By the way everybody, today is K’s birthday. 7/14/11 K was born by emergency c-section (God DAMN those emergency sections.) at 2:35 in the afternoon. She is now 3. Officially. Love you K.
J was invited to a roller skating birthday party.
I was particularly excited, because when I was young, skating parties were all the rage. We used to go to a place called United Skates of America, and it was SO COOL.
I rocked the rink in my purple corduroy flares and barrettes with long ribbons laced through so that neon streamers flew gracefully with my hair as I skated.
I was fabulous.
My mullet* flashed in the disco lights like a mullet was ever an acceptable hairstyle. I showed everybody my best “Thriller” on wheels. I could jump, I could skate backwards, I was total eighties chic. I was gooooood.
When I was eight.
*MULLET DISCLAIMER*— my mother had my hair cut into a mullet. I claim no responsibility, and in fact, spent quite a long time wondering exactly why it was that the front of my hair would never grow out.
I was psyched to put on skates again… Maybe I would show them a little Thriller on wheels. Throw in a jump or two. I would, no doubt, be the envy of all the other parents, and win the admiration of my children and all their friends.
We get to the place, and it looks exactly like United Skates of America.
Had United Skates closed down in 1982 and not reopened until the very moment we walked through the door.
The dirt settled onto our bodies and into our lungs the minute we walked inside. It smelled nasty, like an old stinky running shoe and a can of twenty year old lysol mated, reproduced, and there were no natural predators to keep the population in check.
This place has whatever a roller rink gets when it doesn’t use a condom.
There were stains on the carpet best left unexplored. There were strobe lights in the rink, but only the blue and white ones worked, so it was pitch black, except for blue and white seizures occurring randomly about the corners. The husband scoffed when I said the building was a crack house on the off season.
Hey, you gotta pay the cookie bill somehow.
I looked to my right and saw “concessions”.
I caught sight of the “microwave” (circa 1972, and the size of a walk in freezer).
A roller rink employee came by and opened it up; I gagged involuntarily.
I’m immediately suspicious that the “pizza” came with the microwave.
I read recently over at Farmer Farthing that a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar taken before eating sketchy food will keep food poisoning away, and I wished fervently that I had thought to bring a few bottles along.
There were perforations in the pizza crust where it ought to be cut. Didn’t the pizza company have enough faith in the human race as to believe that the pizza slicers of the future would possess the fortitude to slice a pizza on their own? That kind of confidence is underwhelming.
The fountain drink dispenser was out of everything except Tab and New Coke.
There were several arguments between parents regarding the pizza cheese.
Is it cheese? Or cheeze? Or cheese food?
My vote is D: Might’ve been one of the above, at one point, a long, long time ago.
Unless they’re giving out Twinkies, he’s not eating anything here.
I ushered my children past the dusty candy to the skate rental desk. The girl at the counter who was touching my shoes had something phlegmy and communicable. It might have been the light, but I think she was green. I felt bad for her.
She probably caught it from the roller rink.
The skates were exactly like I remembered. In fact, I think they were the skates I remembered, but the years have done them no good. They were the same disgusting brown germ boots I wore as a child, but now with no brake… Just a sad little nub on the bottom front of the boot.
Instead, we will be relying on gravity and dusty carpet walls for brakes. It’s just a good thing I’m such a fantastic skater.
Funny thing about that.
It seems that after you pop out a couple of kids, gain a hundred pounds, and have no brakes on your roller skates, your center of gravity is no longer quite what it was pre-puberty. I was splayed out on my ass in seconds.
We’ve got a fat lady down.
Undeterred, I crawled to the edge of the rink and pulled myself up on a dusty carpet wall.
Getting to the center of the rink was like a vicious real life game of Frogger (Too new to be featured in the video arcade.). I stood with J, squinting at the rink. The only warning of oncoming skaters came with the flash of blue and white seizure lights coming from the corners of the rink. There were trucks and crocodiles everywhere, but I had no button for back or stop.
Beyond the seven million children with low centers of gravity (and zero situational awareness) doing 110mph around the rink, there were two skaters in particular that made for a deadly crossing.
One is the dude in his mid forties in a pink half shirt, spandex shorts and bandana (I’m pretty sure he was in “Menudo” at one time) who was quite obviously a regular. He flew past at amazing speeds for one with no brakes on his skates. He was not playing Frogger, he was playing Pole Position.
Secondly, there was the dad trying to teach his morbidly obese daughter how to skate. He held her under her arms, which was good, because she had absolutely no control of any body part below her neck.
All four limbs were flailing like she was falling horizontally from a tall building. The poor thing was begging to be let off the rink.
Just personally, I’d have preferred if her clothing selection had included pants, rather than a dress and… what was underneath… (not that you could see much… but when you did… it was a quarter second of a blue and white nightmare.) They were slow, but deadly. If you ran into one of those flying limbs, you might as well have been eaten by the crocodile or hit by the truck on your last life.
You had to give Dad credit, though, he was determined to teach that child how to skate. It wasn’t ever going to happen, but he was in it to win it.
J and I stood there forever, watching, waiting for our chance. Finally there was a five second pause and I grabbed J and shoved off the wall. I felt like we were in a scene out of “Gravity”.
We make it safely to the poles in the center of the rink, (the ones reserved for the kids who are just learning. Why do they put those at the center of the rink?) and J would no longer let me touch him. Probably a wise decision on his part.
I tried to relearn how to skate. I was doing pretty well, too…
Till I wasn’t.
I was standing up, trying to convince my son to hold my hand and skate with me. You know, show him the dirty, disgusting, germy, ropes. Really, I just wanted him to let go of the germy pole he had white knuckled in both hands, but in process, I lost my balance.
For a moment, I’m positive I looked like an olympic figure skater. My legs were kicking out like a rockette, my arms were spinning in wide circles,
I was moving in slow motion, and good thing I was- I had just long enough to decide how to handle my imminent fall.
My ass would be taking one for the team.
While all this was happening to my limbs, the angle of my body was slowly rotating clockwise. It was only a matter of time before gravity kicked in. There was so much dirt and filth on the floor that I hit the ground like a skier hits freshly felled snow.
I watched as the dust and grime flew up and then resettled around my body.
I lay where I fell and took inventory. Nothing broken, enough padding in the ass to absorb the majority of impact. Just as planned.
J stood and watched the whole thing. When the dust settled (not metaphorically) I looked up to catch a glimpse of his upside down face. He was wearing an expression that could mean only one thing:
“Right, Mom. My ass you can skate.”
The thought occurred to me to make a filth angel.
I lay on the grainy soiled ground, spread eagle and disgraced, for several moments before I made the decision. I got up, picked the gum out of my hair, and made to return my skates. I’m not proud, but first I had to get past eight thousand children, Menudo in his pink half shirt and McDonalds and her flailing limbs.
If I’d had a rope, I would’ve tied it to myself, so J could have pulled me back in the event of bludgeoning. As I had no rope, I just closed my eyes and went. I don’t know how many small children I took out on my way… I was like Godzilla crossing the NJ Turnpike at rush hour. I may have apologized at the three child pile up, but I don’t remember and I couldn’t stop.
As I got my shoes back from the girl with the greenish hue, the birthday boys name was called, and all his little friends were invited to come and have some pizza and birthday cake.
Luckily, J was stuck in the middle of the rink the while the majority of the pizza was given out. Between Menudo and McDonalds, I had a hard time getting him out— even in my sneakers. By the time we got back to concessions, there was only pepperoni pizza left (which he does not like) so I bribed him with double cake to eat the snacks I brought from home while we went to check out the arcade.
The arcade was located at the rear of the concessions area, and had some gnarly wicked games. They had Pong, pinball, and a couple of games whose object was to destroy the Soviet Union. They were all covered in dust. Ms. Pac Man had gone feral.
None of them had worked since the cold war anyhow.
The boy was disappointed, but after two pieces of cake, disappointment was replaced by a sweet sugar high, and back to the roller rink we went.
I managed to get him back to the center of the rink, and left him there. I had been exposed as a roller skating fraud, so I took to the bench until I could wash my children in the disgusting, repulsive and smelly restroom, slather them in hand sanitizer, and take them home for a bath.
My shame abates slowly as the days pass.
Perhaps some things are best left in the past.