Warriors, Come Out to Play

Photo by James BunoanI was having, how do you say, a snit.

I wanted to go to the Russian Culture Expoon the Queen Mary. Boyfriend did not.

"Why don't you just go?" he asks.

"Because I don't want to be alone with a bunch of scary Russian men who're all, 'Hello, I'm Russian,'" I answer.

He would go if I wanted to. If I really, really wanted to, he would go. If I really wanted to.

"What would you like to do tonight?" I ask solicitously, keeping my patience.

"Anything," he says.

"Like what?" I ask.

"Anything you want," he says.

I don't remind him that he clearly doesn't want to do anything I want, since he clearly doesn't want to go to the Russian Culture Expo on the Queen Mary.

"I don't want to go anywhere," I spit. "I just want to stay home!" I put on my pajamas, grab my Harry Potter and seethe on the bed. It is 9 o'clock on a Saturday night.

So what does he do? He sits down at the computer in the other room and doesn't pay one lick of attention to the fact that I am seething in my pajamas at 9 o'clock on a Saturday night. Tap-tap-click, I hear. Great.


"Okay," he says, finally showing his face. "There aren't any square dances this week, but the roller rink has an adult session tonight. Would you like to go roller skating with me?"

"You looked up square dances?" I ask.

"Yeah, but there aren't any this week," he answers.

"You looked up square dances for me?"

I am a melty pile of puppy love.

By the time we get to the Holiday roller rink in Orange, I am furious. The night is warm and lovely, boyfriend is kind and quiet, and I have thrown away the cigarettes he caught me with after a week of abstaining strong and tall. Now I am whiny and kvetchy. I'm not a good roller skater. I don't know how. I'm not coordinated and I'm gonna fall.

We get inside. I pout.

We put our skates on. I sulk.

We glide out onto the gorgeous wood floor—it looks like rich Hawaiian koa—scarred with decades of burns and pits and a few buckling deathtraps. I am mortified—I don't know how to unlock my knees, and I'm fucking fat!

Look how fucking fat I am!

And he grabs my hand and it's magic, and I shriek, and it's scary, and we go slow and retarded. Whenever our hands get sweaty I laugh and push him away and then move my arms in big, giant circles, trying to keep my balance by doing imaginary retarded aerobics as I skate. Whoosh, we go fast, like on Thunder Mountain—who knew it was only 28 miles an hour? It only takes 20 minutes to unclench my knees. This is fun!

There are half a dozen 18-year-old hotties—white girls who manage to be both skinny and have big, J. Lo-style bubble butts. Since when can white girls grow butts like that? They are there for Melinda's birthday, we know, because the DJ keeps announcing it and there are fewer than 30 people here all together. Two of them look like twins, one in a white tank and her spitting image in black. The good twin, who's gorgeous, smiles when we make accidental eye contact. How sweet, she smiled at the old fat lady in her fat pants! The evil twin keeps dancing sexy while she skates. Often, she bends over, busting slightly Hessian rock star moves and throwing the devil horns. She reminds me of Steven Tyler. Oh, I hate her so, me and my graceless knock-knees.

Knock-knees, by the way, make you look even fucking fatter, you disgusting fucking blob.

And then it's wonderful again, and I am complaining about the girls making me feel old as if I'm Sandra Tsing Loh carrying on about her crow's feet, and boyfriend is perfect and does not look at them except to make fun. And there are boys line-dancing on their skates, skating backward, fast, in a perfect row in perfect rhythm, and boyfriend after many, many loops around the rink manages to hop backward and make some faces, and he acts like he isn't proud and that this is all gay, but you don't see him not skating backward!

He does dancey moves too, again with the I'm-kidding face, the same one I put on when I bend my fat ass over and throw the devil horns and say, "Wait, wait! Who am I?" and he says, "Steven Tyler?" and I say, confused, "Did you say 'Jimmy Carter'?" and he says, "Wait, do it again," and I do it again and he says, "George McGovern?" and we laugh because we are hilarious.

And now we're going faster. We start passing people sometimes, the people like us who aren't good at this. The hot teens pass us many times, and I'm sick with hate and envy at their easy sluttiness and my matronly hair. They look like Hilton Sisters. The ref-shirted DJ takes a break from the booth and dance-skates, suave and rhythmic. A slight, Kris Kristofferson-haired fortysomething in an open shirt dance-skates, suave and rhythmic. A tight brunette with "Orange County" across her huge bosoms dance-skates, suave and rhythmic. Some folks with a whiff of the trailer about them cruise through, graceful and fluid like they probably are nowhere else. Life is good here, at the Holiday. The good twin hangs out with someone who looks like someone's mom. The evil twin bends over. Off in a corner of the floor, the tattooed, built young gangsta in the wife-beater and baggy pants (one of the line dancers, or "flea hoppers"), sits, pensive, chin on fist, like The Thinker. J. Lo comes over the speakers. The young man nods, still contemplating, before his head, unbidden, does the Night at the Roxbury bop.

Every time I look at the evil twin I lose my burgeoning rhythm and gauchely almost fall. I envy everyone's ease. "Yeah, but they're all regulars!" boyfriend says. "They're all skating dorks." So what? What exactly is wrong with being a skating dork? I want to come back again and again and get good at this, like the trailer folk. "(You Spin Me) Right Round" comes on, and there's a nasty spill between one of the speed skaters and a friend of the hotties. Their friends all crowd around, for minutes, and the DJ shuts the music down. We cackle and whisper; they were all hopped up on the '80s music! We imitate angry parents suing Metallica. The next time an '80s song comes on, we look at each other fearfully. Nobody seems to crash into anyone else during the hip-hop.

The mural in the snack bar advises, "Let's Party!" Some little kids watch, patient, even though they're not allowed on the floor. But then Duran Duranstart up with "Rio" and I glide around feeling like a sexy junior high school girl who's all good at skating and stuff until I get a look at the evil twin's ass, which is sticking up in the air because she's bent over again, and I lose my mojo and almost fall. They make us skate counterclockwise then. It's unnatural!

We are gleefully in love and happy. At about 11:15, our feets hurting, we call it a night and happily bop out to the parking lot. By the time we get home 10 minutes later, I am furious and won't get out of the car.

I'm smoking right now, just to get this column finished, but then I'm throwing them away.

You know. Like a bad habit.




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