Friday, November 21, 2008


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I have never roller bladed. It seems I have this habit of throwing out my hands when I fall, and I've broken my left wrist twice, the first time while on ice skates. I was in the public rink at the time, with only one other skater on the ice. We were both practicing skating backwards, and we collided. I heard my wrist snap when I hit the ice, a Coley fracture.

Anyway, I have never been brave enough to try rollerblading, as I get more inflexible and less foolhardy. However, I have roller skated. When I was in elementary school, all the girls took roller skating lessons a the local rink. I've tried to find an image of what skates looked like then, but I'll have to describe them. They had 4 wheels made of hard plastic, one on each corner of the skate. In the front, set at an upward angle, was a big rubber eraser-looking thing. What you did, when you wanted to stop, was to tip your skate up in the heel and let the rubber bumper touch the wooden floor and slow you down. The stopper-thing would wear down over time, but could be replaced. You did all this on a wooden floor, they played music, etc. etc.

We were too poor to afford anything like this, so we skated on the sidewalks on our street. I was just looking at our old house in North Miami on Google maps, from the street view, and if I ever figure out how to save a view I'll post it. But it reminded me of the concrete sidewalks that ran in front of every house for blocks and blocks. To skate on these, the wheels were steel, no toe bumper, so we usually stopped by crashing into something. Unlike "real" skates, there was no shoe attached. You instead clamped the skate to your own shoes and tightened it up with a skate key (I've got a brand new pair of roller skates, you've got a brand new key...) There was a tether strap that went around your ankle, which was useful because the skates flew off all the time. No parent in their right mind in these modern times would let kids skate on public sidewalks on such dangerous contraptions, but of course we never thought of any of that. We didn't have seat belts either. When Mom drove, she had an ingrained habit of throwing out her right arm whenever she had to stop suddenly, that was meant to keep the kid in the front seat from going through the windshield. But I digress.

Skating was a lot more work than bicycle riding, what with the high amount of friction between steel wheels and cement that never let you get up to speed. Also turning was pretty much stop-and-walk until you got lined up in the new direction. But for a change of pace, skating was fun.

Oh yeah, no one ever heard of helmets either, and I sported skinned knees and forehead lumps much of the time in summer. I don't have a photos of that either.

Bumper Sticker for today: "The older you get, the better you realize you were."

1 comment :

Eugene Kwok said...

Interesting Post. I can't really skate well either.

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