The Roller Rink, Revisited

By Lynne Brown

“Roller skating?” My friend asked, her mouth puckering a little bit. “I don’t know, it’s been maybe…twenty five years since I’ve done that.”

“Me too. It will be fun,” I said, not sure it would but hoping so. “Isn’t it just like riding a bike?”

I was looking for some new entertainment and since I was now in my forties, I had a hankering for something that would make me feel young again. Or at least younger. My husband and I are pretty active, but we’d started to become sedentary, offering too many excuses for not exercising which can equal too many extra pounds.

I remembered how much I liked to roller skate as a kid. I’d go up and down our block all day until the sun set and I could barely see the sidewalk anymore, my feet hot and aching, and my knees raw from the many tumbles I took when my confidence exceeded my ability. But eventually, I got good enough to go to the skating rink where I learned to dance and skate backwards. It was also where I learned how truly awkward the age of 12 could be. Every time the lights dimmed for couples skate, I tried not to look around, but I always did, anxious for the cutest and best skater to invite me out. When they didn’t, I’d huddle in a corner eating milk duds and nachos and pretending I didn’t care.

I found a roller rink within driving distance and told my husband my idea.

“Skating, yeah,” he said with a slight note of nostalgia. “I used to be really good.” He’s full of surprises. “As a matter of fact, I have my own pair of skates. They’re around here somewhere.” He spun in place a few times. “I used to be able to do the splits.”

Splits? I made a skating date for that Friday night.

Our friends joined us and when we walked into the worn-out carpet, disco lights, loud teenagers, and swishing of wheels against the wooden floor, it was as though not one day had passed since junior high.

We all put on our rented skates (except my husband who managed to find his pair from college in the garage, stuck behind two gallons of paint) and tentatively wobbled to the hand-rail.

“This could be disastrous,” I said to my friend whose kids had already jetted out in front of us and fallen almost immediately.

“Or it could be the most fun we’ve had in a long time.”

We began by careening around groups of girls who were holding onto each other for dear life, kids producing high pitched yelps as they ran into the railing, and a few hot shots who zoomed in an out of the crowd. But after about five loops we got our sea legs, and we were skating, really skating, like we remembered. Not only that, but we were better than the young ones. I realized all those years of not having video games or 3,000 TV channels to subdue us into a vegetative state during our childhood meant we did active things, like roller skating (in almost any kind of road condition) and it all came back to us. Yes, just like riding a bike.

Since the DJ was taking requests, I approached the booth. A sixteen year old with a wide smile and flop of brown hair stood up and leaned down to ask me what I wanted to hear. “How about, ‘Play that Funky Music’…you know, for the older people.”

His incredibly wide smile got even wider.

“Adult skate everybody,” the young man crooned from his DJ stand. “You can only be on the floor if you are over the age of twenty.” That left exactly five of us. As my requested song started, almost everyone in the place jammed themselves up against the skate wall, watching my husband and I, our two friends, and an older gentlemen with enough old school funk in his skates to time warp us to 1976, go round and round to the Wild Cherry smash hit.

The couples skate was next and I got all sentimental and excited that I finally had a partner. The best skater and cutest boy in the room came to dance with me. It may have taken 36 years, but it finally happened. He skated backwards and wrapped his arm around me. I blushed. I might have even squealed. It was delightful.

But we are all nearing 50 and what we used to be able to do all night, we could only do for about an hour. My husband strained his hamstring, I got a colossal blister, and we were all winded and ready for ice cream far sooner than we should have been. But it was worth it. When my husband and I were taking our skates off, a couple of girls started to giggle. “You guys are really good skaters,” they gushed as they hurried past us. There was something about being validated by a couple of tweens that made the night extra special. The whole affair definitely made me feel young again, okay, younger and we’ve already made another skating date, especially since next time my husband promised to try the splits.

About this writer

  • Lynne Brown

    Lynne Brown

    Lynne Brown writes nostalgic articles, reflections on faith, and has currently finished her first novel. She has a love for antiques, classic films, and horribly fatty foods. When not writing or re-writing, she’s in full fledged ministry at her church, browsing in second hand bookstores, traveling near and far, and gardening (badly). She lives in Southern California with her charming husband and ornery cat.

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3 Responses to “The Roller Rink, Revisited”

  1. Linda O'Connell says:

    Lynne, your story was delightful. My 81 year old aunt swears she would love to go skating. She works at Six Flags and probably would if we took her.

    • Lynne Brown says:

      Thanks Linda! I want to be just like your aunt when I’m 81 :) My husband and I ride bikes and are often out distanced on the road by folks 20 years older than us. I so admire their tenacity! Definitely something to emulate.

  2. Rose Ann says:

    At 45, I did a cartwheel on a bet. It wasn’t pretty. I guess our center of gravity really does change, LOL. So impressed that your performance was so graceful–blisters and all. Great essay!

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