Last month, my friend Ali turned 25, and she thought it would be funny to celebrate by hosting a good old-fashioned skating party. Yes, you read that right. A skating party. At a skating rink. The kind we all used to frequent when we were thirteen. And since it'd been about that long since I stepped foot inside a rink, I thought it would be fun to relive this blast from the past and excitedly sent in my RSVP. Just the thought of going skating again conjured up all sorts of memories: playing the hokey-pokey and hoping to win a rabbit's foot key chain instead of the crappy plastic skate one that always seemed to break within five minutes of my touching it; hoping my crush would ask me to skate during the couples' skate; agreeing to "go out" with a boy during a sixth-grade class field trip and then "dumping" him ten minutes later when I had a change of heart. As a fully-grown (well, almost) woman of 26, I wondered what the skating rink experience would be like now, and I was also curious to see if I would fall on my ass.
The scene of the birthday festivities was United Skates of America on Armenia Avenue, a rink, I was told by Ali's father, that had been around since he was a kid. And lemme tell you: for a rink that old, it was bangin'. Seriously! There's no other word to describe it. The floor was polished wood, much like in a basketball court, and skating on it was like flying. Honestly, I feel like I got gypped as a kid, because the rinks in Tallahassee and Perry were nowhere near as nice as that. In fact, they were the complete opposite: ghetto as hell. The floors were made of this gross blue concrete mixture, and I know for a fact that the floor in the Perry skating rink had chunks missing. They weren't huge chunks, but if a kid hit it just right, he'd be ass over heels in no time. And the skates you could rent at both places were a safety hazard in and of themselves: brakes missing, loose wheels, fraying shoelaces. But this place on Armenia? Skating paradise.
Bangin' skating rink
How nice the rink was caught me off-guard, but I really wasn't prepared for how...asshole-ish (I'm going for it) some of the kids were. They had no skating etiquette whatsoever! Since it had been awhile since Ali and I had skated, it took us some time to re-master the basics, like slowing down, braking, and steering, and until we got completely comfortable, we looked like two hunchbacked old ladies who were about to fall at any moment, trying to warn people by flailing our arms. It was wonderfully moronic, and it was a shame that Ali's mother didn't capture it on video (yes, her parents, two nephews and grandmother were there as well, and her mom videotaped us like we were ten). Considering how inexperienced we had to have looked, it would stand to reason that if you were a child, or simply anybody who skated frequently, you would steer clear to avoid a collision, right? WRONG. In fact, I think our lack of skating talent served more as a magnet because those little bastards would decide to dart out in front of us at the last minute, and then skate a little too close for comfort around the turns. And one idgit who almost caused a collision decided that it was our fault and declared war. After we all almost fell, he exclaimed, "Not cool!" and then would skate a ways, stop suddenly and turn around right as we approached (almost causing another accident) and say things like, "I'm watching you!" People, I shit you not. He looked to be about all of seven, and I swear to God had it not been time for him and his little friends to eat their pizza lunch, I would have tripped him, feeling no remorse whatsoever. He pissed me off that much. While he was the only kid to declare war, he was not the only kid with poor skating etiquette. I felt like I was in a weird, real-life game of Minesweeper, having to avoid hitting the children lest I get asked to leave for "being a bully."
Bangin' skating rink after the asshole kids arrived
But despite the asshole kids, Ali and I had an absolute blast. Some things were still the same, like the games and prizes, the food (best nachos ever) and those one or two people who liked to show off their mad skating skillz and do little tricks to make the rest of us hate them. We killed it in the arcade room, winning enough tickets so that each of Ali's two nephews could pick out a "good" prize (you know, the kind that takes hundreds of tickets to get). And, yeah--we fell on our asses. Hard. Then we just sat there on the skating rink floor for a minute or two, laughing them off, another moment that Ali's mother forgot to videotape. And after we left the rink that afternoon, we headed over to Ali's parents' house, where we celebrated Ali's birthday like actual grownups: with cocktails.