Disco Balls and Donkey Kong

The boy got to go to the local roller rink this morning with his classmates, as part of a school-sponsored treat. He took his inline skates, he wore good socks, and he had a blast.

The unfortunate thought here is that the poor little man gets precious little time at the local roller rink. In fact, he gets to go there once a year. In December. With his class. Because the whole school goes then. And because I would be labeled as The Worst Mother of the Year if I didn’t let him go. (I am also running for The Mother Who Types the Most Sentence Fragments award.)

And, before he heads off to the skating rink every December, the boy is told not to touch anything, not to use the drinking fountain, and, for goodness’ sakes, not to rent a pair of skates and actually put his feet into them, and to just wear his very own Rollerblades.

I am not a germ freak. In fact, I’m the exact opposite of a germ freak, as I’ve always been the mama who encouraged my boy to climb, just climb! Climb high into the tunnels in McDonald’s Play Land, and wave to Mama from the top, and only eat a couple of the fries that you find in there!

But our local roller rink is not famous for passing OSHA-approved health and standard recommendations, and I’m not sure that the carpet in there has had a date with the Hoover since 1992. And seriously? I think that more dust from the moon has been in the local roller rink than Clorox.

And the two sofas that sit outside in the parking lot? The ones that have been outside in the snow, the sleet, the rain, the drizzle, the drip, the sunshine, and the frost? The two sofas which have been outside, day in and day out, for over three years now? Yes, those sofas! I can only imagine the mildew that grows in them and the bug population that probably thrives in their crevices, and I cringe every single time we drive by the local roller rink and Hubs comments, “We should totally bring one of those sofas home for the family room.”

Hubs says this almost every time we drive by. Like the gummi bear joke, it was funny the first time, but it sort of loses something when you’ve heard it forty-nineteen-thousand-and twenty-three-eleven times. (Which is, you know, quite a lot of times.)

The boy has decided that he has a passion for skating at the roller rink, because he does not notice that the toilets do not sparkle with Mr. Clean disinfectant, nor does he notice that the walls have black grime on them. He’s simply happy to be there, skating circles around the floor, under the giant disco ball, with all of his friends around him, wobbling just as much on their skates as he is.

And truly, what kid wouldn’t be enthralled with that?

Way back in the day — like, even before that antique Lego set was manufactured in 1999 — we used to hang out at the exact same roller rink, only that was when it had just been built. It was absolutely THE place to be on Friday nights, and it was clean, and everyone begged and pleaded with their parents for a few extra dollars to buy hot dogs which had been rotating in the machine all evening, and a bag of cotton candy.

The cotton candy and the disco ball together were as close to perfection as we could get in the ’80s, but when the fellow at the microphone played the first few notes of Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock and Roll” and loudly announced, “This one’s a FAST skate,” things just got better, and the colors seemed that much brighter.

Naturally, we all skated out hearts out, in our Jordache jeans with the combs peeking out of our back pockets, and we made repeated trips into the bathroom, where we would evaluate our hair situations in the mirror, to determine whether the fast skate had generated enough wind to disturb what we’d worked so hard to plaster down with eight coats of Aqua Net before we left the house. No one ever actually COMBED her hair in the bathroom, because that was just asking for trouble, as the top layer of hairspray would be cracked, and then it was all just a natural disaster waiting to happen, and who could risk that when…

that boy was over in the arcade section, beating the posted high score in Donkey Kong?

Oh, girls, we all knew who he was! The boy in the OP T-shirt and the faded-out Levi’s, with his hair feathered “just-so,” and a half-eaten bag of cotton candy sitting there at the upright arcade machine with him. Yep. THAT boy!

And when he finally (FINALLY!) asked you to skate when the fellow at the microphone said, “This song is for couples only,” and then proceeded not to say a single word to you the entire time you skated in circles together to “Open Arms,” life was just about as perfect as it could get.

The roller rink and I go way back.

Hubs was a fan of the place, too, although he claims that he was seldom there to skate, and he never would have participated in the “couples only” skate time. He was there because of the over-priced pizza at the concession stand, and because he wanted to type his initials into the Galaxian game for all ten of the high scores, and because it was one of the few places where he could actually wear his roller skates all night long and be TALLER.

Hubs did say, though, that he had his own black skates, with black toe stops, and that he could skate backwards better than anyone who has ever tried out for the Roller Derby. Clearly, he was dreamy.

This evening, we asked the boy how skating went. Naturally, he loved it, except for the part when T. ran into him and knocked him down. He thinks she did it on purpose. Hubs asked the boy if he skated with any girls. His response was, “Well, yeah…all the girls in our class went. There were girls EVERYWHERE there, and I was skating while they were skating.”

Hubs said, “No! Did you skate with anyone special? You know, hold someone’s hand while you were skating?”

The boy wrinkled his nose and said, “That’s disgusting, Dad.”

Thank goodness that the boy feels this way, because I’ll probably be more inclined to let him start dating than to return to the local roller rink until next December, during the annual school-sponsored skating party.

The time at the roller rink today was good while it lasted for the boy.

Just like “couples only” skates used to be.

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