn. So not only did I have to contend with skating-impaired children and obnoxious roller bladers, I now had to be mindful of dawdling moms meandering about the rink like they’re at Wal-Mart looking for discounted Hostess cakes. Also, the rink is SMALL. Probably only half the size of Rollerdrome. I kept doing that super cute thing I do where I turn my nose up and make stank-face because OMG I’m too good for this place. (34 years I’ve been trying to outgrow this horrible personality flaw.) Henry noticed my scowl and immediately got all huffy with me for not being completely enamored with this redneck roller warehouse and then got REALLY huffy when I yelled over top of Journey’s Wheels in the Sky that “I JUST WANT TO GO HOME!” within 10 minutes of lacing-up.
I was pouting alone on the uncomfortable carpeted bench, so I didn’t get to see what happened next, but Henry told me that this kid I originally thought was just a really short 4-year-old but turned out to be a teenaged midget had speed-skated past Chooch and pushed him, so now Chooch was pissed off too and wanted to leave because that place sucked. I was really angry about this, not because some diminutive jerk pushed my kid, but because some broad got on the mic as soon as the session started to remind everyone that there was to be NO SPEED SKATING.
Later, I saw the rink ref (the same broad who was renting skates) squat down to hug him, so it was all crystal clear from that point on. These place was teeming with townie-ism.
My other big beef with this joint is that there is a doorway leading straight from the snack room to the rink, so recently-caffeinated children can whiz right on out to the skate floor without looking. When we were standing outside before the rink opened, I heard some man talking about the time he was knocked over by some kid skating out of the snack room and ended up breaking his arm, but I didn’t think anything of it until I saw it almost happen 87 times that afternoon. I guess I never noticed the dangers of this doorway when we used to go there for adult skate back in the day, because there were only ever about 10 people there on those nights.
Oh! And then we got to play this fucked-up game called Crazy Skate where a siren would play several times during a song and everyone would have to switch directions, which is a really fun game to play with a floorful of people who can’t skate for shit, where “really fun” is German for DANGER DANGER. There was this gawky lady with 1980s ginger feathered hair and a dopey, blank expression clomping around the entire time in the wrong direction and it never failed that she would be right up in my business every time the siren sounded and I spun around.
The pizza wasn’t as good as I remembered, but that’s probably because the snack room was infested with non-skating parents and birthday party brats, so we couldn’t sit at a table. Instead, we sat on stools in front of the prize counter, basically in everyone’s way, and one of the bitch-teenagers was in my direct line of vision the whole time.
Bitch-teenager in white shirt at 12 o’clock. (That’s 12 o’clock, right?)
There was a crowd of kids watching Chooch and if I were him, I’d have had to run into the bathroom and dry heave.
No one gets eliminated from Limbo. Seriously. I’m surprised they didn’t give all the kids trophies too. Also, I was really excited to tweet that I was placing my bet on the midget to win at Limbo, but then he didn’t even participate! He just sat against the wall, texting all the bitches in the dwarfetishism community.
Afterward, Henry was in the snack room ordering Chooch a drink (there was this whole fight about a drink earlier which I tuned out because it didn’t involve me) and Chooch and I were sulking on the bench, when a couple skate was announced. As Chooch and I took the floor, he started laughing hysterically.
“Daddy just pushed some broad!” he wheezed.
By the time I was able to look over, I saw Henry polluting the doorway of the snack room, but I didn’t see any downed bitch. Sadness! After couple skate was over, Henry skated out and tried to play like nothing happen so I started pressing him for info.
“I didn’t PUSH anyone. Some lady started to fall and I tried to catch her but it was too late,” he barked and then sighed wearily. This was starting to sound suspiciously more and more like a certain case of Henry vs. Wheelchair Lady at the Ted Nugent Show.
Later, he pointed out the lady who fell and it was the fucking dopey bitch from the 80s.
“Oh,” I waved a hand in the air, dismissing the whole thing. “She’s a fucking nuisance. It was only a matter of time before she fell, so she deserved it.”
Meanwhile, the rink ref was scrubbing vomit or some other type of bodily fluid off the floor by the bathroom, and then an area of the rink had to be cordoned off with tiny orange cones because supposedly water was leaking in from the side door, but I’m not entirely convinced there hadn’t been a murder in that spot.
This scary old Russian man was the only good skater there, without being a flashy dick about it. (And also, not flashing his dick about it.) Also, this is one of the few times the rink ref was not found with a sponge or towel in her hand.
So, the pros are:
- decent pizza
- buttery skates
- the entire population of small-town Apollo goes there so we reeked of Outsider.
- far away
- shittastically dangerous skate floor
- too small to contain my greatness
- that unfortunately-placed snack room door
- it’s just gross
- people bleed there
Next up, we’re going to revisit the Valley Skate Center, which has the most majestic skate floor you could imagine BUT has really shitty people working there, no order on the rink, comically terrible rental skates (which wouldn’t be a problem if I just BOUGHT MY OWN SKATES, I know!), not to mention the last time we were there, I caused a scene.
But if we go to that one and it still doesn’t “feel just right,” then I think it’s pretty clear that I need to just build my own rink. Or settle for the Rollerdrome. (I know: wow, what problems, right? But sometimes it’s easier to dwell on these insignificant little things rather than cry myself to sleep every night over Real Life.)