I may have mentioned I started walking to work this spring…
Ok…so I’m kinda obsessed, and ya’ll get to share.
This morning, I was passed by a commuter on roller skates. She was a middle-aged lady, wore a fairly standard backpack, and sported a bright pink helmet with matching knee and elbow pads. The wheels on her skates may have matched the bright pink of the rest of her ensemble, but had been darkened slightly from use.
She was also on the street – which is a hell of a lot smoother than the sidewalk I was currently pounding.
I had to giggle just a bit – but not loud enough to put her off her stride. I’d hate to cause an accident with my rather hard-to-explain mirth.
See – I did the roller skate thing a long time ago.
I officially became a teenager in the tender year of 1980.
but I’m still 29 thanks to ‘female’ maths
In this year of big, permed hair, screen-printed satin jackets, and eye-blistering neon-colors – one of the biggest social gathering places for those newly minted teens was the skating rink. There, you could blithely roll your heart out on a stretch of perfectly level, perfectly straight, and perfectly clean poured concrete, while the punk music blasted out of the speakers and stage lights flared, spun and flickered across the painted expanse.
All your classmates were there, too…doing what teens do worst – attempting to flirt with the opposite sex.
Well, except for me. I was more interested in actually skating.
At this age, I didn’t yet understand the biological Human directive to form pair bonds…
I had a pair of rink skates. Not the little metal numbers you had to screw onto your shoes (although I owned a pair or two of those, too…) – but a real pair of above-the-ankle leather boots with the wheel assembly permanently bolted onto the hard sole. I dressed ’em up with hot pink wheels, neon-purple, sparkly laces, and pink/purple puffballs strapped to the toes. I even had a bright blue satin jacket with the rink’s name screen-printed across the back.
The rink was within walking distance of home, and I went there every chance I could. Not that there were a lot of chances in 1980. The parent’s divorce was final, and Mom had moved back to the ‘ancestral’ part of Wisconsin with my and my little brother in tow to work a 2nd shift job in a nursing home. Guess who got the responsibility of making sure I and my little 10 year old brother had food at night?
I can still wield a can opener with the best Olympiads!
So 1980 was memorable, if only for the year I got my first ‘real’ skates, learned how to heat up cans of food, and realized I had little awareness of or interest in the whole boy/girl attraction thing.
I loved my skates though…they represented freedom & frivolity!
Now…I’m just gonna fast-forward through the remains of the 80’s. The fashion trends are starting to make a comeback, anyway, so why remember when I can just look out a window and see the same stuff on the street?
Yea!!! I’m 20. Out on my own for the first time eveah! Just me and my wits against the rest of society!
A broken-down car, some mother-fu*k3#! stealing my bicycle, less than $50 in the bank, a tiny efficiency apartment with a lecherous landlord, a job waiting tables in an extremely depressed segment of the US…
Yea…I had to walk to work. But, unlike now…back then I resented having to do it. I’d rather have had wheels.
Can you see where I’m going with this? I HAD wheels – my old trusty freedom-loving skates. And, unlike the bicycle that went off on its own, the skates I could bring inside the restaurant for protection against the tender mercies of the more ‘unsavory’ elements in town.
So I skated to work once…
It didn’t go so well. First…I was out of practice. Second, the sidewalks had cracks and pits and ankle-breaking perils (sticks, small stones, various debris) randomly scattered about. Third – curbs. Do you know how difficult it is to step off a curb with wheels strapped to your feet???
Lastly – there was traffic. Both other pedestrians and actual cars.
There were no cars in the Skate-Rink…and everyone rolled the same direction.
Welcome to real life!
I did survive that trip in to work…sweaty and shaking but intact and unbroken. At the end of that shift serving grouchy people burgers & fries…mopping up various spills and cleaning tables that the public left incredibly messy – I didn’t even bother lacing the skates back on. I just looped ’em over my shoulders and walked back to my little shelter.
I don’t think I ever wore my skates again.