Monday, December 04, 2006

A Return to Wheels

Welcome, welcome, to the next installment of "Tell Me Something I Don't Know."

My parents met in 1961, in a roller rink in San Diego. They were dance skaters. My Mother moved on skates like a swan, and my Dad, though a large man, was graceful on wheels also. There are tales of money being tight, and Dad hocking his skates several times after they married, the two of them walking back to the pawn shop to get them back when payday finally rolled around.

My sister and I were laced into skates practically upon learning to walk. My earliest memories of skating were at Elmwood roller rink, at Five Points in Urbana [yo, townies]. I remember clacking along on wooden wheels with both arms straight over my head, each hand wrapped around an index finger, one of my fathers, and one of a cousins. It was well before kindergarten.

In our teen years, we skated four nights a week. If my sister or I happened to have a date on any given Friday night, our curfew was still in tact. Our dates were NOT allowed to take us home to an empty house: they were to deliver us safely back to our the roller rink.

I must mention that my sister was also a phenomenal skater, much better than I ever was, or ever will be. She was fearless, and she and Dad would swirl and spin and two-step, in then-outdated, 60s style dancing that no one else could do.

As my parents met, I met my (first) husband at the roller rink. And my sister met her husband there also; they've been married 23 years.

Here's a snapshot of moi, taken more than 20 years ago. This, for you non-skaters, is called "Shoot the Duck." Last man standing wins a free soda. Check out my pom-poms. Heh heh.

I'm not sure how or why, but skating just sort of fell out of my life, with marriage, divorce, kid-raising, working...what have you.

Until yesterday. I roped all of my friends into accompanying me to the rink yesterday afternoon. (I was too afraid to try it alone.)

My feet are larger now than they were when I was 21; I didn't even try to dig out my old skates, but rented a pair of speed skates instead. The boot is lower and wheels wider, making for better control than a standard skate.

Fifteen years since I've had a rollerskate on and what was my first thought on these things? It was

"Holy shit, I can't believe I don't know how to skate anymore!"

I started out clacking and coasting, and merely leaning my way around the corners, wobbling and flailing my arms. I was a complete beginner! I had no idea it would be that bad!

On top of that, within 10 laps, it felt like the meat was being ripped right off of my shin-bones. I suck, I suck, I suck!

A mini break to stop the burning in my shins, another attempt, and soon enough, I had the crossover back down pat. It started to come back to me, and I was, for the most part, gliding around instead of skate-walking before too long. By the time our 2 hours was up, I even took a shot at backward-skating, and though it was shaky, I did it, I did it!

My friends did well too: Marcy, Mike, Melissa, and Mel's kids joined us. None of us fell down, and Mel and I even did the Hokey Pokey with her daughter and her friend. "Shakin' it all about" was a little precarious, but we managed to stay on our feet.

We all had a great time. I'm not sure about the rest of them, but I'm definitely going back, and even checking out the price of a pair of skates. The rink is a 3-minute drive from my house, it's good exercise, a bit of fun, and something to do on these cold winter nights.

Anyone want to join me?

Dare ya.


  1. seriously I love reading this entry! your parents, the skating rink, your family. so amazing -
    I love skating too - NEVER was I at a level like you and your family. I was lucky to not bust my butt! Cute post what beautiful happy memories :)


  2. I'm diggin my skates up this weekend:) And if by some miracle I could fly to the states in a mo..I'll certainly join in the fun. Cos this sure sounds like loads of fun.

  3. Sounds like fun! I used to *love* the skating rink....

  4. I had a LOT of fun! I alllllllmost fell on top of Melissa once but, other than that - no falling for me! Yay!! And Mike stayed up too! No broken butt bones!

    It was good, family fun!

    Love the stories about your family.

  5. Ah man that sounds like so muuuch fun..I suck at skating...Empress has tried miserably to teach me...and I just end up on my ass most of the time...

    Love the skates..!

  6. Court: Thanks; we sure had a lot of fun out there.

    Edina: Pictures please, and yes, join us, c'mon!

    Gamera: Anytime you want to give it another shot...I'll be there with the camera.

    Momo: Was it our first non-drinking outing ever?! We're jocks.

    MaryP: You have to lean forward,lean forward!!

  7. Hey baby! Rock on! I'm a bad ass skater. We go crazy when you come visit!

  8. What a great story! It brought back some fun memories for me as well.
    In your usual style, you never let a little fear stop you from doing anything.

  9. Anonymous1:48 PM

    Great Fun! And let it be known I was ready to throw myself on the floor to cushion Marcy's fall but as luck had it - no need. We did come to one conclusion: none of us can skate and talk at the same time (except Lori of course).

  10. skate on - don't think I will do that though.

  11. Hi G

    I remember clacking along on wooden wheels

    I remember those...I also remember have two wheels split in half on me in one night...

  12. I would go skating with you, if only I lived closer. I used to spend every weekend at the rink in Waldorf. I loved to skate.
    I like to ice skate too but my ankles don't.

  13. I went through a terrible breakup and a friend taught me how to skate but there was a catch. He got me totally smashed every time we went. I don't know if I can remember how to skate sober.

    I tried on a pair of my nephews in-line skates last summer and I didn't have any luck with staying vertical. Those things are completely different.

  14. what a wonder wonderul's like I could see most of it and it reminded me of my friends post on the same subject.

  15. I haven't been skating in years! I know it was fun.

  16. I love watching figure skating, all the triple twists, the graceful movements, was very hooked on to it during the winter olympics, but I myself have been to the rink just 2 or 3 times. For how beautiful it looks, its quite hard to master and perfect I guess.

  17. Me! Me! Pick me!!!!

    I, along with everyone else, do love this series.

  18. Andy: Give me time to get my chops back.

    Theresa: You have skating memories too, eh? Good times...

    Mel: Way to take one for the team!

    Barry: Party poooper.

    Dagoth: Oh, I forgot those wooden wheels would split and kill you! Memories..

    LastMLyn: I could only ice skate if I tightened the boots so much that I cut off my circulation.

    Awe: Drunk rollerskating: very impressive, you da man! I'll pass, I think. So...was it therapeutic, in the long run?

    Muffin: Thanks for sending me the link to another cool read!

    Stephen: Those skates are more slippery than you remembered...

    Shree: Welcome! No jumps and twists for me!

    pobble: I DO pick you! Let's go, c'mon!

  19. LOVE that photo! Wowie. I love to skate. Here, the kids skate on those no school days - the bball court turns into a roller rink. Way fun. Some skate with rollerblades, some traditional. My memories of skating are awesome - the lights, the songs, the boys. Wow. Thanks for the memories and glad you had so much fun.

    When I get out there, I'll definitely go skating with you!

  20. Anonymous11:40 AM

    i do! i do!

    *the* thing to do when i was in grade school was to go skating on friday nights. i was never fancy with it, just the normal skating around in the circle. ah, skateland. i had a bday party there once.

    i haven't been since. i've frequently entertained the idea if i thought anyone else would want to go.


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