Henry and I went to the Adult Skate two weeks ago alone, kind of like a real life date, I guess. He didn’t even seem to mind when I blasted Dance Gavin Dance on the ride there while pantomiming in his face. (That’s his favorite part anyway, who’s he trying to kid.)
This particular adult skate was way less soul, more cracker because it wasn’t hosted by the Steel City Rollers. They did play my Return of the Mack song, though, which I’ve decided is my all-time favorite skating jam. But still — way too many whites. It was almost embarrassing. And maybe if I didn’t already have knowledge of the Steel City Rollers, I’d have been impressed by some of these Opies, but they just looked farcical out there. Especially the one older man who was fist-pumping aggressively to Queen.
I was definitely the best white-girl skater there that night though, so I took satisfaction in that. And Henry even skated with me a lot, even to the tail end of “Rush, Rush,” and even after I admitted that I was pretending he was Jonny Craig. Henry is willing to role-play to keep me.
It became suddenly very apparent during this Adult Skate why Neville Roller Drome isn’t open all year. It was unseasonably warm that Sunday in April, and even at night the rink was trying to smoke us alive. The windows were open, and the exit door at the far end of the rink was propped open (which lured neighborhood children over to watch the grown-ups acting like teens on the rink; I raised the roof to them every time I skated past) but even then my whole body was moist with skate-sweat and I was starting to get scared of passing out. For the first time ever, Henry and I spent more time sitting off-rink and downing fluids in the snack room than actually skating. That’s when it became apparent that we needed to find a new rink. (Though we’ll still be going to this one just for the adult skates until the season ends.)
And that was the catalyst that led us about 40 minutes out of the city to Donora last Saturday. We let Janna come with us, even though she is A ROLLER BLADER.
Immediately upon entering the building, my tongue was slathered with a horrible taste as a Valley Skate-shirted woman darted around a corner and, in a very condescending tone (don’t listen to Henry’s version of this) asked, “Can I help you?” Her bug-eyes were sizing us up, realizing we were city folk, probably wondering what our motives were, like, why weren’t we at a martini bar?
I continued to stare back at her, making my eyes into slits of intimidating fuck-you-uppery, while Henry calmly told her we were there to skate.
I mean, I understand some people go to rinks to sell drugs to minors and have sex behind the skate rental counter, but bitch please. I have all the intensity of a professional roller dancer, but just to be clear: I AM HERE TO SHOW YOU WHAT A DREAM ON WHEELS LOOKS LIKE.
“Oh. Well it doesn’t start til 2.” And with that, we were made to go back out to the stench-laden vestibule, which was muggy as Hell thanks to the rainstorm performing directly outside the doors, where we had to stand with another family for an entire 10 minutes. (This will now be known as The First Thing That Pissed Me Off.)
And you know I was motherfucking that broad up and down, which prompted Henry to release his years-perfected elbow-clench (which, by the way, hurts but never makes me shut up). “She’s right on the other side of that window!” Henry hissed, pointing to the open plexi-glass of the ticket booth. “She can hear you!”
“OH I HOPE SHE CAN! THE DUMB WHORE BITCH!” I replied with my outdoor voice. (Which doubles as my Church Voice.) “LET’S JUST LEAVE! I DON’T WANT TO SKATE HERE ANYWAY, IT’S A DUMP.” (It was not actually a dump.)
“Don’t start,” Henry seethed. And then he tried to block me from taking her picture. NICE TRY, ASSHOLE.
Turns out (or, if this were Henry talking, “Come to find out”) she’s the daughter of the owner and also the go-to girl for purchasing skates, which is what I want to do, but now I’m not sure if it requires talking to her without the aid of a translator. Or a paper bag over my face.
They got the Ode to a 1987’s Trapper Keeper carpet pattern down to a T. I completely approved, even though I tried to act disgusted by it at first when I was still hating the place.
The Second Thing That Pissed Me Off: The kid working the skate rental counter did not put enough attention into assuring that the skates he plucked from the wall were in my best interest. As soon as he handed them to me, I said (apparently to no one, since neither he nor Henry appeared to notice my presence), “I can already tell these are too big.”
And they were too big. So I threw a small fit, which Henry took as his cue to go get me a smaller size. Meanwhile, I decided to utilize the facilities before skating-up.
The bathroom was clean enough, but it was concerning how low the stall doors were. Any adult could have stood on the other side and watched from above as I proudly peed currents of rainbows and the blood of Christ, which is also rainbow-colored and serves as an astringent for anytime a Katy Perry fan might lay a hand on you.
Which leads me to The Third Thing That Pissed Me Off: getting bested by a motherfucking sink.
A SINK, I SAID.
After lathering my hands up real good (I’m not even so much of a germ freak), I held them beneath what I could only assume was a faucet and hopefully not the piece of farm equipment it actually looked like, and nothing happened. I fiddled around with the invisible knobs on top, banged around a bit with the heel of my hand and felt my face heat up as panic crept in.
I considered walking away, but I had this thick sheath of pink antibacterial soap on both hands and of course there was only a hand dryer at my disposal, nary a paper towel dispenser.
Suddenly, it was 2005 and I was in the lounge of a funeral home, waiting to be interviewed for a job. “Have some coffee while you wait!” I was told. But I couldn’t figure out how the coffee maker worked, which made me light-headed with anxiety. I didn’t really want coffee, but I was told to HAVE SOME COFFEE so I felt that I should do just that. I spent the whole time (at least a half hour, because the interviewer double-booked himself), slamming the carafe against the counter, sweating through my blouse, crying. Oh, I cried. And when I finally figured out its twisted puzzle, I was called back for the interview.
This sink was the new funeral home coffee maker, and I found my eyes were welling up much in the same manner. WHAT COULD I DO?! To my right, I noticed a water fountain. I tried to covertly assess how many people were nearby, and which of them appeared to be noticing this grown woman completely spazzing out in front of a sink (did I mention this sink was located OUTSIDE of the restrooms?)
I could rinse my hands in the water fountain, I thought, momentarily awash with hope. Just as I started casually walking over the fountain (to be clear, the Erin Version of “casually” is suspiciously clod-hopping with unbent knees while furtively glancing over my shoulders and drawing every last bit of attention to my person as single-handedly possible), a young girl skated over and took a hearty gulp from it.
I froze, like a priest caught with my hand up an altar robe, and she and I locked eyes for what seemed like an entire episode of that shitty television program where F-List “stars” pretend to dance. Then I decided to do that thing that people are always telling me about, where one human asks another human for help. So that is what I did.
“Oh! Here I’ll show you,” she said cheerfully, skating over to the trough. “You just step down on this,” and as she did so, glorious streams of water poured forth like a waterfall of promise. “And it’ll turn off on its own.”
I thanked her with way more enthusiasm than necessary, and she was like, “Um, OK,” then left me alone to have what I can only explain as my Virginal Hand-Washing Experience.
Meanwhile, I had been gone so long, Henry probably thought I was giving birth to my Internet Boyfriend’s lovechild in one of the stalls.
“You’ll never believe what happened to me over there,” I wheezed, out of breath from running the length of the building with jazz hands. I explained the situation and Henry, with a bemused smirk, said, “Let me guess—-did you have to step on something?”
“Fuck you,” I sighed in defeat, sitting down to put on my skates. Of course Henry would know! He’s so fucking old, ain’t no sink he hasn’t encountered.
Once Henry scraped the gum off my wheel, I was set free and it only took me .0002 seconds to understand just how perfect the rink was. It was smooth as silk, twice the size of Neville Roller Drome, and even had a small children’s rink off to the side, so the idiots could stay over there and learn how to act like proper human beings.
The Fourth Thing That Pissed Me Off: Really awful music. In a three-song span, I was ear-assaulted with Miley Cyrus, Who Let the Dogs Out and Smashmouth. SMASHMOUTH, REALLY? I almost had an angry-cry session right there on the rink.
“It’s probably just because the session hasn’t officially started yet,” Henry reasoned, like he always does because he’s a professional father. Eventually, the lights went out and the colored track lights came on, at which point the rink was soundtracked by a mix of somewhat appropriate pop (there was only one Katy Perry song, I couldn’t be too hateful), 80s rock classics and a little bit of 70s soul for a little flavor.
An hour into the session, I noticed that there were still really only about 20 or so people on the rink, and most of those were children who actually knew how to skate well. There was only one incident where a boy younger than Chooch decided to change directions and came careening into me. We completely crashed into each other because I have little to no reactionary instinct, though I managed to stay on my feet while he rolled a good five times before coming to a stop.
My heart was racing.
“I COULD HAVE KILLED HIM! WHERE THE FUCK ARE THE RINK REFS?!” I screamed at Henry, because he was obviously responsible for the near-carnage. There are two rink refs at this joint, the one with bleached blond hair was nowhere to be found, and the other (the asshole who gave me my skates) was sitting in the corner of the rink with some kid, yukking it up.
“I’m saying something to that lazy asshole!” I yelled with determination, because it makes me mad when patrons do not abide by the rules of the roller rink. YOU DO NO SWITCH DIRECTION MID-STRIDE. There were literally no more than 15 people on the rink together at any given time, so collisions should not have been a worry.
“Please don’t,” Henry said quietly. So I didn’t, because we were newbies after all, and I guess I didn’t want to get black-listed right after we finally found The Perfect Rink. (It’s where I’m having my birthday party this summer, probably. It will be at the end of July so if you want to come, just tell me. I need all the people I can possibly get to pose as friends.)
After a minute or so, Henry added, “You should just be a rink guard.” (He refuses to call them rink refs like I do.)
“I KNOW RIGHT!” I yelled, even though he clearly didn’t READ MY BLOG a few weeks ago when I wrote about just that.
“No one would come on the rink.”
That’s actually a pretty good possibility.
From some undisclosed location, the voice of Whore Bitch filled the rink and announced that it was Game Time. All fifteen of us gathered in the center of the rink for the Hokey Pokey, at which point we were all instructed by Whore Bitch to sit down for Spin the Pin. “The adults can remain standing,” Whore Bitch went on to say. “I know it can be kind of hard to get back up!” And she laughed, along with Henry who knows all about being old and unable to stand from a seated position. I sat with the kids because I’m not old. Janna and Henry stood like old people.
Spin the Pin was a crock of shit. The bowling pin was clearly about to stop while pointing at Chooch and me, but the tow-headed rink ref did something to make it keep spinning, I fucking swear to god, because he probably wanted a townie to win. So some other asshole got to win a free pass to come back, while Chooch and I sat there with our mouths twisted in the shape of WTF.
It was Katie’s birthday! I don’t know who she is, but she couldn’t skate for shit. She got a fucking purple balloon and I kept cheering and wishing her a Happy Birthday in a very exaggerated fashion, which was really pissing off Chooch because I think he thought I cared more about her birthday than his, which hasn’t even happened yet.
Then we played a game called Corners! How exciting! Along the rink, there were six numbers painted on the walls. Everyone had to split up and stand under a number. I went for 6, which was located above the DJ Booth. Whore Bitch was explaining where all the numbers were located and when she said, “And then number 6 is right above me!” I turned around just in time to make eye contact with her on the other side of the DJ booth glass. I don’t know why, but it hadn’t occurred to me this whole time that she was the DJ. Janna, Henry and Chooch were across the rink, standing under the number 1. Janna laughed when she saw my expression of extreme disdain.
One of the Rink Refs came out with a large felt die and had some asshole toss it. I’m chanting “666!” over and over, like some sugar-fed Satanist, and the die landed on 6! I was like, “HELL YES BITCHES! WOO!” but then Whore Bitch was all, “Oh, sad. Everyone under the number 6 is out! You must now leave the rink! Go stand somewhere over there.”
LONGEST SKATE OF MY LIFE. I had my head hung low, especially when I inevitably had to pass Henry and Janna, who were belly-laughing at my loss.
“I thought I was supposed to root FOR my number,” I hissed at them, before sitting sadly and alone on a blue carpeted bench.
Stupidest fucking game ever.
Chooch got to roll the die and rolled Janna, Henry and himself right the fuck out so I made sure to jeer and heckle them loudly from my spot in exile. Assholes.
AT least they didn’t piss around with Limbo. I hate Limbo.
The rest of the time was All Skate, with an occasional Couples Skate thrown in (I tried to get Henry to twirl me but he was too embarrassed to have to publicly place his hands on me).
By the end of the session, I was a hot mess of frizzy hair and brow-sweat, which is how I look at Warped Tour. That’s how I know it was the best day ever. And I didn’t even find a single skater I wanted to hate! Except for Janna. Obviously.
Henry and I get along best at the roller rink, it’s become quite clear to me. I’m thinking—we have hardwood floors, so maybe if we just go about our homelife while wearing skates, we might actually be able to achieve full-scale Love.