Rolling To A Stop

Posted: Monday, October 27, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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“It’s just too hard to skate with you, Doug,  you’re too short..sorry.”
I still remember the sting  of those words from Bethany Anundson..a girl from our  neighborhood in Volga who was a year ahead of me in school.  She was also an excellent roller skater and had agreed to help teach me the basics at the Lake  Campbell Roller Rink when I was about eight.
I don’t know if  it’s possible for someone to actually “wish” themselves taller but soon after the rejection from Bethany, I started growing like a Russian thistle. I became a much better skater too..thanks  to weekly outings at the rink by the lake.
Within a couple years I had my own black shoe skates  complete with red pom poms, I had become very comfortable on wheels..often skating at high speeds and backwards…plus Bethany was now a full foot shorter than me.
When  my own daughters were old enough to go roller skating..I would often join them. They were pretty impressed at the old man’s skating prowess and weren’t too embarrassed when the three of us would hold hands and glide around together.
Many years later when my first granddaughter, Tara, talked me onto the floor during  a skating party at Carousel, I even impressed myself at still managing to skate forward and reverse while avoiding embarrassing falls
Fast forward to Sunday in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Granddaughter, Zoey is having  a skating party for her 7th birthday.
Could old grandpa, 18 years older and 50 pounds heavier, pull it off again? Should I even try? The organ music that used to inspire me to long strides and graceful turns, has been replaced by hip hop and a D.J. The floor, once made of maple which could cushion a fall somewhat, is now cold concrete painted gray and capable of causing colossal concussions.  
It’s like riding a bicycle I said out loud as if to convince myself and went to rent a pair of  size 11’s.
Another granddaughter, Allison looked hopeful but concerned. Linda was downright worried and pleaded with me to reconsider.
I guess I knew I was in trouble when the size 11’s went on a little tight.  Then I couldn’t stand up without help. Everything seemed foreign.
Oh,  come on, I thought, just put one foot in front of the other..you’ll remember. It’ll all come back.
With Allison’s help, I managed to shuffle  onto the cement but with my first stride, the wheels slipped out from under me. I stood there flailing my arms for a split second before collapsing like cheap lawn chair.
Allison just stood there with her mouth open..then made an attempt to help me back into a vertical position but it was useless. Instead, I managed to crawl over to the railing, passed laughing relatives and to the table where, to Linda’s great relief,  I began unlacing the skates having traveled a total of  maybe 15  feet.
It’s hard to face the reality that a skill in which I had once taken such pride, is lost and gone forever and that I’ll likely never roller skate again….unless, perhaps, Bethany Anundson is still out there and would be willing to give me another shot.

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