Skate footwear is not a crime

There are moments, even in my 36 year-old reading glasses-wearing IRA-investing, fiber-eating life when I look out of my office window at the skaters in the park across the street and am instantly transported.

I’m back there, in the parking lot near the P&C (because there weren’t skate parks and skateboarding was still a crime) pretending to write in my journal while Josh, my 10th grade crush, ollies three inches from my head, pretending he’s not trying to get my attention.

I’m all, “Cut it out.”

And he’s all, “Whatever. So, what bands are you into?”

And I go, “Black Flag,” which is a total lie but skaters don’t like Devo. Even The Cure is edging toward too soft and there’s no way I’m going to admit that I bought Cyndi Lauper’s latest. I chip at my black nail polish and do my best to look bored.

Josh is impressed, which he shows by flipping his long fin of bangs out of his eyes (the hunk of hair immediately fall back to obscure his vision) and shrugs, “Cool. Hey, hold my board a minute.”

And then do I do the thing that defines me in the world of 10th grade. I say, “No way. I’m not a skate Betty.” Because everyone knows that’s what Bettys do. They hold the boards. Holding a board (and it’s easy, now, as an adult, to make a lewd leap of logic) is a promise ring of sorts. Instant girlfriend-hood is bestowed. It’s the alterna-version of the letter jacket or the class ring. I’m bucking the system.

But that’s kind of my thing. I’m all in black, despite the warm summer weather — my only concession is that I’ve traded my lace-up boots for low top Vans. I wear them without socks, my ankles a pale swatch between canvas shoes and capri leggings. My faux-hawk is a rats’ nest of hairspray, my eyeliner running, Robert Smith-like, into raccoon smudges.

Josh tilts his head, presumably to see past his bangs while he takes it all in. Me. The non-Betty. Finally he smirks, goes, “Whatever. Wanna learn to ollie then?”

I shrug back, all unfazed. “Yeah, I guess.”

Sometimes I want that girl back. Her sass along with her imperviousness to heat and to the opinion of others. I like to think I had it figured out, back when I was 15. Maybe it was just the intrinsic cool of my shoes. And then I think, if it really was the shoes, I should buy new ones. After all, if a little sass can’t be charged, what’s the point of a full-time job and a very grownup line of credit?


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June 2008
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