Yoda has been invited to a roller skate birthday party. Bashert has bravely stepped up to attend with. I don’t do roller skates anymore. She, however can be a glutton for punishment.
Now, once upon a time, roller skating meant family time.
On Saturday’s mornings, a four year old Nenè and I would join my sister Raquel and her family at one of the local skating rinks. The Starlight offered three hours dedicated to kids under the age of 10 and their parents for around $1.50 a head plus skate rentals.
Imagine that – a good and cheap way to have fun with your family.
The routine was basically the same every Saturday. We’d go in, the elders of us would rent our boots and hit the hardwood rink ready for about a half hour of precarious balancing.
In Nenè’s case, I buckled on her Fisher-Price “learn to skate” skates and she would walk around the rink – never was much of a risk taker in those days, Nenè.
We would all skate to the fantastic urban beat of “Ice, Ice, Baby” and “Ghostbusters”. Those of us feeling brave enough would mime out the letters to “YMCA”, while still rolling.
After the half hour of free skate, the games would begin.
I always enjoyed the Hokey-Pokey, except for the turning about. Turning about makes me motion sick, so I would end up doing some strange version of jazz hands while remaining in place.
They used to give out Tootsie Rolls at the end of that segment, but the floor ended up too gunky, so that had to end. Too bad, I like Tootsie Rolls.
The next activity arranged was usually some sort of race.
The race that became my downfall, figuratively and literally was Red Light/Green Light.
For those of you who may not be familiar with this particular game, it goes as such;
The Moderator instructs everyone to line up at the start. The Moderator then turns their back to the assembled racers and yells “Green light!” at which time all the participants run or in our case skate, like mad demons to get as far as they can before the Moderator turns and yells, “Red light!” Anyone caught moving after the red light call is put out of the game. First one across the finish line wins.
At the Starlight, winning usually meant a token for food or free skate rentals. Stuff that brought out the competitive spirit of all those kids and parents.
So there we were, all lined up and ready for fierce competition – my sister Raquel, her husband M’pudi, daughter Noël, son Epic, me and Nenè.
Recall that Nenè is wearing skates that have stops on the wheels that prevent them from free movement. We would not be in competition for first place.
“Green light!” And we’re off. “Red light!” We stop. “Green light!” Another few feet for Nenè and me – Raquel has zoomed to the front of the pack.
“Red light!” I positioned to brake and felt my knee with the torn cartilage start to give. As soon as I shifted my weight (which wasn’t so considerable back then) to relieve the knee, the world went black and down to the floor I sank.
I vaguely remember trying to avoid crushing Nenè as I came down.
Nenè began to cry saying she hurt her elbow. My ability to speak was hanging in the air with the little bursts of light circling my head. I eventually managed to squeak out a feeble, “Are you okay?”
It took the field of play a moment or two to realize that a player was down for the count. Raquel often reminds me that she was about to cross the finish line first when I my accident called a halt to the game afoot. She still hasn’t forgiven me totally.
M’pudi helped get me up off the floor and rolled me over to the side lines. There I removed my skating boot and witnessed a rather large egg size swelling on the outside of my right ankle.
It was agreed that I should go to the emergency room and have it checked out even after a physician who was there with his kid looked at it and said it was most likely just badly sprained.
Yeah, badly sprained doesn’t make you want to throw up when you put the least little pressure on it.
M’pudi and Raquel loaded me into the car and M’pudi took me to the emergency room while Raquel took the kids on home.
Long story short? Four hours later I was in surgery having two screws placed in my broken ankle and spending the night in the hospital, while my mother packed her bags and began her drive down from Virginia to come help me for two weeks.
About six years down the road, I got back on skates just to prove a point – what and why I’m not sure, but I did it.
Nenè was skating on her own and Bashert was with us. That may have been the night that Bashert broke her coccyx, trying to avoid slamming into a small child.
Nope, I don’t do roller skates anymore.