Roller rinks – in their smooth hardwood elliptical wonder – beckon adulthood. Preteens gather in awkward clumps around perimeter arcade games, skeeball, pinball, and skill cranes eyeing equally awkward clumps of the opposite sex near the coin operated lockers.
A skate, offered and accepted despite lump throated askings and palm sweated receivings is the goal. The terms of the agreement: hands interlocked around the rink to a popular slow song under disco balls warbling shimmers of photons in melodramatic reds and blues along the sheen of the hardwood planks. This shall be witnessed by peers.
Tight gripped, the skate commences; as rented brown skates clack their inelegant orange wheels in ungainly pitches and yaws around the oval – a she and him primary and eternal – grimace blissfully to each other for the weakness of knees and the bristle of braces, and the DJ, in his panoptic booth above the fray of fractalated lights oozing from the floor cups a headset. He has been, and remains the shaman of this ceremony of the middle school aged; while a regular: a dervish speedskater of about fifteen in baggy tiger striped parachute pants flapping violently in his wake – whizzes by in lateral arcs and angles in a pair of unnatural quads – wide and florescent that hiss at each lunge.
The couple clatters off the rink after the song, and retires to the snack area. The male of the set, afforded a small amount by his mom, springs for nachos and colas, and they sit, in laminated booth seats, and smile.
Remember When ? Lunchboxes