Who doesn't like the idea of being able to glide around on wheels? It is a grand thought, to be able to skate around all day long like a graceful ice princess while you do the dishes and such. The closest I have seen to anyone achieving this is the whole Heelies thing. I know that even if they do make them for adults, I would clomp around in them rather than sleekly skim around my kitchen, and the whole effortless thing would just be a total loss. There are reasons that I think this way.

I got my first pair of rollerskates when I was about four, I think, those blue and orange and yellow plastic Fisher-Price ones, which I quickly grew out of. My mother had bought some ancient metal skates at a rummage sale -- the kind you adjusted with a key! -- so those were next. They always fell off my feet with a great clatter as I attempted to master them skating around in circles on the concrete floor of the basement. I was determined to be free of the effort of walking.

Then came the roller disco era. Now, I hated disco, of course I did, but this was what I was handed so I had to deal. I got a pair of light brown Adidas-looking shoe skates with yellow wheels, considered quite hip at the time. My friend Margaret was dating a guy named Art, and his band was going to play the Waukesha roller rink, and I was going to go, hoping of course there would be a cute guy in the band to fall in love with.

The evening of the roller gig, Margaret and I tarted ourselves up at her mom's apartment: big wide bell low-rise jeans, peasanty-type shirts, light blue eye shadow and globs of Great Lash mascara, Love's Musky Jasmine perfume, and assorted cheap jewelry we had shoplifted from the local drugstore. We met Art and the band in the parking lot behind the rink as it was just starting to get dark. Now, Art was quite the '70s looker, he was skinny with long straight blonde hair and looked like Shaun Cassidy with somewhat of an acne issue. I think he was an older man, something like 17. I had my eyes on the drummer with dark curly hair and the Qiana shirt open to mid-bare-chest. I believe some weed and cans of Pabst were about.

Margaret and I helped the band bring in their equipment while kids started to filter into the rink. I felt pretty damn special, although Margaret was the queen because Art was the lead singer. I kept checking out the drummer, and the bassist, a quiet tall blue-eyed boy, seemed to be checking out me. As the band started, we stood over to the side and watched and danced, as girls were to do. The band was not too good, I thought, but no matter -- this was still cool. The kids and teens and a few adults went around and around the rink with the disco ball reflecting bursts of light over everyone.

When the band finished their first set, we all put on our skates -- me in my cool new shoe skates -- and got on the rink. My years of constricted practice in the basement had at least gotten me to the point where I didn't fall down very much, and I could get going pretty damn fast. The problem was, which I didn't realize at first, was that when I pushed to start going faster, I would throw my left leg out hard. The rink was jammed, and as I kept pushing and dodging people, I began to realize I was knocking people over with that kicked-out leg. Oooooopsie. I was altered enough to think this incredibly funny. BAM! Down went a kid. BAM! Down went a teen couple holding hands. BAM! Another little kid. HAHAHAH!

When it was time for the band to start their second set, I left the rink, clomping on the carpet. I felt a heavy hand on my shoulder. I looked up. A very unhappy, very big man with a rink t-shirt was looking down at me. By his side was an angry mom-looking woman and a pouting boy. The man spoke.

"You've been deliberately knocking down children out there!"

I was immediately on the defense. "No! That is not true! I didn't do anything! It's crowded!"

"You are going to have to leave for the night, miss."

"WHAT??? NO! NO! I am with the band, I need to go over there!"


Shit! He was not kidding, and I was feeling like I had better not press the point. I tried to see over the crowds of skaters to try to get Margaret's attention, but no luck. The rink guy stood over me as I took off my skates and put on my wobbly Famolare sandals, and escorted my humilated ass out the front door to the parking lot. SHIT!

I immediately went to the back where we had been, and pounded on the door. It was locked and the band was loud enough that no one was going to hear me. Nothing to do but wait. I sat down on the asphalt, pulled a Newport out of my purse and lit it with my red Bic, and angrily smoked away, the puffs drifting into the orange glow of the parking lot street lamps.

After what seemed to be hours, the back door opened and the band started bringing out their equipment. I snared Art and asked him where Margaret was. As it turned out, while I was clocking people on the rink, he and Margaret were having a blow-out fight by the concession area. He got all red-faced telling me this, and didn't look quite as handsome as I thought he was before. I got the gist that she had run out the front door, so I ran all away around the building again to try to find her before it got much later and I would be stuck walking back to her place alone in the dark on my stupid heels. Lucky for me, she hadn't gone far; she was down a little further in the strip mall where the rink was, leaning against the dry cleaning shop, smoking and crying. She saw me and hugged me and said "Where the hell did you go?" and cried harder. When I told her I got kicked out and why, she started laughing, and laughed so hard her original tears became mixed with hysterical giggle tears. I laughed with her, and we started walking to her place, while she told me some very long story of Art's flirting with a blonde girl.

Margaret promptly got over Art, found a new boyfriend within a week, and I never saw him, the curly-headed drummer, or the tall bassist again. We did go to the rink a few more times, and I tried my best to contain my left leg. I think I saw the Rink Guy scowl at me.

I still have the shoe skates. They are covered in spiderwebs and smell like I don't even know what, but I still have them.