Tough Skating

Line art drawing of a roller skate.

(Wikipedia image)

I was very much a dweeb and a mama’s boy while growing up and consequently lacked many of the social skills necessary for early teen survival. Other boys learned to swim, ride bikes and play a decent game of baseball long before I did. So it should come as no surprise when I say that I didn’t know how to roller skate or talk to girls when I first started to catch the Everett Roller Rink bus that ventured into Snohomish on Saturday nights.

The bus came by my house around 6:30 and stopped at the mom and pop grocery store two blocks up the street on its last stop before heading to Everett. The round-trip fare was free if you bought a three-hour skate pass at the rink, which cost a dollar or so and included skate rental.

As I said, I couldn’t even skate. But I got talked into giving it try by buddies who claimed it was a great way to meet girls outside school. What they neglected to tell me was that you also had to contend with bigger boys who were on the bus for the same reason, as well as to punch, tease and generally ridicule mama’s boys like myself. I was never a small kid, but these were older, tougher boys who smoked cigarettes at 15, swore like mule skinners and put their arms around girls in the back of the bus.

Shyness broke my back in most every attempt at conversing with girls, and my inability to skate left me wearing a neon “loser” sign inside the rink and hugging the rail whenever I did venture onto the floor. Finding a partner for the couples-only skates was about as likely as finding money.

Only once did I manage a scratch single in hitting on girls at the rink, and that happened more by luck than pluck as I fell and accidentally tripped a cute Everett girl named Trish, who was apparently blinded by my sign while skating past too close to the losers on the rail.

“Oh, I’m so sorry. I didn’t see you. Are you alright,” Trish gushed after picking herself off the floor.

I told her it was all my fault, as I couldn’t skate a lick and had no business on the floor anyway. But she took pity and made it her business for the rest of the session to teach me how to skate, or die trying. She held my hand and voiced encouragement as I stumbled around the rink beside her. And she never let go when the lights dimmed and the couples-only skate began.

By 10 o’clock, I was ready to propose, but the session ended and I had to catch my ride home. Trish walked me to the bus, and said she’d look for me the next time I came to the rink. But I never saw her again after she blew me a kiss as the bus pulled away.

(This was  written as a Writers Kickstart prompt, 500 words or less  on The Bus Pulled Away.)

Copyright, Keith L. Olson, 2013


Filed under Memoirs, Prompts

10 responses to “Tough Skating

  1. Just moving through my old emails that I had saved. Found this piece, sure do miss your voice. Toni Date: Thu, 21 Mar 2013 17:29:51 +0000 To:

  2. Patty

    I remember the bus, and the “dreaded” moonlight skate. It was a way for us “stuck” either in or out of town, to “meet” our dream guy or girl, in our
    adolescent minds. Ah the dreams. I wasn’t a gifted skater. I too, remember, (because you reminded me) of the night, I was asked to skate, by the current dreamboy, for the moonlight skate. It was magical. I skated my best, followed him well, and fell in love. Never saw him there again. Broke my heart, for about a month. Made my heart ready, to just dust off, and keep looking. You have made me remember that hope and young glow. Thank-you. Patty

  3. Steve Grigg

    Keith, your post made me laugh and brought back some good, yet also humbling, experiences of my own at the local skating rink here in Lynnwood back in the day…

  4. Keith, I love your writing. YOu really are a wonderful writer. Thank you for another open, honest, heart felt memory.

  5. Now I understand why Boy Scouts and chicken skinning. Explains a lot. It also explain the bare arse winter plunge on the Pilchuck. You’ve come a long way Keith -O.

  6. You’ve grown into such an accomplished, self-confident man, Keith-O. From meager beginnings….

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