It’s 8:45 PM on a Friday night. Four hours ago, when I left work, I would have bet all the gold in Fort Knox that I was more likely to spend my evening scraping crusty barnacles of the bottom of the Queen Anne’s Revenge than hanging out at a roller skating rink. But you get two guesses where I am at the moment I’m writing this, and I’ll give you a hint: there are no boats nearby.
Yes, somehow I managed to end up at a roller rink on a Friday night. In other words, what little pride I might have had when I woke up this morning is no longer even in the same time zone with me.
What’s even worse is that I’m not even skating. I’m sitting off to the side in a booth reminiscent of Al’s Diner. You know, from Happy Days? I’m pretty sure blonde wood-grain Formica went out of style in the mid 80’s. And, well, if you’ve been wondering where it ended up after that, I know now.
So, here I am, surrounded by elementary and middle school kids, one of whom is the Puddinpop*, skating around and around and around in circles.
Circle and circle and circles.
Oh, hey, did I mention they’re skating around in circles?
The thing is, I just don’t get the circles. And yes, I’ve been roller skating. I mean, at some point in the far distant past – when indoor plumbing was a rarity and dinosaurs still roamed the Earth – roller skates touched my feet. And to most everyone’s surprise given my otherwise total lack of grace, I managed to remain upright most of the time.
But while I wasn’t falling down, I wasn’t exactly sure what to do with myself. Besides following the mullet in front of me, that is, which was apparently following the mullet in front of it. At the time, it was one big chain of humanity following the regrettable 80’s hairstyle ahead of him or her, with the hair at the very front chasing the hair at the very back, making a great circle of unfortunateness.
I assumed at the time that the situation was a singular incident; that other people put on roller skates or ice skates and then went off and did…stuff. Surely someone had fun activities and adventures that didn’t include seeing the same posterboard ad for Jimmie’s City Records every 360 degrees.
Turns out, though, I was mistaken. Roller and ice rinks the world over are filled to capacity with circle skaters during "open" skates each and every day. I guess someone must find that sort of thing fun.
Then again, some people find doing their taxes fun too.
Its not that I don’t get skating. I play ice hockey in a recreational men’s league. And roller skating seems like it has potential. But I find wandering around in a circle about as entertaining as watching mushrooms grow.
I suppose it could be just me. Some form of character defect, perhaps? Maybe it’s indicative that I have an underlying philosophical problem with Man’s Endless Search for Accomplishment.
That seems unlikely, though. I’m the same Puddin that once considered sleeping until noon, getting up for a Big Mac and a haircut, taking a nap, and waking up just in time to meet my pals at the bar a Saturday well spent.
I don’t know. The good thing is that the Puddinpop seemed to enjoy skating with his friends. Truth be told, though, after an hour or so I recognized that look in his eye that said he was questioning how he might apply his competitive nature to Circle Skating 101.
See, even the kids get it.
Because when you’re playing "Follow the Mullet", nobody wins.
And apparently the game hasn’t changed in 30 years.