Saturday, May 03, 2008

Time travel to another "Galaxy"

A month or so ago, my cousin Frankie (age 29) texted me one night: "guess where i'm at." The possibilities seemed endless. "Um, in a hotel room with Marv Albert?" I texted back. Frankie replied, "no, galaxy skateway in davie!"

For most grown-ass adults, the reaction might be "why?" or "who cares?" As one who still has her first pair of Riedells and enjoys skating in Central Park's circle at 72nd Street, a little part of me died when the last indoor skating rink in NYC closed two years ago. So, it was with too much excitement that I texted back (flush with jealousy), "NO F'N WAY! We're soooo there when I'm in FL next month!"

And so it went. I arrived in FL last Thursday morning and was at Galaxy Skateway that night for "Adult Skate" in Davie with my cousin and his friend. Just like that, I was transported back to middle school (this is a good thing). As we pulled into the parking lot, I wasn't sure what I was more afraid of: falling on my ass or OD'ing on nostalgia.

See, my formative years were spent on roller skates. When I was in elementary school (1978-83), I went every Wednesday with an after-school program to Galaxy Skateway in Margate, FL (about 15 miles north of Davie). Skating on hideous brown and orange rentals (with a bum wheel coated in gum) on a dangerously-smooth cement rink, I grooved to disco like Cheryl Lynn's "Got to Be Real" and early hip hop like "Pack Jam" by the Jonzun Crew. "Good Times" (think Chic) for real.

Then, from 1984-87, I spent nearly every Friday night skating with my friends round and round a much nicer hardwood circle at Coral Springs Skating Rink (now a Pep Boys). I say "nearly" because I was grounded for an entire summer between 7th and 8th grade (a most sinister attack on my social life by the 'rents). The first "big ticket" item I ever bought myself was my Riedell 2-stripe speed skates. After saving all summer between 6th and 7th grades, I finally bought them ($106 is a lot of babysitting and b-day $ for an 11-yr-old).

By that time, skating had evolved to "shuffling" so my friends and I would line up in pecking order (alpha female first and so forth -- the alpha usually had a brush in the back pocket of her Guess jeans). We'd shuffle for hours around the rink to jams like Trinere's "All Night" and Egyptian Lover's "Egypt, Egypt." When our feet throbbed from shuffling, we'd line up again (in our socks now) to perform dances such as the Cabbage Patch for whatever boys happened to be watching. Luckily, 14-yr-old boys are easy to impress.

Flash to April 2008 and Davie's Galaxy Skateway (where I'd never been before). On the outside, it looked just like the one in Margate. I worried how I'd do on a cement rink but was happy to see it was a hardwood one just like Coral Springs'. From the weird bullet-proof glass booth they make the cashier sit in at the front entrance (it's only $10 to get in -- how much money could possibly be in the register?) to the stale carpeting and "Donkey Kong" video games, it was as though time had stood still.

Not sure what the purpose of a clock is in a place where time doesn't exist.

I rushed over to the skate rental counter (brown and orange skates still in operation) and happily told the ancient man behind it that I wanted speed skates in size 8. Yep, they now rent Riedells (oh, what that would've done for my rep in 6th grade!). Giddy with excitement, I laced them up and hit the floor (not literally, thank God) before Frankie grew tired of my "and then this other time" stories.

Because it was "adult skate night," the DJ was playing old school songs from the days of 12" singles. Hea-ven! MC Shy-D's "Gotta Be Tough" was the first song, then K.J. an' da Fella's "Get Retarded (Now Go!)," then the Megatrons' "Rock the Planet" and then my head started spinning. No wait, that was the jacked up wheels of my skates about to take me into the wall. Ugh! Rentals still suck even when they're Riedells? WTF?!

Me and my cousin Frankie embracing the non-brown skate.

Okay, back at the rental counter to get a different pair, this time size 7. Perfect! (trick: if you can wiggle your toes, you'll be on your ass) Back on the floor, I quickly found myself shuffling again, even after all these years. By the 20th time around the rink, I started to realize why my legs were built like a brick shithouse as a teenager. My cousin's friend (who had come with her inline skates only for exercise purposes) shouted to me, "ugh, I wish they'd reverse the skating direction so we could work the other leg!"

"Whatever, weird adult lady," I thought. It was as though I had time traveled to another "Galaxy" and was once again feeling my 8th grade self (but now a very satisfied 36C). Granted, I wasn't as good as the other adults whose shuffling skills suggested they hadn't missed a Friday night since '88. There were even skate dance crews in the center of the rink and girls in Guess jeans! With the triangle and question mark logo, no less!

In fact, it was so '80s skating rink that the social pecking order was also very much intact despite the fact that most of us were in our late 20's and 30's. This became very obvious during the "speed skate" session where only the "coolest" were on the rink (with the lights turned up so all could observe and approve of their coolness).

Wait, reality check: I was in Davie, FL. At a roller skating rink. On adult skate night. It was a dorkfest, probably. But for just a few hours, it was sooooo cool to be back in '86.

Lights on for the "cool" kids while I finally got my shuffle on in these rentals.

For those who have no freakin' idea what "shuffling" is, this is close enough.


Dan the Man said...

So when you say you were immediately transported back to eighth grade, do you mean (1) you had a bottle of Absolut in your hand (2) your hair had its own zip code and/or (3) you were only into your third year dating Fito?

Punkapoo said...

You're right on one point: while my hair wasn't yet drinking Aqua Net, I was.

I think you've inspired me to write an "ode to my hair" blog.