This past weekend, I spent my Friday night taking what I would call a skate down memory lane. Though I know I have been to this place before (or so my mother says), I do not have any recollection of it.
Skateland. Oh, what a place! As soon as I walked through the front doors I was whisked away to simpler times by the atmosphere of decades past. The lobby smelled like smelly feet and mildew unsuccessfully masked by the aroma of Applejack potpourri spray. The carpet had a regurgitation of geometric shapes reminiscent of bygone days. A few of the ceiling tiles had water damage which seemed like age spots on a once youthful face. To top it off, they still accept checks but not debit or credit cards.
Accompanied by Angie, one of my sweetest and most enjoyable friends, we opened the large red doors after paying by check and entered a portal to the past. It was like I was four again or an adult version of myself in an earlier generation. I felt like I could have been on an episode of “Saved by the Bell.” The only thing missing was a human look-a-like of a Ken doll and Screech.
We grabbed our skates and headed toward a bench to tie up the laces of our beige roller skates with pride. I originally had more confidence in my skating skills since I know how to shave the ice with hockey skates, but reality hit me as soon as I tried walking towards the roller rink. I felt like a toddler on wheels, a dangerous combination.
While surveying the area after I was somewhat stable on my skates, I noticed the rink had a large population of little boys and girls supervised by their loving parents and two roller refs. There was also a surprising array of high school boys passing us on their roller blades. However, our main concern dealt with the lonely men of the FM area who have nothing to do on Friday nights but to roller skate by themselves with the hope of impressing fast (on roller skates, that is) women.
One man in particular was obviously a regular. His ponytail, which exceeded my own by a foot, was tied back like any responsible sportsman to ensure visibility on the fast track. He towered over us as he asked me whether or not I was going to join the limbo contest, which I would have if wheels weren’t involved and if the competition would have been taller than four feet. After trying to strike up a few more conversations with us, he whizzed by backwards as he gave me helpful tidbits of advice that I never followed. He displayed his skating skills like it was a male mating call. This forced us to put our ignoring abilities on high.
After 45 more minutes of Angie and me trying to zone him out while we became accustomed to roller skating and avoiding the collapsing kids surrounding our every move, we noticed a little drama on the opposite side. Our skating stalker was keeled over and a large mass of nine-year-old girls and two adults were trying to aid him in his time of need. The word on the rink was that he had to jump over a fallen child which forced him to land in a painful and precarious manner. He had to sit on the sidelines after that scrape. That daring deed escalated his coolometer to hero level in the eyes of all Skateland kiddies. “To skate and protect” is surely a motto to stand by.
Though I do not wish sprained ankles (or whatever happened to him) upon anyone, it was especially enjoyable being there after that occurrence without the obtrusive advice from that pony-tailed predator.
Published April 14, 2011 in MSUM’s campus newspaper, The Advocate.