Friday, August 31, 2012

What the Heck is an All-Skate?

Erik is out of the office this week, so we are reprinting a column from the TRUE start of the century, 2001.

My oldest daughter has done something completely horrible and utterly impossible.

She has asked me to take her roller skating. Apparently she overhead her mother talking with her aunt about the great and wonderful times they had at skating parties when they were kids, skating to "Copacabana" or "YMCA". My daughter thought this was something we should do.

"No, Honey. Daddy doesn't like roller skating."

Here comes the lower lip. "But Mommy said we could go roller skating."

"Oh, she did, did she? Why can't you just go with Mommy? I'm sure she just meant you two."

"But I want you to go," she whimpered.

How can you say no to that? Maybe if I just tag along, but don't actually go out on the floor. . . No, no, what am I saying?!

What my little angel doesn't understand is that some people — namely me — have emotional scars from childhood that prevent them from roller skating as adults.

I used to enjoy roller skating as a boy, and attended every skating party my elementary school held. There was just something about skating parties, the flashing lights and music, the disco ball, and racing out onto the floor when an "allskate" was called, or trying to find a girl who wasn't repulsed by me when the DJ cruelly called "Okay, couples only."

At that age, we boys were painfully aware that the girls could just as easily skate with each other as they could with us. However, the boys would never partner up, thus forcing us to sit out of the couples skates like a bunch of ten year old losers.

As I entered my early teens, I stopped skating because I didn't want to draw attention to myself, This was odd, since I spent those same years trying to draw attention to myself by making bad jokes and rude noises.

I haven't grown out of phase either, clinging stubbornly to tradition.

I also still don't like skating.

I mean, how much fun can you have skating in a big circle to Eddie Money's "Two Tickets to Paradise" wearing skates that 500 other people have stuck their sweaty feet into? But that apparently isn't cool. The really cool people took their own skates to the rink.

They're "cool" in the same way that wine geeks bring their own wine to restaurants.

One skating party, I was wearing my new blue hoodie my mom had just gotten for me, and one for my sister, with our names on the back. I was cool! I was hip! I had my name on the back of my sweatshirt, and no one else did!

As I skated, my friend David skated up next to me.

"Who's Lisa, your girlfriend?"

"No, my sister." What a dork. I'd known this guy for five years, and he knew my sister. "Why?"

"Because you're wearing her sweatshirt."

My ears roared as I took off the offending sweatshirt and stared. Sure enough, there was my sister's name on the back in big white shiny letters that whistled and waved at all my friends so they would notice that I was wearing a girl's sweatshirt.

Of course, the evening could only get worse. A neighborhood bully, Steve, decided to harass me for the rest of the evening, and started chasing me around the rink.

While I may have been smaller and geekier than Steve, I was also smarter — which wasn't that hard — which I could actually use to my advantage for once.

Steve would come screaming across the rink on an intercept course toward me, like an 11-year-old fighter plane on skates. At the last second, just as he was reaching his dirt-encrusted fingers out for me, I juke quickly to the left, sending him crashing into the wall.

This only made him madder, and he chased me a little faster. When I figured out he wasn't smart enough to change his tactics, I began skating closer to the wall so he wouldn't have to to relax and hit it harder while I skated out of the way. This went on for nearly an hour before he finally realized he wasn't going to catch me, and gave up.

I finally stopped skating in middle school when I realized it wasn't nearly as cool as it was when I was 10, but I look back on those days a little fondly, and wonder a little if I'm missing anything by not taking my daughter skating.

But only a little. I'll let her mother take her and I'll watch from the sides.

The second edition of Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), is now available. I wrote it with my good friend, Kyle Lacy.

My other book, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide to Social Media Marketing is also out.

You can get both of them from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million in October, or for the Kindle or Nook.


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