“Oh no,” I said, “There are wheels attached to my feet.”
I slowly began to roll forward, my knees locked. My friends, who were swapping out their own normal shoes for tan roller skates, ignored me.
Carefully, I lifted one skate entirely off the ground, and then set it back down again in a motion similar to the one I would use if I were attempting to ski up a hill. The wheels rolled ominously under me. I pushed myself out into the rink, far enough away from the wall that I couldn’t clutch to it desperately.
Okay, I said to myself, I got this.
It is a sad truth that I do not got, nor, frankly, will I ever get, the art of roller skating. It is one of those things that, if not mastered at the age of four, will leave you forever trailing behind, perspiring slightly from the work and the primal fear of “oh I am about to fell over and crack my head open.” However, my complete inability had not stopped me or any of my friends from riding the number 1 bus out to Rollin’ 253 Skate and Community Center for an hour and a half of sliding around with wheels strapped to our feet—because, in the words of my dear friend, “We are going to have fun if it kills us.”
We were having fun—and honestly, it could have killed me.
My friend skated up to me. “It’s Retro Night!” she said.
I looked around. There were no overt indications of anything retro
and the music playing was a generic mix of late-nineties pop.
“When did NSYNC become retro?” I wondered.
Alas, my friend was significantly better than me, and had already sped away, leaving my question hanging in the air. A group of twelve-year-olds, also significantly better than me, heard the question but ignored me.
As the time wore on, I slowly became more and more comfortable with the spinning wheels of death on my feet, gaining speed as I looped around the rink again and again. As I turned the corner, a small girl darted in front of, her skates blurring beneath her. I attempted to stop.
I failed at stopping. My arms flailed, as if the air would suddenly become corporeal and as if by grabbing it I would somehow stop myself from falling. My legs slid out from under me, and I hit the ground with a solid thump. The vibrations reverberated through my entire left side.
“Ow,” I said, still sitting on the ground.
I got to my feet, my entire body protesting. My wheels slid underneath me. I rolled dramatically up to my friends, crashing into the wall to stop.
“I’m here,” I said.
“Are you okay?” one of them asked.
“I think if we were meant to move around with wheels on our feet, we would have evolved like this,” I said.
“Probably,” one said. She held out her hand. “Wanna do another lap?”
I took it—technically, I gripped onto it for dear life. I hoped she was okay with pulling me around the rink, because my legs were not working that well.
“Sure,” I said.