The Other Side Of The Roller Rink

by Michelle Combs
Originally Published: 
Illustrated pink roller skates with blue laces at the roller rink

I learned to hustle at the roller rink.

Not that kind of hustle. Perverts.

I did the hustle. For you youngsters, the Hustle was a dance. We’d take off our skates in the middle of the rink and dance until the referees got annoyed, made us skate or leave the floor. The skating rink refs were always dicks. Unless their name was Gordon. Gordons were always cool.

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We were all good skaters, weren’t we? We could do the “Jungle Boogie” dance and the twirly dance to “Wildfire.” Well, those are the dances we did if you’re my age. I’m sure you younger people probably danced to Snoop Dogg or the Spice Girls or something. Ours was better.

Skating helped me learn a valuable lesson as an adult. The lesson? Just because something was fun when you were young, doesn’t mean it won’t be a drag when you’re an adult.

You might decide taking your tween skating sounds like a good idea, for instance. Not only would skating be fun, you could finally impress your 12-year-old. Just wait until she and her friends see your moves. You’ll finally be the “cool” mom.

Reality sets in before you lace up your skates. The skates smell like a combination of salt water, off-brand tortilla chips and ass. Of course, encasing your feet in what smells like the meat drawer in your fridge isn’t as horrifying as actually skating.

Your hips start to twitch when you make your triumphant return to the skating rink, but not in a fetching way. They twitch more in a “please don’t break me” way. Skating floors are more slippery than you remember. Also, when you look back on your childhood, you remember sailing around the rink for hours and having slightly pink cheeks at night’s end. Now? After one nerve-racking revolution around the rink, your face turns purple and sweat crawls down your butt crack.

Not only are you afraid of skate funk permanently seeping into your feet, you realize the elusive cool mom status isn’t happening. You spend the rest of the skating outing sitting in an orange plastic booth eating stale nachos. They don’t even have jalapeños. Tortilla chips in your cleavage will soon be the least of your worries.

Remember how crushingly exciting the couples skate was? The lights would dim. The girls would line up along one wall and the boys would skate by and you would wait, dying a little inside at the fear of not being chosen. Then Johnny, the most popular boy at the roller rink, would stop in front of you, and hold out his hand. For the next two songs, you would glide around the skate floor, your hand sweat mingling with Johnny’s hand sweat, and you would bask in the triumph of landing the cool guy. At least for six minutes.

As a mom? That scenario changes. First of all, you are wondering why the girls are lining up and being chosen. Shouldn’t it be a mutual agreement? Are these the lessons we want to continue to teach our daughters? You also have the same heart-stopping fear that your daughter will be left alone to wilt along the wall. That can’t happen! You’re not ready for her to deal with that kind of rejection. The conflict between these two thoughts sends you back to the concession stand for a soft pretzel and a blue slushy.

Then, you watch your daughter skating triumphantly, hand in hand with some boy who would never appreciate your daughter in the manner she deserves. You realize that while you suffered through the fear of possible rejection along with your daughter, you are not rewarded with the giddy high of sweaty hand-holding. Instead you stare, willing your face to not settle into a look of horror, as your precious girl skates while touching a boy. You question everything from the length of her shorts to the wisdom of even teaching her to walk and talk. You consider, for a moment, how much neglecting to potty train your gorgeous girl would have solved so many of these hormone-riddled issues.

You remember your skating rink evenings ending hours before you were ready to be done. Then you return as an adult and within 90 minutes, the smell of sweat and the grating sound of current Top 40 hits makes you want to trash the place the way Johnny Depp trashes a hotel room.

On the drive home, when your daughter and her friends settle into conversations where they obviously forget there is an adult in the car, you find yourself amused and appalled by their words. You can feel the exhaustion and happiness radiating from your spawn and her friends and count the experience as a good one.

Although, it’s not one you will be ready to repeat soon.

Besides, your daughter expressed an interest in seeing a hip hop concert. What better way to be the cool mom than through hip hop? No nasty rental skates required! Besides, that time you took her to see the manufactured Disney pop star wasn’t horrible. How bad could a hip hop concert be?

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