After spending the better part of this new year wilting under the spell of some unknown illness, I was so very ready to get out of the house and strap some old school skates over my Valentine hearted knee highs. Most of last Saturday found me spontaneously erupting with excited outbursts like, “OMG skating tomorrow!” and “One more day, I can hardly wait!” and “This time tomorrow I might be finding a new lover!” What? Not like I’m actively looking or anything.
And then came Sunday, the official skating day. We had to wait for Janna and Blake to get here and of course I was acting a fool, pacing, swearing, running my hands through my hair. When they arrived, I could see Janna was in the mood to sit a spell, but I quickly ushered everyone back out the door and we were on our way to Neville Roller Drome, where Stacey was meeting us.
This was the first time any of us have been to this rink and it was AWESOME. Totally old school and un-fancified, just like I prefer. And even better – the Asshole Population was low. The rink was much bigger than the other place we used to go, at least based on my warped memory.
“OMG you guys, they’re playing my Justin Bieber joint!”
Stacey had read up on my retro posts and was not surprised when Janna kept flitting off to exchange her roller blades for another size or slip into the ladies room to do some blow. Stacey would laugh knowingly and then return to her desperate agenda of out-skating me.
There is just something so therapeutic about rolling across a warped wooden rink that even stale Top 40 songs sound Really Fucking Good. I didn’t think about any of that real world bullshit. Fuck bills, fuck the economy, fuck Jay Leno – for those three hours I was back in 5th grade with a blond side ponytail, white high-topped skates with pink wheels and rainbow laces, a Kids R Us sweatshirt decorated with puffy bears, flirting with boys at our school skating parties at Spinning Wheels. (And by flirting I mean skating past a boy and asking my friends, “DID HE LOOK AT ME? DID HE SEE ME?”) I used to live for those skating parties. “Heart and Soul” by T’Pau would come on and it’d be so intense. SO INTENSE.
We were prepared for Chooch to hate it, but the moment his plastic-wheeled feet hit the rink, he was like, “HELL YEAH BITCHES.” Henry looked pained because he was the designated training wheel, therefore unable to skate fast and free like his inner child-of-the-70s was begging.
Henry pushed Chooch down, derby-style, on purpose at one point, in hopes that it would dash Chooch’s skating dreams. But Chooch just laughed and got right back up again. Because he’s my son, and people that surf out of my uterus don’t give up. (Or in Chooch’s case, sliced-and-pulled out of my uterus.) After awhile, he was flat-out rejecting the steady hand of adults and even threw in some advanced jumps. That’s my kid – go big or go home.
When the octogenarian inside the music booth announced in his George Burns-voice that it was time for Couple Skate, I knew it was on. I shoved Chooch at Janna and barked, “Here, go take him to play a game or some shit” and then I dragged a reluctant Henry onto the rink, forced his hand into my sweaty paw, and pulled him around to the tune of some unknown country-cross over ballad. Even Stacey didn’t know what song it was, so it MUST have been as bad as it sounded. Henry looked pained, his thick brow all catawumpus and furrowed, stands of gray glistening under the disco ball-reflected lights. Then I started thinking about us being skating assassins and I couldn’t stop cracking up. I tried to invite Henry in on the joke but he declined.
The second couple skate was to the sexed-up tunes of some unidentifiable R&B track; as I circled the rink again with Henry (who looked violated), all I could think was that it sounded like a black Phil Collins. Thanks to the racy sax interludes, I felt like there was a chance I could be pregnant by the time the song ended and we left the rink. Stacey had worked up the nerve to invite Blake to skate with her for this couple go-around. They didn’t hold hands, but they sure looked happy….
….unlike here, where they were clearly in a skating coma. This was after Stacey attempted to raise the roof and promptly ass-kissed the floor. Definitely one of the highlights! I told her to just blame Henry, who was right behind her when it happened and I noticed this suspicious pattern of kids winding up sprawling on the rink with arms knotted and legs pretzel’d in Henry’s wake.
I won’t even try to deny the fact that I like that Ke$ha song, “Tic Toc.” And paired with roller skates and racing rainbow track lights, that song is THE ANTHEM. By the time it ended, I was like, “More! Again! One more time!”
After about an hour or so of straight skating, I yelled over to Janna and Stacey, “Hey, let’s go get a drink after this song!” But when it ended, the old man-DJ announced it was time for reverse skate and I was all, “Oh hell no, mama’s not missing this shiz” so Janna and Stacey, having already stumbled off the rink, hung out along the benches waiting for me. As that song was ending, I began to pass Janna and she yelled, “Are you coming?” but “Bad Romance” had JUST COME ON so I shouted back, “No, I love this song!”
Janna threw her arms up exasperatedly and retreated to the snack bar without me.
Let me just say that the ultimate Lady Gaga experience can be had on a roller rink. Possibly it would be better if someone had slapped an acid tab on my tongue, and I had all the Queen’s diamonds magnetizing toward my unitarded-torso, but who am I to ask for so much. Skating to Gaga for some reason triggered sweet memories of post-dinner basement skates while Sanford & Son and One Day at a Time played on the small TV in the background. Those were the days.
Sadly, “Bad Romance” had run its course, so I very nimbly exited the rink with the grace of the holiest angel. Or Jennifer Aniston; she seems like she’d be graceful on skates. By the time I made it to the snack bar, Janna, Blake and Stacey were all sitting around a table, properly beverageinated. Realizing I didn’t have any cash on me and that Henry was still on the rink with Chooch, I pleaded for Janna to spot me. Hooo boy was she pissed. There went the arms! There went the eye-roll! There went the disgusted phlegm gurgle! Apparently, Blake had also asked her for money and she was starting to feel like a parental unit or something. What? I felt it wasn’t enough that the entire rink already assumed she was my son’s mom, why not try to finagle an allowance out of her too?
In the end, I got my Mountain Dew because it is written in the Bible that Janna cannot deny me.
Oh boy, soon it was time for Limbo! We kept trying to get Blake to go out there but he was all, “No, no, hell no.” Finally, we convinced him that it was the best idea anyone had ever had, even better than putting peanut butter and jelly in the same jar, even better than making porn downloadable, even better than giving this asshole her own Internet property. So off Blake skated, to the back of a line in which he was the tallest by at least a foot.
When it was his turn, he split his pants.
Like, really split his pants.
Like, split his pants to the point where it was too obscene for me to even take a picture of it unless I wanted to have at least a dozen unsavory labels slapped on my record.
He handled it better than I would have. Had it been me, Henry would have had to rush home and clear the house of all prescription bottles, nooses, and razor blades.
Shockingly, witnessing Blake’s folly inspired Chooch to give it a go, and he tugged Janna onto the rink with him. I didn’t even realize what was going on until I saw them skating to the back of the line together. On his first skating foray, my kid did the Limbo and cleared the pole without falling on his ass. I was so proud! The guys holding the poles were like, “Dude you made it! You get to go again!” but Chooch was all, “Nah, cuz. It’s cool. I just wanted to do it that once.”
Then came the wobbly-voiced DJ again, reminding us that is was “Gentleman’s Couple Skate. This is now Gentleman’s Couple Skate.” I looked at Stacey and shouted, “Dude, that’s so progressive!” but then he came back on over the loud speakers to correct himself. It was actually Gentleman’s Choice. Since Henry doesn’t have a say in anything, I forced him to trade Chooch’s hand for mine. Stacey wanted Chooch to choose her, but he got real nervous and said, “I can’t! My hand’s all sweaty!” That means he really likes her. He’s shy around his crushes. He ended up skating with Janna, while Stacey kept Blake and his exposed crotch company on the bench.
Wow, that sounded so innocent.
Once the song was over, I was dismayed to find that Stacey and Blake had already exchanged their skates for their shoes, and even more dismayed to see that the session was nearly over. I was overheated as shit, but I wanted more! More more more! Everyone assured me that the world wasn’t ending and that we could come back soon. But soon for me would have been ten minutes later.
I miss it there so much already. And I didn’t even have any pizza! I was so busy skating that I didn’t stop once to eat lunch. That’s how awesome it was there.
Later that night, I said to Henry, “Remember when we couple-skated and you didn’t ask me to marry you?”
“I also didn’t ask you to skate,” he pointed out.