We gave Alexa a pair of roller skates for her birthday this year. They are the pink plastic kind that go over her shoes, with adjustable resistance that allows us to keep her from going full speed into a crash on the kitchen floor.
Right now the skates mostly serve as vehicles for her pirate dolls and their adventures. Alexa has a ways to go before she’s a limbo skater, but that doesn’t stop me from reminiscing about those birthday skate parties and Friday Night Free Skates of my youth.
The roller rink is a vivid memory, the sound of the wheels going round and round. Kids wearing their favorite puffy colored socks to bulge over the top of their rental skates and just under their tight-rolled jeans. The agony of deciding whether to do the Slow Skate, and if so, with whom. The awkwardness of hovering over a toilet seat on wheels. And the double awkwardness of hearing rumors about sexual awakenings among your peers. I once heard something about a salt shaker that traumatized me for a few years (I’m still trying to forget it).
The Speed Skate was what I enjoyed the most. Going as fast as I could around those curves, daring to pretend I was an Olympian. The times my BFF and I would gain momentum and spin each other around — that felt like the ultimate trick.
The tinny sound of 1980s pop was our lifeblood during these excursions. No song exemplifies this like “Waiting for a Star to Fall.” So pop, so happy, so hopeful. That was the roller rink of my youth. A place where innocence met puberty. Where one minute you could skate to “Walking on Sunshine” and the next to “Point of No Return.” Where obvious meets innuendo.
Does any of this ring a bell?
In case you’d like to time travel, I compiled the best roller skating music playlist* for you. There are only a few slower jams, so you don’t have to worry about where to put your hands.
*Would be a kick-ass workout soundtrack, too.