“Mama, you’re way too old,” Henry said as I laced up my skates. But he didn’t know I held my own with Melanie Whitehead, 1985 Euless Skate-N-Play Roller Skating queen in her Crayola #108, sky blue roller girl costume and her personally owned white lace-up skates.
She could twist and twirl or skate backwards around the whole rink twice to Stayin’ Alive replete with disco moves, but I was fast.
Which is why 20 plus years later, I ignored him. I zoomed past the little children all along the edges of the rink including my own. Their pudgy fingers sealed in a death grip to the rail, staring at me as I passed.
“If you put one foot in front of the other when yer’ turnin’ you’ll have more balance,” a balding, elderly man in sweatpants called to me as he glided by backwards.
I was the last person in attendance who needed his skating tips but I thought I should be nice. Who knew, one day I might decide hair pulling and fist fights were my leisure activity of choice, sign up for roller derby and suddenly find myself in great need of his sage advice.
So I smiled and ignored him too.
“Mama, how’re you doing that?” Henry yelled at me over Donna Summer, entirely impressed with my mad skating skills.
“Because I rock.”
And I did. At least for a few minutes, whirling around the rink waving at the poor children still barely scooting along between falls, and their not brave enough to venture out parents. These same parents who watched like vultures wanting to feed on my broken carcass from the sidelines and prayed for one of their children to fall in my path.
“This is great, we should do this every weekend,” I shouted to Hannah who could now let go of the wall for 2 second increments. She looked to be having slightly less fun than I was but smiled in agreement anyway.
Only 11 dollars for five hours of reverting back to childhood complete with MC Hammer blaring over the speakers and only missing Melanie Whitehead in her sequined
glory, how had I ever passed this up?
At least until they played the Macarena. They had skipped the limbo and the hokey pokey but some genius thought surely children could Macarena one handed.
And they could, with some coaxing. My own coaxing because didn’t I know everything after one hour of skating in 23 years.
So I suppose it was inevitable. The last wiggle of my hips enough to throw off my moment of grace. My arms pin-wheeling, the floor looming entirely too close to my ancient and fragile bones. The final nail in my, for God sakes stupid woman no one should try to be cute over the age of 18, coffin as I slammed my knee into the only a little more forgiving than myself floor.
The rink held its collective breath, perhaps waiting for my defeated scream of agony. I did not wail. A girl can flounder around on the floor with a bit of pride.
I really wanted to though. Big fat, lusty cries of ‘I broke my knee’ like I hadn’t sung since I was at least 12. Far too long if you ask me.
But I only thought it. Beads of sweat dripping over my carefully held together smile as I pictured myself rolling around on the floor wailing.
I wasn’t going to let them win. Not my kids, who had somehow decided 37 was old or the other parents who had forgotten what it feels like to fly.
I unlaced the skates and pulled them off. Gritting my teeth to haul myself from the floor without groaning. I prayed to the gods of self humiliation that I would not fall as I limped off. Surely once was enough for the day.
“That was some kind of fall, Mama. I’d be crying,” Henry said, helping me to a bench.
“Nah,” I grunted, plopping myself down and glaring across the room at the other parents, who quickly turned away.
“Think you could teach me,” he asked. “But you should probably get some knee pads…and maybe a helmet.”