I’ll be the first to admit I have a bit of a past. Nothing too terrible, but I have admitted to being the worst non-criminal 13-year-old of all time. Today, however, I’d like to narrow the scope just a bit and hone in on what can only be described as a questionable period in my life: my rollerblade phase.
It started off innocently enough in 1993. Great year. The Minnesota North Stars relocated to Dallas, and hockey fever swept over Metroplex pre-teens like Mike Modano sweeping a hard Dallas 9 off her feet in Uptown. It was everywhere. Street hockey games broke out over night. I was Derian Hatcher sans mullet, size, and defensive prowess. Looking for an outlet for 9-year-old angst, I gravitated toward the rink like Manziel gravitates toward trendy Fort Worth brunch spots.
Fast forward 2 years and multiple Redbird Skateland roller hockey championships later. There I was with a full blown buttcut flowing out of the back of my JOFA helmet, bored with traditional sports and looking for another way to make my parents spend money and worry about my safety. Then, by the grace of God, I stumbled upon it. Much like the printing press changed history, 1996’s Fast Shoes VHS altered the course of my life. Arlo Eisenberg, Randy “Roadhouse” Spizer, Ryan freaking Jacklone — I wanted to be those guys. I was hooked.
It was the logical next step for a suburban punk entering puberty. Becoming obsessed with an “extreme sport” comprised of ne’er-do-wells rocking JNCOs was something that just had to happen. And I wasn’t alone. My best friend and future best man caught the blade bug, and together we unleashed a thrashing offensive on staircases and handrails all across the Metroplex. Sure, we dabbled with the skateboard, but boards and blades just don’t mix. Like oil and water, or Kevin Sumlin and highly touted quarterbacks, it just didn’t work. We were applauded by some and called “fruitbooters” by others. For us, the American dream was landing a 540 off a homemade ramp while 311 blared from the garage.
I’ve included the photo evidence below so you can fully wrap your head around this. That’s him on the left, and yes, that’s a KORN shirt.
Huge tees and corduroy shorts. That’s what it’s all about.
We were outlaws. On any given weekend you could find us at the high school rubbing down ledges and stairs with skate wax, which looking back on it, was trespassing at a minimum. But hey, that’s a risk you have to be willing to take if you wanna hit sick royales and backslides while your friend tries to snap pics with his pre-digital camera Nikon. The game is the game.
Eventually, though, the blade life took its toll. That life just wasn’t sustainable for me. Even as a clueless 13-year-old in Lee Pipes, I knew it wasn’t reasonable to have my old man drive me to a skate park 45 minutes away every weekend (Shoutout to Eisenbergs in Plano). I mean, maybe if I had chosen a legitimate hobby that I had a future in we could have had a nice Tiger and Earl Woods story, but support for my pseudo-bad boy lifestyle dwindled and so did the resources. They knew what path I was heading down. I had a “My Son Beat Up Your Student Of The Month” bumper sticker on my door for crying out loud. And I was an honor student. What kind of psycho was I becoming? I wanted it all. New K2 Fatty Pros, replacement grind plates, and those dope wheels that came in a fake Crayola box. You can only demand so much before cooler heads prevail.
Then it happened. One afternoon after building a highly questionable rail on a block of wood we found in a dumpster, it all came crashing down. As, I watched my best friend confidently approach our very poorly engineered monstrosity, I had no doubt in my mind that he was about to lay something sick down. The speed with which he approached our deathtrap was high, but I knew he could handle it.
I was wrong. Dead ass wrong. The grind he attempted, a “unity,” was a cross-legged slide requiring weight to be evenly distributed on the outside of the skates. I don’t know where he went wrong, but he ate it. Hard.
When he got up, he was holding his arm, most likely because a bone was sticking out of it. It was broken AF. I don’t think I immediately vomited, but I should have. And that was that. Sure, I tried to lone wolf my X-games lifestyle, but it just wasn’t the same. After what I had seen, there was no way I’d ever be able to approach a set of stairs on blades in the same way. I mean, I wasn’t that great to begin with, so completely losing my edge didn’t help. And about that time, my dad introduced me to golf which probably saved my life. Thanks, Dad.
My past is what it is. Sure, there were cringeworthy moments like when I dropped in on an 8 ft. vert ramp and fell on my face in front of some older babes with tattoos and cigarettes, but it’s made me a better person. Possibly. .
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