7.30.2006

Bring it Back: The 4-Wheeled Roller Skate

Retro or Rut-Roh?

It's making a comeback as I write this- the footware of a bygone era. The classic rollerskate that defined the childhoods (and the respective bruised knees and broken wrists) of millions, from a time when it was not considered abnormal to spend entire days and nights outside, roaming the neighborhood with all manner of non-license-requiring vehicles- big wheels, bicycles, skateboards, and big shoes with wheels on them.

On the weekends, going to the local rink was a common pastime, where one could observe the menagerie of social customs amongst society's youngfolk: the giggly pre-teen girls talking about the cute DJ, the weird, kinda creepy "old guy" with the mustache ("old" being around seventeen) who knew all the cool moves, like spinning around, skating backward, being a basic showoff, and typically flirting with naive 12 year olds because no one his age would give him a chance. And then there were gawky skaters like me who would hang to the ouside of the circle, trying to avoid being run over while clinging to the wall for dear life and dreading the curves where it was all-too possible that I would not be able to corner properly, at which point I'd go flying into the carpeted barrier as a way to stop myself. And as far as stopping goes- forget about it! Exiting the rink and grabbing onto the nearest bench or colliding with the wall to stop the momentum certainly beat attempting to use that rubber stopper on the toe of the boot and getting a good taste of the floor as a result. And let's not forget the Hokey Pokey.

So yeah, I was never a good skater. In fact, I really hated rollerskating.

So why bring it back? Because the skate... represented a carefree risk of injury that is childhood at its core. It also was a symbol of that awkward pre-pubescent social development phase that seemed to (at least for me, anyway) set the stage for the way I developed relationships for years after it was decided that skating rinks, and the whole idea of making hundreds of revolutions on an oiled wood floor to the beat of "rad music" was starting to seem kinda lame...

It was also just one more thing that kept us kids moving, and in this day and age, the kids need all the help they can get in that department.

So why not a rollerblade?

Simple- rollerblades suck worse. Being able to turn moves in a pair of classic roller skates requires a whole different set of skills, and I admire anyone who can achieve fluidlike Zen mastery while wearing them. I ask you to watch Fred Astair and Ginger Rogers in the classic film Shall We Dance and have a hand available to pick up your jaw when you see them tap-dancing in a pair.

So I say to society: continue to bring back something that was the bane of my childhood existence: the roller skate, and reinsert it back into the mainstream. And ladies, don't forget to put the pom-poms on em too.

3 comments:

  1. Ugh, I sucked at skating. SUCKED.

    But I love the caption on this photo!! LOL.

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  2. My parents turned our basement into a roller rink so I could practice my "artform." Rollerderby has been slowly growing here in Indy and I am very interested. I'll just need a kick ass name!

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  3. Gouda, great one! Definitely bring them back. Screw rollerblades. I have so many memories of rollerskating sessions on Saturdays as a kid.

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