Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Smooth Move, Polyester Slacks

Spring of 1982. The big All-School Rollerskating Day was coming up. Once a year my elementary school would rent out the local skating rink and have a Saturday afternoon of wholesome family fun wheeling round, listening to the pop hits of the day. Of course I was going. This was Roller Skating we were talking about. Like sticker albums and Michael Jackson, roller skating was a BIG DEAL.

I was in Ms. Greglein's class, and I had had my eyes on Nicolette for some time. Unlike most kids, who, when they get a crush, punch and kick the objects of their affections, I knew Nicolette was special. She didn't deserve such treatment. She was classy.

I was going to ask her to go roller skating with me. We'd hold hands during the couple's skate, the light from the disco ball bathing us in magic and transporting us to Loveland.

It was to be the first time I asked a girl out.

It's difficult to plan a date when you depend on your parents for rides around. And money. But I was going to find a way to make it work. Nicolette's destiny was to fall in love with and get married to me. We would live in a tree with our 26 dogs and eat cinnamon toast everyday for breakfast. I had it all planned out. I even had names for the dogs.

But first, I had to get her to see how bold I was, how suave and determined I was. Just wait until she got to see my mad skating skills.

Two days before the big event, I spotted Nicolette walking with Francesca to their bus after school. I hurried to catch up, then, acting nonchalant was all, "Hey Nicolette, what's happening?"

She and Francesca said hi. We walked along.

"So... Really looking forward to roller skating this weekend. I was thinking, do you want to go with me to the rink?" I asked.

"Well, I'm going, so I guess I'll see you there?" She replied. I didn't let this deter me. Just play it cool, I thought to myself, you're doing fine. It's probably just a logistics thing. I'll just wow her with my ability to skate backwards, and she'll fall head over heels. Figuratively, hopefully. A concussion probably wouldn't help my cause.

"So, that's cool, I'll see you there," I said as we walked along. Thinking: SWISH! "It's gonna be great."

Then as I turned to go,


I walked face-first into a metal pole.

I bounced back and fell on my ass in the lot. I don't even remember if Nicolette or Francesca reacted at all. Perhaps they simply continued on to the buses. As a gangly teenager, or even an adult who could laugh at this stuff, this may have been a huge setback from which recovery might not be possible. I imagine if this scene were to play out now, in the midst of my adultivity, I would hope for the CERN Large Hadron Collider to successfully open a black hole into which I would promptly step, preferring to be ripped asunder by the forces of nature than to ever be seen by the girl in this life again.

In the end it didn't matter. What the hell does a seven year old need with romance? And truth be told, I could never skate backwards. Maybe that pole was saving me from further embarrassment and a possible coma when I split my skull open trying to impress the girl. I still don't understand how all those dogs were to get up into the tree, so perhaps it's all for the best.

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