I couldn’t leave before I saw him. He’s mysteriously shown up at every skate center I’ve ever been. No matter the city or the year. In the eighties, the nineties and today, 2016.
I looked towards the center of the crowded rink.
There he was.
Effortlessly gliding through and around the masses of Martin Luther King Day traffic. The recreational/professional middle-aged male skate city angel. So graceful. Quite mesmerizing.
His skates are his wings. Surely he never falls. He’s the master of his light-up skates. His mid-length hair sort of whips around in the Skate City breeze. Today, surprisingly enough, must not have been a shampoo day. He’s a natural. A frequent flyer. Perhaps he secretly loves the adoring gazes from the little eyes pulled up behind their “walkers” to watch his skate grooves to “Just Dance.” It’s gonna be alright. Just dance. Dance. Dance. Dance. Only he must be thinking to himself, “Just Skate. Skate. Skate.”
He could lead an instructional video of the crossover and backwards skate, if he wanted to. But he wouldn’t have time for that. Uh. Oh. Look out. Please don’t tear your ACL. If you were wondering if the seven clumsy kid pile-up on the east side of the rink would slow him down, think again. He will weave through that amateur traffic jam. He doesn’t have time to stop or rubber neck that scene. He’s got work to do. Afterall, it’s not a holiday for him. He’s headed to a meeting. He’s got some official skate city business to take care of. Smack dab in the center of the rink.
Look out, middle-aged dads trying to skate with a false sense of confidence in hopes of persuading your sweet, inexperienced child gripping onto that germ infested wall. Inching along. Hoping to make it out alive as the teen girls roll past. Don’t feel ashamed when Mr. Skate City Angel sweeps past you. He shifts his torso and branded that fancy footwork. The kind that puts NFL running backs to shame.
Don’t worry. He doesn’t see you. He’s staring off into the distance, at the concession stand? Nope. He’s not really here. He was but now he’s gone. A mere figment of your disco ball confused imagination. You better find something else to entertain you in this loud preteen casino. Go wait in line for an Iceee. Or there, look. On the circle carpet bench. Right behind you. The awkward teenage public displays of affection. Oh. It’s. Just. Too. Much. Groping. Yet, such a perfectly romantic setting.
Please come back, Mr. Skate City Angel. Although, I have to warn you. I think there’s a new breakdancing younger guy in town. Check the center circle. Yes. Your center circle. Did he just break his ankles? No. He’s alright. You nod in his direction. It may be the perfect time for a skate center show down.
And imagine that. It’s a packed house.
Just. Skate. Skate. Skate.