The Fieldstone Review

Roller Boogie [Wheelies Roller Rink, 1982]

I park Fernandomy '67 Ford
Falcon Station Wagon (black
where it's not rusted)
in the lot next to London Bunny, Susan's '78 Nova
the place is full of muscles and beater wagons
idling revving cars full of teenagers
smoking drinking beer
I walk right past the lineup at the door
skates tossed over my shoulder
call Hi Scott! over everyone's heads
he buzzes me in through the lobby doors
I don't have to pay I work here

(I used to work concession but not anymore
everybody starts back there up to your neck
in burnt butter and spilled pop syrup
or worse spraying
that deodorant shit into sweaty rental skates
I like to dry-mop after the skaters have left
and sometimes Scott will let me change the record
now that I'm eighteen my favourite job is
Skate Cop I have a whistle
I blow when someone cuts across the rink or speed
-skates on kid's skate you could get hurt or run into
a kid if you start going the wrong direction just to be an
asshole you get whistled and there's no food on the rink
if something spills you can trip on that)

I'm not working tonight
tonight I'm here to skate
my hair is curled and fragranced
with White Shoulders
my Beatlemania T-shirt tight over my breasts
Susan's already out there she sees me
from the rink and waves
Keith and Darren are playing foosball
near the skate rental booth

I never wore rentals bought my own
skates before I ever set foot on the rink
taught myself to skate backwards
in our big unfinished basement
avoided the drains where concrete dipped
mom's stocking feet overhead creaking on boards
from living room to kitchen
technopop on my cheap cassette player
turned up scratchy and distorted

wearing rentals is like wearing
tape on your glasses
the fuzziest boot covers in the world can't hide
dirty orange rental wheels
the feel of other people's sweat
moving into your socks

Scott spins Celebration by Kool and the Gang
Susan flirts with Chris
spins and skates backwards
constantly touching her
hair to keep it out of her eyes

I wave at Brian and Jackie sitting in the hard
orange booths along the edge of the rink
sipping Coke through straws
eating two-day-old popcorn
wrinkled wieners
Scott glides out of the office
his whistle on a chain around his neck
he's nearly two feet taller than me
his skates on and me still in shoes

see you for slow skate he says
that's his supper break
Chris will take over changing
the records so Scott can dance with me
I ask for Cool Change by Little River Band
and the Eagles I Can't Tell You Why
you got it he kisses the top of my head
skates to the DJ booth

Living on Video by Trans-X pumps
electronic from speakers
and on the rink
a parade of bell-bottoms widened
extra denim pieces added head after head of waving
feathered hair home perms
blonde highlights blue
sparkle eye shadow long chains on the boys
Nazareth T-shirts polyester and shoulder pads

I throw my denim jacket and Nikes into a locker
pin the key to the back pocket
of my brand-new Fancy Ass jeans
carry my skates to a red carpeted bench
breeze from my friends' revolutions
stirs my hair at the rinkside

my skates are white Sure-Grip high-tops
plate model Century Super X5L
with Precision Bearing wheels
they've got split leather linings, adjustable
trucks, and axles that won't lose it
when they're cranked wide open
I keep the axles oiled,
my toe stops tight, and my trucks
loose for better cornering
first thing I did was replace the factory Sure-Grip
wheels with top of the line All-American Dreams
those are the hottest wheels for 1982
it was worth the extra bucks I spent
for the looks I get from the guys
envious glares from girls
lots of them have All-American Plus
they're an okay wheel but
a solid step down from the Dreams
give you smooth ride and speed

I don't wear my
boot covers I like the beat-up look
of my skates the laces
have made black grooves in the leather
scuffs and wrinkles show I'm serious
not afraid to enter the speed skate contest
or dance with Chris, the best waltzer at the rink

I'd like to be skating with Darren I want the rough
look of my skates to match his
I glide to the can
my jeans are too new but otherwise
I'm looking good
my hair is perfect
straight at the back feathered sides
put on some Chocolate Lip Smackers
tuck the tube into my back pocket

I wait for Susan to come around
take two spins with her while I look for Darren
blue plastic floor worn under our wheels
red brick and dark orange walls
the disco ball spinning under a bank
of speakers at the centre

Katie is crying in the back corner again
Barb holding her shoulders
Darren's an asshole, Katie
you should break up with him
she won't do it
they've been having the same conversation
every night for three weeks
Katie and Darren fight a lot
but they always make up

as I round the next corner I see
Darren at the DJ booth talking to Scott
who's just put on Rapture by Blondie
Darren's been outside for a du Maurier
when I ride up next to him
he smells of tobacco and cool rain

I spin backwards, catch his eye,
and tilt my head at him
he joins me and we dance to the hot sounds
chatting about nothing
his new wheels I don't watch behind me
pull my hair behind my ears
he guides me occasionally
around slow skaters touching the hip
of my jeans to shift me over