Inspiration doesn’t come easy these days. I try to find it by volunteering or helping those less fortunate but even then it’s a fleeting moment of “meh”. I’ve been sucked into corporate America and closing on a house, so soon I will be assimilated into the masses who go to Home Depot on Saturdays and become an active member of a home owners association. While it is necessary to leap forward as an adult, I still do require a bit of inspiration that reminds me of simpler times. And that happened a few weeks ago when I took some kids roller skating.
Let’s be clear, I don’t skate. Charlie don’t surf, Billy don’t skate. I will, however, watch those who do and that’s mainly hoping for wipeouts or older male teens who have roller skate dance-offs. I like to laugh at misfortune. But after an hour or so the hilarity diminishes and I am forced to complain that the music stinks or the fact sweaty kids are gross. My volunteering for the local rotary chapter always turns out to be more painful than I anticipate.
I don’t know how roller skating was decided as the activity I was chaperoning but I will say, stepping into a roller rink building is like stepping back to 1987. This carpet agrees. There is not much that can change besides the music and if the main activity is roller skating in circles and a few limbo games, you gotta stick to what works. Even the arcade barely changed, I assume. There is no way a place would buy half of these “push the quarters off the ledge” machines.
I think what really hits the nostalgia bone is the fact nearly 90% of all the elementary and middle school birthday parties I was invited to was hosted at Sparkles Roller Rink. And I hated every single one of them. The reason being is I can’t skate. To this day I have the worst balance and if there are wheels under my feet, my face is on the floor. What made it even worse was being forced to wear the damn skates because everyone else would know I suck. By putting them on I could at least hang on to something and avoid the constant torment of adults questioning what wrong with me like “aren’t you having fun?” or “are you feeling okay?”. If there is anything worse than your peers making fun of you it’s the parents of the birthday kid asking if you wanted special treatment. I always opted for catastrophic falls and holding on for dear life to an awful video game no one wanted to play and without of quarters.
Lost in my own thoughts when I should have been watching the kids we brought, I spotted something that I had not seen in years. It was a roller skating wall-walker. And what really blew my mind was the fact he had to be at least 60!
This is not the greatest picture but in a room full of strange kids, I had to take my pictures quickly and discreetly.
As you can see he is walking that wall. It’s clear that if this wasn’t his first time on skates it had to have been at least 40 years since he has graced the rink. It was both inspiring and a little nerve-racking. This dude’s hips were in definite danger especially when negotiating the breaks in walls that were for access to the rink. There were a few “whoa” moments and even a spill or two.
Every time he completed a lap (which took 20 minutes) I was certain he would just return to a bench and join the other adults who, by the way, had their feet firmly planted to the ground. But no, he just started a new lap. It was like watching a goose trying to cross a highway. He didn’t give a shit.
Around the fourth lap or so, I had to give this guy some encouragement. So I waited until he crawled his way past my side of the rink and I said “way to go, man!”. He shot me a look like I just told his daughter to wear shorter dresses. I was a little taken aback because I had been so impressed with his resilience and stubbornness to master an activity designed for an 8 year old that I was certain he would give me a thumbs up. Nope, he was a bit of a dick.
Well, even though his attitude towards me was shitty, I am still inspired by his determination to both look foolish and not give up. I can’t imagine the amount of aspirin this dude had to take the next day. I saw him flail and flop on the ground no less than a dozen times. So, every time I am engaged in a long and arduous activity I will think of the 60 year old wall-walker and remember, don’t give up.
Okay, I just reread this post and I disagree with all of this. The guy never got better at skating but in fact much worse. He should have given up the second he started tap dancing backwards and making arm gestures like a mime pulling an imaginary rope. He lost 16,000 man points and I can’t imagine at 60 years old, someone would aspire to be a decent roller skater. There are so many other great activities that don’t require you to look like a cat with tape on its feet.
Sorry for all of this. Happy Thursday!