Wednesday, August 16, 2006


A few weeks ago, my friend P.McQ's daughter "Brat" got a pair of rollerblades for her 9th birthday. One evening she was dying to try them out, so we geared her all up and got her rolling. Within ten minutes, she was practically a pro. I thought to myself, "Hmm. It looks so easy, I really should dig my blades out of the closet and give it another try. Maybe it won't be anything at all like the last time...."

[Cue 'dream sequence' music]

I'd bought a pair of rollerblades one summer when I was in grad school up in Rochester, NY. My friend James was a doctoral music theory student and a Canadian. He was also very good on rollerblades (the Canadian thing, no doubt) and inspired me to give it a go.

And so I did and it was fine. We spent many a weekend cruising along the scenic Eerie Canal path which was flat with grassy edges.

Did I mention it was flat? That's an important detail because, due to the path's flatness, I never quite learned how to stop.

When I came back down to NJ, I decided to go out for a spin in the parking lot of a local college. This was a very fancy, multi-tiered parking lot with lots of hills. And I was by myself that day.

I started out pretty confidently - perhaps a little TOO confidently - and figured I'd just 'whip down' one of the hills to the next tier. And as I was 'whipping', I remembered having never learned how to stop. And I was really picking up speed and starting to get scared, as there was nothing but asphalt all around me.

Suddenly I had a brilliant idea: "Maybe if I drag one foot against the curb, it will slow me down enough so I can regain control!"

Yeah, I know. But it seemed like a great fucking idea at the time. And when I connected the side of my right foot with the curb, my foot DID stop. But the rest of me kept going. And I spun down to the ground and rolled about 20 yards.

Now that I think about it, it probably would have been cool to see -- kind of like a stunt woman. But at the time, I pretty much thought I had broken every bone in my body (save for my wrists, as I was wearing wrist guards. JUST wrist guards).

So I dragged my bloody self back to my car. I peeled off the cursed wheel-shoes and threw them into the closet when I got home. Which is where they've been for the past 7 years.

That is, until today.

HE has a pair that have gone unused as well, and we've been discussing the idea of trying to rollerblade together. So this afternoon, I dug out my [bashed up] rollerblades and drove over to the local elementary school's FLAT parking lot. I put on my long socks and donned the skates (and wrist guards), and I cautiously stood up.

I clomped about 3 ft. into the lot and said out loud, "Screw this, " then promptly removed them.

I think I am still a bit traumatized. Rollerblading simply does not feel natural to me. And I've got nearly 250 miles invested in this marathon training, and about 250 left. A broken leg might throw a bit of a wrench into all that.


You win again, rollerblades. Back to your comfy old closet. But don't get too cocky or I may have to leave you out in the rain.

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