I wasn’t looking for love at Soul Skate. It was hotter than Snookie’s kooka in that joint and really all I was focused on was not melting into a flesh-puddle while rollin’ to Justin Timberlake’s “Summer Love,” which I never realized just how truly anthemic that song really is until I had quads laced to my feet. (Also, Alicia Key’s “I’m Ready” made me almost consider giving Henry a sex-coupon, which never would have happened outside of a roller rink.)
And then I saw him: the rink lights bouncing off his smooth-shaven pate, the slick way he b-boy’ed around the rink with the best of the soul skaters, spinning tricks and commanding attention.
Holy shit, he was exactly my type! Which is: not Henry.
AND THEN HE DID A SPLIT, YOU GUYS.
To put it simply, motherfucker had it going on. (Does anyone still say that, other than En Vogue fans circa 1993?) I started imagining all the scenarios in which we paired up for couple’s skate, our roller passion so undeniably palpable that disco balls and T’Pau records birthed between us.
Of course, I told Henry immediately. I always alert him when there is someone within close proximity that I want to reverse-rape. He has the extreme misfortune of not only being my boyfriend, but also best friend, and sometimes those lines get a little more than blurred.
Since the rink was doubling as a sweat-tent, I had to take generous breaks to stand by the open side-door and wring out my tank top which was already the sheerest material I could morally get away with wearing in public, but skating around that rink on a ninety-degree day made me feel like I forgot to leave my burqa at home. I was sitting on the bench, across from the open door, tweeting faux love notes about this totally skilled skater when I looked up and saw him.
He was standing across from me by the door.
I smiled back.
He said something indecipherable, presumably about the heat, and I laughed and nodded, which is my go-to when I have no clue what’s going on. In my mind, I pretended he was wondering out loud why a hottie like me was ringless. And in my mind, I was saying back, “You think you’re sweaty now, baby?” The next thing I knew, Henry was sidling up next to me and my prey skated away.
“DID YOU SEE HIM TALKING TO ME?” I squealed.
Henry rolled his eyes.
“If he asks me to skate with him, will you let me?” I pleaded, adopting my best whiny-daughter tone.
Henry’s reaction is as follows:
“You know he’s been going out of his way to skate near you,” Henry mumbled. NO, I DID NOT KNOW THAT! God, Henry is a good wing-man.
So that was fun for awhile, making eye contact and then looking away bashfully, like suddenly I was in 3rd grade again with my big blond ponytail, flirting with boys from other schools at skating parties. (I was decidedly not cute at all anymore after third grade, so good thing I got in all that pre-teen flirting while boys could still look at me without vomiting.)
But about 45-minutes later, Henry and I were taking another break when Roller Lover came over, stood right beneath the pulsating speaker, and started talking to me as though Henry was completely invisible. (Which is completely acceptable, actually.) Again, I could barely hear what he was saying, but I heard enough to make me want to punch all those lustful feelings right back up into my ‘gina. He opened his mouth and braggadocio projectiled out on waves of squirrel-voiced bullshit. Through snaggled teeth, he told me about how he can “skate with the best of them” and how he and his ex-girlfriend were basically the King and Queen of shadow-skating. (Minus-87,000 points for bringing up an ex-girlfriend in the first sentence. Christ, that was annoying, a total turn-off.)
(Oh, look at me, acting like my boyfriend of 10 years wasn’t sitting right next to me.)
He said he goes to all of the Rollers’ parties, but this was the first time I have ever seen him.
And then he splashed sweat on me.
Henry at this point had completely checked-out of the conversation and was staring wistfully over my shoulder. I kept trying to make eye contact with him so he could bail me out, but I have a feeling he was purposely ignoring me. He does that sometimes, like all the time.
“You know what song I love to skate to? Return of the Mack,” Roller Disappointment said, almost smugly, like he was hoping to stump me.
“Um, yeah, that’s only like the best song ever to skate to,” I returned in my own smug tone.
“I’m going to see if the DJ will play it for us,” he said excitedly, and skated off. I was going to mention that Roller DJ ALWAYS plays that song and shouldn’t he know that since he comes to all of the soul skates, but I let him go because that was my way out. I slipped back onto the rink so fast, I almost fell backward. I glanced over my shoulder and saw that Roller Braggart was now sitting down by the rest rooms, changing t-shirts. I imagine his other one had to be half-dry by then, since he wrung most of it out on me while we were talking. A drop of his sweat even got near my lip and just typing that out made me dry-heave all over again.
Now that my skating goggles had been forcefully adjusted, I began to see that he actually had no rhythm at all. Sure, he could stunt better than most of the guys on the rink that night, but he had no flow whatsoever. Total skate-jam foul. (Look at me, like I’m some fucking Beyonce-replica on quads.)
Roller Doof sniffed me out later when I was standing by the door, letting the breeze blow under my shirt. During this painful conversation, I learned that he’s from Wheeling, which is apropos because it’s “WHEELing, GET IT? ROLLER SKATES HAVE WHEELS?” he shouted at my face. Yeah, I got it, Roller Perspiration, now back up off me.
Henry was clear on the other side of the rink, looking at the skate display that hasn’t changed since we started going there in January.
“Return of the Mack” came on just then.
“There’s our song!” he yelled, smiling all goofily. And that is how I ended up skating with a man who was not Henry. I can’t not skate to “Return of the Mack!” That’s the epitome of roller skate theme songs. So if it just so happens that some crazed man is skating alongside me, then so be it. I put myself in my Professional Skater zone and cruised along, muttering several “I bet!”s every now and then in reply to his tall tales. Then I noticed Henry back on the rink so I slowed my pace, and Roller Creeper kept going, not noticing my absence.
“What the fuck!” I yelled to Henry when he caught up with me. It was like he just came back from an “I Told You So” facial. Every last inch of his visage was silently admonishing me. Finally he said, “You asked for it.”
The rest of the night turned into a cat and mouse chase. Roller Stalker would literally cut across the rink just so he could skate beside me, causing me to panic and increase my pace, wedging a wall of soul skaters between us. I’m totally going to just stick with the black people from now on.
We could have taken the night, been a tour du force under the rainbow track lights, and then rode home together on the back of a Ke$ha-sponsored unicorn. If only he hadn’t opened his mouth.
And now I leave you with Mark Morris’s seminal hit “Return of the Mack.”