Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Rinking 2: Electric Boogaloo

Rollin' - Limp Bizkit (mp3)
Magic (Archangel Knight's Inline Sk8 128 BPM Remix) - Olivia Newton-John (mp3)

Sunday after lunch, I took my two girls and a 9-year-old boy/friend of the family to the local rollerskating rink for an afternoon of hard knocks.

Most children of the '70s and '80s are likely to have etched-in-stone memories of rollerskating rinks. The birthday parties. The really cool and cute elementary school girls who could skate backwards. The supercool ones who could skate backwards AND shake their hips to the music. The games of Red Light Green Light. Reverse skates. The back corner on the side opposite the main entrance, where the 4-foot-high wall around the rink melded into the wall, where the really cool kids would sneak over and kiss or do other Truth Or Dare kinds of things that were the stuff of elementary school legend. And all the dance-friendly pop music you could ever stomach.

Close your eyes and think back to some of your memories of being in a rollerskating rink 20, 30, even 40 years ago.

Now open them inside Hamilton Place Skate World.

Holy shit!! Nothing's changed!!

Dear readers, I kid you not. Jim Croce DID manage to save time in a bottle, except the bottle is also called "skating rinks," and Jim Croce is strapped to his electric chair in hell having to listen to The Macarena and The Electric Slide over and over while people of varying ages roll and bob and stumble and fall on a flat surface while strobe lights waft over them. The entire cast from The Rocky Horror Picture Show sang "Time Warp" in my ears as I entered that rink for the first time.

To the best of my recollection, here are the only things that have changed since 1983:
  • No more 4-foot handrail around the rink. Now it's just a step;
  • You can rent in-line skates for twice the amount or stick with the tried-and-true 4-wheelers;
  • People of different racial make-up skate in the same place!

A few other random thoughts about my three-hour experience:

THE DIVA -- One 11-year-old girl was mind-bogglingly good. Although perhaps a teensy bit overweight, she was agile and technically impressive and was downright entertaining to watch as she circled the floor. Two other girls about her age were basically her rollerskating version of Crabbe and Goyle, following and mimicking her as best they could. More than Slytherins, they reminded me of a too-young version of Heathers. Except, like, down a couple of notches on the income level. I never want to take my girls to the rink frequently enough that they could join that group. Being Queen of the Roller Rink in 2010... might as well buy some poodle skirts and teach 'em to do the Hand Jive with Danny and Rizzo.

THE PERV -- Most of the parental (and grandparental) chaperones sat on the tables next to the snack bar, reading books. A few big-time dorks like myself were out there proving that shitty coordination does not discriminate on the basis of age. But one man in his 50s, who reminded me of Napoleon Dynomite's Uncle Rico, was, like, the Superman of Roller Skating. He wore a white button-down with jorts, and tube socks that stopped just below his calves. He had a 'stache and close-cropped salt-n-pepa hair with a dollop of hair gel. One would have to be an absolute nin-cow-poop to see this guy and not have some serious Chester the Molester bells ringing to 11 in your ears.

He stayed out on the floor almost the entire time we were there. And all the regular kids knew him. It was clear he had taught many of them how to skate, and I saw him giving 10-15 minute mini-lessons to two different kids while I was there, trying to show them how to skate backwards. (Hell, I almost asked for help.) He was like the Pied Skater of Hamilton or something.

Because I am a firm believer in the ideal that everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt*, I must acknowledge that maybe the guy wasn't so much a predator as a nice socially awkward dude who just looks exactly like a predator.

THE HITS -- Many moons ago, I wrote a post about my belief that the number of universally-known pop songs was diminishing over time as tastes branched out and radio died and MTV died. If you go to skating rinks once every week or so, you will probably stay up-to-date on all the best Chris Brown and Taylor Swift songs. You probably won't suffer to the degree of most people. Those regular kids -- the followers of the Pied Skater -- knew every song, every word, every bit. But their knowledge is due to something totally Old School, which is to say going to a friggin' roller rink.

Anyway, point is, I think we're going again in three weeks. Should be groovy.


troutking said...

Very entertaining post. I always hated rollerskating parties. I liked bowling better, but my favorites were the ones at Chuck E Cheese (or Showbiz Pizza as our original one was called before it was taken over). Because there all the "really cool" kids could show their joystick prowess on Q*Bert, Burgertime, Zaxxon, Mario Brothers and Ms Pac-man. Not to mention trackball prowess on Centipede.

Strangers_have_the_best_candy said...

Hilarious description of the perv! I can almost feel him lurking behind me right now. BTW I love my pair of jorts. How dare you ruin them for me!? These kinds of posts are easily my favorites. Keep it up. Harry Potter tonight!

Tockstar said...

Do you think I can throw these roller skates over that mountain?

Joshua said...

Hilarious (btw). And like any fellow under-sized middle-schooler, I loved and hated the rink.

Do they still have a pro shop where you can check out all the ultra-speed wheels, and bearings and all that? Ah, how I once drooled at wasting my money at the skating rink pro shop...

Did you have a witty comment for the asterisk in your Perv description? I didn't see it at the bottom.


BeckEye said...

This roller rink...I want to go to there.

There's a place down in Coney Island called Dreamland Discotheque (I think that's the name) and they have theme skate parties every weekend. I've already missed the Grease party because I have lame ass friends. I might go to the Ziggy Stardust one this weekend, but only because friends have agreed to go to the Siren Festival. But next week...is XANADU weekend. *Sigh* I, sadly, have other plans already. :(

jed said...

as a somewhat frequent visitor to this joint, i know "the perv." i keep waiting for him to throw a raw steak at me. however, my sweet daughter only gets lessons from me - except for backwards skating.

Billy said...

1. Showbiz was so freakin' cool. I sucked huge rotten eggs at Zaxxon. Hardly ever made it past that first wall.
2. My wife had to throw my jorts away because I refused to part with them. I still haven't forgiven her.
3. Didn't see a pro shop, Josh. And damn if I have no idea what witty addendum I had in mind for that asterisk.
4. If I had the chance to go to a Xanadu-themed roller night, that might usurp anything else that could be on my personal Bucket List.
5. So Jed, are you saying my suspicions, while possibly inaccurate, are at least understandable? It's always nice to know my "Perv-dar" is in sync with someone else's.