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THE KEY is the key to successful roller skating.
This is way back when…in 1949, when I am eight years old.
Without The Key there is no way to get those skates to stay on. The only roller skates I know about are the kind you clamp right onto your shoes—or your sandals.
Even back when, it is obvious that roller skates are the poor person’s substitute for ice skates, ice skating being way more sophisticated. But I observe that only people who live in cold-winter places get to ice skate. In the movies, ice skating looks so smooth and graceful and kind of high-falutin’. Everybody from the debonair Fred Astaire to the round-faced Sonja Henie ice skates.
They make it look so easy, so possible, you know.
Never having ice skated, I am puzzled about why skaters skate backwards so much of the time. It doesn’t make a particle of sense, since I never see runners running backwards or bicyclers bicycling backwards or scooter-riders riding backwards.
Of course, the exception to this is my Uncle Adron, who can ride a bicycle backwards—a feat that is fun to watch because it is absolutely meaningless and useless. For the rest of my life, it’s the pointless capers I’ll witness that will give me the most enjoyment.
ANYHOW, back to the subject of roller skating.
Roller skates are sexless in 1949. If you have a skate key and a pair of pliers, you can adjust anybody’s skates to any foot length or shoe width.
Now and then, one of the skates will fly off a shoe and endanger other skaters and passersby. The shame of the failed designated skate-adjuster is akin to the shame a parachute-packer might feel if a ‘chute doesn’t open on cue.
There are two kinds of skating that I know about. The most fun skating is done on the asphalt in front of our house. It is fun mainly because I can pretend to be the world’s greatest skater. There’s no-one around to testify otherwise.
The other kind of skating takes place at a skating rink, where there is lots more space…the downside being that I and my fellow amateur playmates are always outflanked by skaters who are more skilled!
But the fascinating part of this story is that some of us kids now know what it is like to walk in one-sixth Moon gravity, because that’s the way you feel after a couple of hours wearing those heavy metal skates. First, you strain to carry the unfamiliar Jovian weight and you move in slow, painful motion, as if gravity has doubled up on you. Later, you take them off and you’re suddenly raising your feet higher than normal with each step. In just a short period of time, your body deserts its normal rules of conduct and adjusts to newer laws of physics.
Moon walking and Jupiter walking and earthbound walking overlap in just one after-school afternoon, just like I read about in the astronomy chapter of my science book in class!
And talk about complicated—trying to skate holding hands with someone else takes all the skill and concentration I can muster. Forget that!
Another thing—at my age, my buttocks are—what—just about two feet off the ground, but when my rollered feet swoop out from under me, in a jiffy that hardwood floor or the rising asphalt whaps me on the rear like God’s big fly swatter.
Suddenly, the one-sixth Moon gravity transforms itself into a humongous magnet and makes me aware of the one consistent boss I will have for the rest of my life—Gravity!
So, what have I learned by skating that will carry me through to advanced age? Even at the age of eight, I know that: 1. Controlling The Key imparts a certain status; 2. Not everybody is destined to be a skilled athlete; 3. Science helps explain a lot of mysteries, such as how gravity works in different ways, how skates that fly up will surely drop down, how rear ends are good at breaking falls; 4. Things that happen in movies have little relation to what happens in everyday life; 5. You can have just as much fun imagining things as actually experiencing them—and usually more safely, too; 6. The Past is the safest place to live; 7. Doing things backwards or the opposite way is real entertaining on an otherwise eventless afternoon
© Jim Reed 2014 A.D.