Jan 052010

One of my resolutions is to plan more shit that will get me out of the house.

I was thinking about when I last felt really content, like I wasn’t wasting time, and the first thing I thought of was the winter of 2005 when Henry, Janna and I used to go roller skating. (That sounds like we played derby or something hardcore, but the reality is that we only went about four times.) So I decided I don’t care if I have to rollerskate while strapped to a gurney, I’m doing it this weekend. Time to get back to my roots, yo.

To commemorate this greasy-wheeled occasion, I decided to dig out my old roller skating entries from 2005, because they make me happy. And my belly hurts because God forbid I tried to eat a substantial dinner, so I could use a little happy-happy.


January 2005

Lately, I’ve felt the need for speed. I lay awake in bed for countless hours, tossing and turning while remembering fun times had in the roller rinks of my youth and longing for that smooth surface to enrapture my wheels once more.

Luckily, my friend Google pointed out that there really is still a smattering of good old fashioned roller rinks in the area. I chose one that was an hour away because it was the only one that hosted an adult skate. After Henry sat me down and said, “You are aware that adult skate doesn’t mean there will be strippers, right?” and I nodded slowly in recognition, he promised that we could go. I had an entire week to wait out, though, and boy was it excruciating.

However, the wait gave me something that I hadn’t experienced since I was kid waiting for my sea monkeys to grow: Anticipation. For a week, I’d fling back the comforter of my bed each morning, declaring the number of days left before I was free to skate. I found myself absent-mindedly sketching skates during class. I was comparing everything to skating:

“You know what’s just like paying the electric bill before they shut us off? Roller skating.”
“Oh, you know what would be really good with this sandwich? Roller skating.”
“You know what’s just like that war in Iraq? Roller skating.”

I wasn’t annoying to be around at all. At all.

And finally, yesterday was the day. Janna decided to join us, and every few minutes, I excitedly inquired about their degree of excitement. My inquisitions were met with despondent mumbles of, “Sure” and “I guess.” I began to question myself why I keep such lackluster company.

No matter, because I had enough exuberance to pass around. I shook in my seat the entire length of the trip, getting myself so riled up that I had to pee. Then I would bellow animalistic, guttural battle cries through clenched teeth while pumping my fist in the air.

I was really excited.

Once we eventually arrived at the Valarena Roller Rink, my hands were clammy and it felt like someone was fisting my heart. While I took deep and calming breaths to keep from choking on squeals, Henry decided to forgo his blades and rented an old school pair of quads. As did Janna, who would prove to be our own little Goldilocks as she exchanged her rentals three times before settling on a pair of inlines.

Since I am a very responsible and capable person (I’m excellent to travel with, never mind the time I left half of my wardrobe in a hotel closet in Australia), I spent the day making sure I had everything required for my skating bonanza. I came prepared with new hot pink laces, an appetite for that delicious snack bar pizza that I kept going back to ogle on their website, moxie and what little stamina I could muster from my out of shape self.

What I hadn’t prepared for, however, was Henry morphing into Disco Delight as his wheels hit the creamy surface of the rink. He was showcasing flamboyant little twirls and twists with his hands clasped behind his back; his long brown curls billowed behind him in the wake of his self-made wind. And then there was the surreal arm choreography: he’d stretch his arms out in front of his body, spread his fingers and violently shake his hands like he was skating to ragtime. I’m hoping I don’t need shock therapy to erase those images from my mind.

Every so often, I’d catch him running his hands up and down his body and plucking his imaginary rainbow suspenders. I like to believe that in his tiny delusional mind, he envisioned that he was wearing his best polyester play suit and holding not my hand, but Kristy McNichol’s. It was like he had skated right out of an episode of After School Special, circa 1977.

I was really beginning to get pissed because he was showing me up. This doesn’t sit lightly with someone of my egocentric caliber. I finally lost my temper and shoved him, and he immediately pointed out the numerous signs and placards warning that horseplay is cause for removal and banishment.

So once the rink started bumpin’ to my Def Leppard jam, I had no choice but to bench him. We exchanged words as he implored me to reconsider, stating, “But I can’t help that I’m better than you. I’ve been skating since before you were born! Well, I have!” Oh, the pleasure that coursed through my veins each time I’d skate past him; the puppy dog eyes pleading to be allowed back on the rink. My body, even while suffering from extreme fatigue as this was probably my fifth trip around, managed to shake riotously with greedy laughter.

And then our pizza was pulled from the oven. I took a long enough break to savagely gnash my teeth into my share before barreling back onto the rink in time for S Club 7. The videos for some of the songs were projected onto the back wall. Let me tell you, nothing is more liberating than skating through flashing disco lights worthy of giving any good epileptic nightmarish seizures while Marilyn Manson’s face is slathered across the wall, rockin’ the rink with his rendition of “Tainted Love.” It truly was adult night.

Where was Janna throughout the evening of wheeled debauchery? When she wasn’t hugging the wall, her ass was glued to her post in the game room as she guarded our beverage. She seemed ok with that, and our drinks made it through the evening unmaimed.

Sadly but inevitably, 9:30 rolled around and it was time to leave our new haven. I felt an unbreakable bond with the eight other skaters, like I should have stood in front of them while beating my breast bone.

I discovered as I was replacing my skates with societally regulated non-wheeled shoes, that I had broken one of my Goodwill relics. But this is good news because now Henry gets to buy me a brand new pair with blinking wheels.

Oh, and that pizza? It was delicious, as I knew it would be.

Henry, emulating Brian Boitano’s victory lap around the rink,
while cradling an armful of make believe flowers.

  5 Responses to “Rollerskating Week, Honestly: as declared by me”

  1. I have such fond memories of the Vallerena!!!

  2. wow.Sounds like a lotta fun.

  3. oh dear god…roller skating…almost every birthday party I had/attended as a child was at Star Skate. Yes it was disco and space-y in there. I remember them playing “Brickhouse” for my sister on her 18th birthday. In my mind that will always be the ultimate skating song .Some of my older siblings were skate guards and my one brother even was one of those “professional” skaters with a partner and everything. My mom had their skating prom type photos on top of the tv and I would laugh and laugh at my brother in his spandex unitard. Good times.
    It closed down when I was a teenager. I can only imagine how great it would have been to get drunk and throw up in the parking lot there.
    No more rinks around here anymore. I’m so old though, I might break a hip.

    • I miss skating nights! Did you guys have that in school? It was like the equivalent of a dance, but for elementary school kids, and it was always a big deal. I remember trying to impress all of my crushes constantly. God I miss those days!!

      My ultimate skating song was “Heart n Soul” by T’Pau. Shut up!

      Most of the rinks we had around here are closed, but there are still a few. Come to Pittsburgh!!

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