Rolling along the path to romance

As a human being, I of course rejoiced in the exit of Donald Trump from the world stage.

It was for the same reason I rejoiced when Darth Vader threw the Emperor down the scary, deadly special effect conveniently located in the Emperor’s chambers, at the end of Return of the Jedi.1

That reason is that, just as you didn’t want a crazy evil wizard bent on dominating the galaxy at the helm of the Death Star mark 2, you didn’t want a crazy, evil anthropomorphised Orange, who could neither spell Canada nor find it on a map, at the helm of America’s nuclear arsenal.

However, as a humour writer (seriously) I do miss him, because he was an endless source of material and a universally acceptable target, and that would be good right now because nothing is funny anymore.

Pretty much anything said or written is scrutinised by the sorts of people who get offended by, well, everything, to see if there is a way it can be taken as offensive. If there is, the author/speaker is shouted down and the offended people begin to build a Wicker Man.2

So I have decided to talk about people unintentionally hurting themselves, because there are few things funnier than someone falling flat on their face when trying to look cool and it offends nobody but the victim – which leads me to today’s topic, roller-skating.

Looked at objectively, it is hard to understand how this ever became a thing. The idea of strapping wheels to one’s feet – which without this modification, do a wonderful job of sticking directly to the ground and allowing one to stand upright without any risk of fracturing one’s coccyx3 – should be one which did not occur to anybody. Evolution did not provide humans with wheels on their feet, and one look at humanity’s general driving record shows you why.

Now, you are probably thinking that having identified the obvious drawbacks to roller-skating, I should have been clever enough simply to avoid it (actually, if you have the maturity level of most of my readers, you are probably still giggling over the word ‘coccyx’). The vital information you need to understand is that when I got into skating I was a teenager, thus possessed of all the critical thinking skills of potato salad, and also there were girls there.

That was really the big attraction, because skating in and of itself – even for those who can do it well – is not exactly bungee-jumping,4 excitement-wise. It involves skating around in a circle for a while, and then – just to shake things up – turning around and skating in the other direction.

At least that is what other people did. The direction I mostly travelled in was down, which is how I know what a coccyx is, and about the possibility of fracturing it. Luckily it wasn’t me who managed that, because I quickly and rather skilfully mastered the vital skating techniques of, (a) coolly leaning against the side of the rink as opposed to actually skating, and (b) falling forwards when technique (a) failed.

A mate of mine did manage to fracture his coccyx, which was a bit embarrassing for him when he returned to school. Luckily we, as his friends, rose to the occasion and showed our maturity by being openly supportive (“don’t worry mate, at least you had a crack! Hahaha!”).

Eventually I got good enough to participate without hurting myself or anyone else, although I always stayed out of what was known as the ‘speed skate’. This was the chance for the really good skaters – the guys (mostly they were guys) who had so little life that they basically lived at the rink, and whose use of the Space Invaders machine and excessive consumption of Coca-Cola likely constituted the entire profit of the place – to strut their stuff.

Mostly, their stuff was to combine travelling at speeds usually only achieved by jumping out of a plane with the intellectual capacity of sand, which lead to easily the most entertaining part of skating: near-lethal, multi-skater crashes, followed by completely non-lethal multi-skater fights.

Actually, they were really only attempted fights. If you have never seen two guys with a combined IQ of about 8½ try to fight while wearing roller-skates, you should. It looks a lot like the old Star Trek shows when the ship was under attack and the crew lurched from side to side, hopefully in the direction the camera was being tilted.5 Arms flail, bodies fly back and forth, and nobody comes within cooee of being hit. It would be great reality TV, so if anybody from Netflix happens to be reading, call me.

What I did quickly learn, however, is that the girls paid no attention whatsoever; turns out being good at skating was not the path to romance.6 I suspect that the girls, having seen what happens in the speed-skate, had determined that speed-skaters had too short an expected lifespan to be in a relationship.

This allowed me to return to more traditional ways of failing to impress girls by hurting myself, such as sport and BMX riding. I eventually met my first girlfriend at a school dance, which is clearly an endorsement of my dance skills (or a condemnation of her eyesight).

I realise I have been a bit hard on skating and skaters here, so I should acknowledge that it can be a fun activity and that it does contribute significantly to our economy. Mostly in the fields of orthopaedic surgery and physiotherapy, but still…

© Shane Budden 2021


Footnotes
1 If you are unfamiliar with this movie, shame on you.
2 Another movie you should know – the original of course, and not – for obvious reasons – the Nicholas Cage remake.
3 Calm down and look it up, it doesn’t mean what you think it does.
4 Another counter-evolutionary activity, although it was invented by Kiwis so its existence easier to understand.
5 If you haven’t seen the original Star Trek, I give up.
6 Duh.

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