Sunday, April 12, 2009

Skating Racists

My socks, they were striped.
And I had a frog balloon.
Then - skating racists.

I was in LA for an I Eat Pandas show last week.  It was also the week leading up to my birthday and, because I have a bunch of LA pals who couldn't be in NY for my party, I decided to have a roller skating birthday party - West Coast Style!  After a quick internet search, Eliza found World on Wheels on Venice Blvd. in LA and it was a GO.

My experience with roller skating is extensive and yet I haven't skated in years.  I used to be a pro.  And by pro I mean I had roller skating birthday parties in Farmington, NM as a kid.  I was actually really good!  I even beat the shortest boy in our class at a roller limbo contest.  And he was really short.  I haven't skated in years but I now own my own pair of pristine white skates with bubble gum pink wheels.  I guess what I'm trying to say is that I was really excited to skate.

Now here's how it went down, people.  We arrived promptly at 8pm, got our skates, Luci and Michael gave me a googlie-eyed frog balloon and we hit the rink.  The rink was down a short ramp, so the area where you got your skates and played air hockey was raised above it.  Those not brave enough to don the skates stood up there and watched.  But not us.  Not me and my awesome friends.  We don't watch the skate, we participate.

At first everyone was really helpful and awesome.  There was a chick in a pink sweatband and pig tails who was helping Sara Jo her first time around the rink.  And then I noticed two things - A) aside from my group of friends everyone on the rink was a great-to-excellent skater and B) a majority of the crowd was middle aged and black.  I noticed it and then thought about how skating was probably pretty big in the 70s and that's why everyone was so good.  I wanted to be that good again and so I started pushing myself to get better.  I mean, this was a birthday party and my friends were mostly hanging in the middle talking, but when I get something stuck in my mind I get kind of crazy about it.  So I pushed myself to go faster and, aside from a few little brushes with other speeding skaters, I was doing pretty well.

At one point I was skating on the outer lane and one of the really good skaters came over to me and told me that I was the fast lane and that I should skate closer to the island in the middle where people took breaks.  I moved closer to the middle, but I vowed to work my way up to at least skating as well as the people in the outer lane.

Eventually the lights turned down, the disco ball lit up and it was pure disco heaven.  I built my confidence level with each lap and eventually forgot I had been at all uneasy on skates.  It was awesome!  Around and around I rolled.  Humming along to the music and really just happy as could be.  One lap around I noticed Luci standing up near the air hockey table and where I'd tied my frog balloon.  I caught her eye and waved.  She waved back and just as I passed her I felt two hands on my back and I went down.  Hard.  I immediately looked behind me to find out who had fallen - assuming someone had grabbed me on their way down - but there was no one there.  I looked up at Luci and she was just turning her head toward me so I realized she hadn't seen anything.  I stood up against the wall and tried to regain my composure but I was starting to realize that I had been pushed and I was really shaken.  A woman skated up to me and said, "You need to get off the rink.  You need to get out of this lane" and then skated away.  I rolled over to the island and sat down - trying not to cry.  Eliza skated over and said that a woman had come up behind me and pushed me down.  I was shocked.  She pointed her out to me and the woman was probably about 50 years old and I had never seen nor made contact with her before that point in the night.  Unbelievable.

After realizing what had happened we decided to make our way off the rink since it was pretty clear we weren't wanted.  At this point the skaters had doubled and getting off the rink was an accident waiting to happen.  And what an accident it was.  My dear friend Claire, as she was carefully trying to make her way off the floor, was smashed into at full speed by a man skating backward.  Claire hit the floor, broke her elbow and needs surgery to fix it.  I know, right!?  WHAT THE FUCK.  Two guys helped her up but were grabbing her arm as she cried out in pain that she thought it was broken.  By the time she was off the floor she was in tears and couldn't feel her fingers.


Claire is a tough cookie.  I Skyped with her today and she looks great.  She's going to try and get the rink to cover her medical bills with liability insurance (she doesn't have health insurance), but if they don't (and if we can't sue the crap out of them) Eliza suggested a fundraiser to help raise money for her bills and I couldn't agree more.  Poor Claire!

For the rest of the night and the rest of the next day I could not help but think about that woman who pushed me.  It reminded me of the 3 girls who tormented me my Sophomore year of high school.  Just because they had heard a rumor and believed it.  I just don't understand something like that.  I'm angry/sad/insecure and I'm gonna take it out on you.  Maybe the roller incident wasn't a hate crime in the racial sense, but it sure felt like one.  You don't push a stranger down from behind if you've got love in your heart.  I'm pretty sure of that.  And I know that her comeuppance will be her own guilt eating away day after day until she dies, sad and alone surrounded by bags of her own feces, but it's hard to be ok with that.  I'm so fucking sick of assholes raining on your parade because you're happy.  Why does it matter to you if I'm a happy person?  Why?  I'll tell you why - because you're not.  Why don't you deal with that and leave the rest of us alone.

We all have a choice about how we act, feel or respond in any given situation no matter what we have had happen to us or are currently going through.

Just be nice to each other.  OK?



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