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A few weeks ago I made the decision to go roller skating. In retrospect, I realize now that at my age, this should have been very low on my list of things to do on a Friday night.
My girlfriend, a couple friends and I decided that roller skating would be a good way to kill an evening so off we went, eager to repeatedly circle a room with wheels strapped to our feet, clumsily tempting fate. Apparently everyone else on planet Earth also wanted to tempt fate and the place was packed tighter than free cheeseburger day at McDonald’s. Upon entering the building I wished that I had brought a machete with me in order to get through the door. I needed to hack my way through an invisible wall of teenage hormones that were pouring out. Once we were in and the skates were on we headed towards the floor. The couple that we arrived with tried to out-cool us by bringing their own rollerblades. We didn’t know that they were one step away from being professional skaters and would spend the next hour making us look like the biggest amateurs in the room.
A bunch of kids were blocking the way onto the skating area, which meant that instead of bracing myself against a wall while I got my footing, I just had to go for it and hope for the best. Throughout the night it was difficult to think of anything besides how the roller skating experience had changed since I was a kid. After being inside for only ten minutes I could tell that they did things a lot differently nowadays. Admittedly, some elements of the roller skating experience had remained the same. They still had a snack bar in which all of their foods contained hot dog in some form or fashion, they still had a slew of arcade games tucked away in the back for those kids with poor balance and inner ear problems, and the make out corner was still located in the darkest section of the room, which growing up, I was never a part of… and not by choice.
The things that had changed were what really amazed me. People were skating in massive lines together, taking up the majority of the floor, which back in my day would have gotten you kicked out. These lines made it impossibly difficult to pass anyone, especially when you don’t want to leave the security of the wall. It was a comfort to me knowing that there was something solid to grab onto should things start to go south. Another oddity I noticed was that many of the kids were skating around with what appeared to be some sort of pacifier in their mouths that flashed rainbow colors. The adult in me could only think about how much it would hurt should they fall on their face and have it jammed halfway down their trachea. When you’re a child ignorance really is bliss. Lastly, there seemed to be a new trend of taking digital cameras out onto the skating floor in order for the skaters to snap quick pictures of their buddies for an in-progress Best Friends Forever collage. It wasn’t bad enough that I was trying to stay on my feet and avoid running into anyone, but now I had to deal with constant camera flashes temporarily blinding me every two to three minutes. Somewhere out there, I’m sure that there’s a photo of three teenage girls skating together, smiling and holding hands and somewhere in the background there I am with a surprised look on my face while accidentally body checking a six year old.
It’s quite possible that some of the skaters were unhappy that my crew of ragtag, legal-age skaters was upsetting the demographic of the room. There was a young fellow perched along the wall, watching everyone enjoy the skating experience and each time I shuffled my way by him, he made it a point to scream loudly at me as if he were trying to intimidate a bear into leaving a camp site. I thought maybe it was just one of those crazy fads that kids are into these days but then I noticed that he never did it to anyone else. Another guy who was infinitely more adept at skating than I had apparently made it his mission to knock me over. He made two failed attempts but on his third trip around, he slammed into me, causing me to flail into my girlfriend, which ended up with us both on the floor. Once I recovered I filled with rage and started formulating my revenge plan. Before I could take any action I found myself stuck behind an impassable line of teenage girls that reminded me vaguely of the Berlin Wall. As I was uncomfortably pinned between a group of sixth graders to my rear and a teenage girl whose shirt read “Boy Hater” to the front, I decided to call off the revenge and call it a night.