Walking from fourth period to fifth period in high school was torturous. I could see the ocean on that long walk to Economics. I tried not to look because once the Ocean and I made eye contact, it was over. She'd blow in my face and I'd close my eyes unable to go against Her will. She'd say, "Go get Betsy, and get your ass down here." Ok, Madame Ocean.
Betsy and I were roller skaters; quad-wheel, old school skaters because we were put on skates in the 1970's, a time where doing everything on skates was a reasonable mission. My first pair of skates had metal wheels that nearly rattled the teeth out of my head one chip at a time, and god-for-fucking-bid you'd catch a twig or some shit under your wheel causing it to lock up and then launch you into a parked car. That smarts. I got a pair of hand-me-down skates when I was nine with plastic transparent yellow wheels that rode close to a dream. I'd skate to the grocery store and for whatever reasons, they'd let me skate inside the store picking up milk and bread and cigarettes for my mom (I said it was the 70's).
At the end of junior high, I got a pair of new, white skates with hot-pink wheels that I practically slept in. I bought the pin-wheel accessories and tied them to my laces.
So, Ms. Ocean would call us down and Betsy and I would strap on our skates and ditch school to get to Her. We'd skate to Bay Street and then onto the bike path and head south until we hit Venice Beach. Venice Beach on the weekends was a three-ringed freak show for all tourists to enjoy, but in the middle of the week, in the middle of the day it was sketchy; like a drug ghost town and there was a hustle waiting at every bend in the boardwalk. But we were on our gorgeous skates -- no flies on us, man! And we would skate directly to where the other skaters danced all day long. They may have been jobless and homeless -- who the hell knew -- but there they were, every day dancing in a line, doing a Quad-Wheel Pre Electric Slide and funky figure 8's. They all wore battered black skates and none of the great skaters tied their laces and I felt very pristine in my choked up fresh whites and the dumb pin-wheels which came off after my first skating trip to Venice. Dork! We'd switch from side to side on stoppers to Jam On It and Atomic Dog and ogle Mad Dog who was like a dark Michaelangelo's David, but buffer. Mad Dog only wore tight black jeans and a hat on backward and most of the time he'd play chess on the side lines (with skates on of course) but when he got up to dance, we'd spy him out with slacked jaws. Compared to Betsy, I was shy and she would yell out, "Hey, Mad Dog," and when he'd skate over, I'd lurk in the shadows of the sparks that flew between them. She'd feel his thigh through his black jeans and say things like, "GODDAMN." And he'd laugh in the baseist voice known to man. You'd stoop low while listening to him. Mad Dog had a young skater apprentice named Lonny who was so fine I couldn't swallow while watching him. He was light-skinned and he'd twirl and twirl with no shirt and tiny silver running shorts that we were digging back then. Betsy and I never dared to get in the dance circle -- it was a sure-fire way to make an ass of yourself -- but the hours upon hours we spent down at Venice on our skates didn't seem like a minute wasted.
My family and I saw Roll Bounce this weekend which was a sweet flick about . . .skating in the summer of 1978. This obviously jolted my memories. All four of us talked during the entire movie, of course, as Maya asked a ton of questions and Husband and I reminisced ,y'know, during the movie, about the great soundtrack and the days of roller rinks and Venice Beach.
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