Our roller rink announced a few weeks ago that they’d be hosting a special Sunday night Adult Skate on January 30 and I had glorious montages of taking my wheeled feet on that smooth, child-free surface while perhaps some vintage porn was projected against the back wall. (The rink we used to go to pre-Chooch did that, project images on the wall. Usually music videos and not porn, though.) Henry’s sister Kelly saw this as her opportunity to put on skates for the first time in years without worrying about a rink booby-trapped with adolescent limbs, so Henry and I picked her up Sunday evening and left Chooch in her place (with adult supervision, God!).
In the car, the three of us basked in the rare child-free moment, passed around some joints (yeah right, not with Henry the NARC in the car), and just basically enjoyed having a conversation that wasn’t peppered with incessant and increasingly irate bellows of “MOMMY!”
Because I was so excited to get there, we were 30 minutes early. The car we parked next to had a black man sleeping in it. Then we began to notice that each car that arrived brought more black people, not that we were like OH FUCK, BLACK PEOPLE! RUNNNN! We were just noticing that we were the only crackers.
“Maybe it’s Soul Night,” Henry shrugged, without a hint of irony.
Just then, Roller DJ poked his head out of the entrance. I began waving maniacally and he waved back then disappeared inside.
“OMG ROLLER DJ WAVED TO ME DID YOU SEE THAT?!” When I say that I squealed this, please know that I SQUEALED THIS. I was dying, all bent over in the passenger seat, laughing so hard I was beginning to wheeze.
“It doesn’t take much, does it Erin?” Kelly said.
It wasn’t quite 7PM yet, but I noticed that the entrance was open so I started whining about wanting to go in. Henry opted to stay behind and wait for Chris, because he brought his rollerblades from home for him since Chris isn’t awesome enough to rock the quads. Kelly and I got inside and found that no one was behind the ticket window yet, so I started to panic. I popped inside Roller DJ’s booth (literally his DJ booth, this was not an euphemism for his asshole, thank you), waved my arms a little bit and asked, “Well? What are we supposed to do?”
He explained that they weren’t quite set up yet, and I said, a little too zealously, “OK, but I’m really anxious to get started.”
“I can tell,” he answered, a little worriedly.
Standing in the tiny foyer, waiting for the ticket lady to get her empty Folger’s tin set up, I did my Nervous Pee Jig.
“Are you going to be OK?” Kelly asked with a laugh, yet still managing to look slightly concerned. Kelly and I have not ever really officially hung out before, outside of family functions, so the full breadth of my annoying disposition was made available to her for the first time that night.
“I’m just really excited,” I slurred with giddiness.
“Yeah, I can see that.”
The Steel City Rollers
Minutes later, I was on a bench having my laces tightened to tourniquet-strength by Henry (filling in as my Skate Boy for Chris, who hadn’t yet arrived with Kim), I had my upper body twisted around so I could ogle the two people already on the rink. A woman in a red sweater was skate-dancing in the middle of the rink and an older man, who had briefly spoke with Kelly in the parking lot on his way to smoke weed around the side of the building, was skate-squatting with one leg extended. I think I’ll call him Lone Dancer, since he was there by himself and I am so awesome at nomenclature.
One by one, the rink filled up with more of these glorious roller jammers, undulating beneath the blaring R&B that Roller DJ was pumping out per request; I knew immediately that this was going to be quite unlike the adult skates that Henry, Janna and I used to go to on Tuesday nights in 2005, where a middle-aged skinny man donned a suit of spandex and showed us up by leaving us in the fruity wake of his white-boy pirouettes, two old ladies skate-walked around the rink while exchanging recipes and bunyun remedies, and a Snape lookalike clung to the walls while his skates attempted to upend him.
Shit was about to get REAL at this Adult Skate.
While Kelly practiced staying upright in the lane by the lockers, Henry and I officially became The Only White People On the Rink. I watched in awe as everyone else skated with RHYTHM, snapping their fingers to Rihanna and moving their feet fluidly in syncopated steps along with the music. I was all at once fascinated, jealous and determined.
“I want to be a part of their group so bad,” I whined to Henry, as Lone Dancer smoked past us (OH DID YOU GET THAT PUN?!), his shoulders alternating with each other in a rising shimmy. Then he shot out his arms to the side, pointed at Henry and did this finger twinkle thing. “Oh shit, he shot you with SOUL!” I yelled and Henry rolled his eyes. I also caught him doing this move where he wound up his hand and cupped it behind his ear. I wondered if he knew he was emulating Hulk Hogan.
“I gotta get that guy to teach me,” I moaned to Kelly.
“Ask him!” she urged.
“I CAN’T HE’S TOO COOL FOR ME OMG!” I’m not annoying at all to go skating with.
There was this older couple, decked out in their Steel City Rollers shirts, skating in complete sync with each other. I watched in envy as they basically slow-danced together without touching. It was so hot, you guys. True roller romance, and I wanted desperately to get in on this action with Henry.
“OK, I’m going to get in front of you and make up some moves, then you’re going to follow me REAL CLOSE from behind. Make sure you do what I do,” I called out over top of Kanye West and glided in front of Henry.
“You can’t get in front of me and then STOP!” Henry yelled, as we nearly collapsed into a very non-hot, unromantic heap of tangled limbs on the ground. After that, every time I would attempt to re-start our two-person soul train of love, he’d just push me out of the way and skate around me. And I was really coming up with some fantastic moves, too.
Throughout the night, spontaneous parades-on-wheels would develop; they cruised against the outer rim of the rink with high acceleration, literally hooting anytime some asshole skater got in their way (NEVER ME). I kept striving to be the caboose to their roller gang-train. I was able to catch up with them several times, but then I could never mimic their leg motions. It’s really frustrating, not having rhythm. But at least I didn’t look like Henry out there, skating around with my hands stuffed in my pockets like motherfucking Opie visiting on the white bus from Mayberry.
Later, I was standing by the lockers talking to Henry and Kelly when an old man asked me if I had been there for the last adult skate. He explained to me that his group, the Pittsburgh Steel City Rollers, rent out the rink on the last Sunday of each month. “Basically, any one out there wearing black and gold is part of us. You’ll wanna especially watch that girl right there,” and he pointed at the woman in the red sweater. “She can SKATE.”
The sycophant in me rose up real quick-like and I found myself gushing to him about how badly I wanted to be like them. I brought up the fact that I can barely even skate backward anymore, because I’m so afraid of falling.
“Shoot, girl,” he said, slapping his hand at the air. “You can do it, you just gotta try.” I felt as though his pep talk infused me with a little funk and I shivered as some of the old school Yo Girl Erin surged up within me. (I didn’t actually shiver; I was fucking sweating up in that roller rink.) Golly, he’s right, I thought to myself, fists clenched with determination at my sides. I just gotta try!
I didn’t try. But I did make a mental note to go loot my mom’s house for my old Cross Colours shirts. I think that should be my first step, to dress the part. Then maybe the moves will come naturally.
While I didn’t try to skate backward, or do anything at all that deviated from my mission to skate as fast as possible without rocketing myself to Xanadu, I did partake in some Orange Crush, which seemed like a proper roller rink beverage.
Did I mention Napoleon Dynamite was there? He was, and he took a lot of the caucasian heat off me. His girl friend was some awkward Dorothy Hamill doppelganger.
The Drug Deal
As I skated one of my many breakneck revolutions around the rink, I couldn’t help but notice Kelly sitting on the bench, chatting it up with Red Sweater. I wondered what they could possibly be talking about, and decided it was obviously a drug deal. Then I couldn’t stop laughing at myself for being SO RACIST.
But later, when I asked Kelly for the 411, she said, “Oh, she was asking me why I wasn’t skating and I said my knee was hurting. So she gave me a pain killer.”
“YOU TOOK DRUGS OFF A STRANGER AT A ROLLER RINK?!” I couldn’t believe that my ignorant assumption was so spot-on.
Kelly’s daughter Ashley, who had met us there with her boyfriend Ryan, exclaimed, “What was it, like a Vicodin?!”
“It was just Ibuprofin you guys!” Kelly cried out, defensively. It’s been 4 days and she’s not out turning tricks for more pills, though. At least, not according to any of her Facebook status updates.
Daryll’s Down, Ya’ll!
Roller DJ had just finished shooting down my request for Bone Thugs n Harmony when it happened.
“HO! HO! HO!” someone bellowed from the opposite side of the rink. Kim and I and everyone else stopped in our tracks. My natural inclination was to either hit the floor and cover my head, tornado drill-style, or find where the line started to sit on Santa’s lap.
“DARYLL FELL!” the same man shouted. Wait – Daryll fell, or Daryll was felled? My mind always wants to go to the worst case scenario, and my heart rate was right there with it.
“DARYLL’S DOWN!” another person screamed.
“Goddammit, someone help Daryll!” (I know this is how he spells his name because I’m pretty sure I saw a YouTube video of him and he goes by Dangerous D Daryll.)
The music came to a screeching halt, replaced by nervous whispers, and on came the lights. Daryll, in his gold shirt and black do-rag, was half-supine on the rink with a crowd of Rollers surrounding him in an effort to help him up.
The culprit of Daryll’s dive was a small piece of plastic, which Red Sweater held in her hand as she skated off the rink. It appeared to have come off of someone’s skate, and Daryll, resting on a bench with an ice pack to his head at this point, looked like he was on a rampage.
“Everyone check your skates!” someone ordered, so we all did, but I had no idea what I was looking for. I had joined Henry and Chris, who were rubbing elbows with hopefully my soon-to-be mentor, the Lone Dancer.
“How do you skate with your skates untied?” Henry asked him, incredulous at the prospect.
Lone Dancer let out a slow, stoned laugh. “Oh, I don’t even notice,” he said. We hung out with him while Red Sweater skated around the perimeter of the rink with a wide broom, hopefully assuring that no one else would fall. (Some white broad fell earlier, but that was just because she sucks and is white.)
Later, Henry bragged that Lone Dancer told him that he and Chris are good. This made me literally bend over and get fucked by my own laughter. Practically had tears in my eyes at the idea of someone telling Henry and Chris that they’re good, let alone this made-up compliment originating from someone made of awesome like LONE DANCER.
“He probably meant you’re good because you were both able to snag amazing girlfriends,” I explained, causing Henry to make some disgusted noise before skating away from me.
More plastic was discovered on the rink, so we were all asked to stop skating and check our bearings once again.
“You’re good, girl,” a woman next to me on the bench said. “This ain’t coming from rentals.”
Someone else added, “I feel like this is coming from roller blades.” I know, lady. I taste the acrid flavor of disgust every time I say that word, too.
But then something clicked in my head and I slid over to Henry, trying not to arouse suspicion.
“What if it’s the roller blades you brought for Chris?” I hissed under my breath to Henry, who, for a split second, seemed to blanch.
“What? No. No, it’s not from those,” he said, but I noted there was a slight stammer.
Meanwhile, Kim had joined us and I filled her in on how I thought there was a chance Chris could be the culprit. I turned around and saw him sitting alone at the far end of the rink, just him and his pathetic roller blades, sitting on the bench, staring into space; I felt a pang of guilt when I thought about how Daryll was going to fuck up his world.
“Oh, I hope it is!” she exclaimed, and she laughed. Then I laughed too, and I couldn’t stop. (In fact, I’m still laughing now too, a real maniacal, devious brand of laughter which just caused my child to back slowly away from me. I apologized and said, “I just can’t stop laughing!” to which Chooch replied matter-of-factly, “I know. That’s because you’re a jackass.”)
Back at the rink, Henry was chiding, “It’s not funny!” We still decided to check Chris’s skates anyway, but they were intact.
“Oh my god, I can’t believe you guys were going to sell me out!” Chris said, making Kim and me laugh all over again.
Henry hates the snack room girl. She told me she likes my Mark Ryden pendant, so I like her just fine.
10PM was way too quick to approach, and Daryll never did get back on the rink. Goddammit. I admittedly was a little happy to tug those skates off my feet. Adult skate allows for much more skating to be had since the rink is only half as populated and pretty much everyone out there knows how to skate, and there’s none of those bullshit special skates being announced every fifteen minutes. “12 & under!” “No Girls!!” “Bieber Hair Cuts Only!” and don’t forget the biggest waste of time of them all – Limbo. But the downside to more rink time is that my feet were killing me. They hurt so bad that I had to wear flats to work the next day. In an effort to hopefully alleviate developing more open wounds, I’ve been browsing the Internet for a real pair of quads to buy. That’s how in it to win it I am. Fuck this skate rental bullshit. I’m looking for a nice pair with flames down the sides and flashing wheels. Then I’m going to shove the coffee table out of the way, turn on VH1 Soul and start practicing.
The best part? There were ZERO Katy Perry songs played that night. Jesus, the Steel City Rollers adult skate ruined me. I’ll never want to skate with regular people again! (And by “regular,” I of course mean “white.”)