And the answer is... (Rollerskating)

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Q: What is the name of that chain of stores??
A: Thornton Melon's TALL AND FAT. (Eric being the winner!)
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I bet you are all asking yourself why this is all that important. Let me digress...
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On Saturday we (the whole family) got together to celebrate Ben's 19th Birthday. Recently Ben has been spending his Saturday Nights at
Roller Garden in St. Louis Park. He particularly enjoys the Saturday Night "Contemporary Christian Music Skate", and has made some good friends from school, Karate, and Skating. When we asked him what he wanted to do for his birthday on Saturday night, he told us he wanted the whole family to go skating at Roller Garden with him, so - we did.
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Back in the EARLY 80's -
Nativity of Mary (my Elementary / Jr High School) used to book a night or two every school year at Saint's Roller Rink. I loved going and always attended the Roller Skating Parties. At least through eight grade that is...
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I have not been on a pair of roller skates since 1982 or 1983, nor have I EVER donned a pair of roller blades. It has EASILY been 23 years since I last got up on a pair of skates... Since Michele's ankle is bad, that left "dear 'ol dad" to play the part of loving father and be out skating with the kids.
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Let me share a few "Father-of-Five" observations I made...
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Observation #1 - I surprised myself. Having not been on a pair of skates in over 20 years, I was a bit... apprehensive... about my ability to keep myself up on skates, let alone try and keep a 6 year old daughter (and her first time on skates) up as well.
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My first few steps on the skates affirmed my worst fears of having "forgotten" how to skate. I was on a carpeted area, so I was hopeful that when I finally flailed my way out to the skate floor, things would be better. The first few steps out on the skate floor were as bad as they were on the carpeted floor, and I was not only fighting to keep myself upright, but I had Rebecca dragging me down as well. I was the sinking ship and it was going down fast! (Much like the Titanic).
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Well, in keeping with the spirit of being the good father that I pretend to be, I stayed with Rebecca, providing her the illusion that I knew what I was doing, and would keep her safe. The first time around the rink involved many falls for Rebecca, and a lot of "wall grabbing", "arm flailing", and stumbling by yours truly (although I did not actuall "fall" (on my arss) once). After making it one whole revolution around the rink we pulled up in front of Michele (who was at the table with Melissa), and snapped a few pictures.
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After our "photo op" we went around one more time together. I began feeling a bit more confident with being back up on wheels. After our second trip around the track I left Rebecca with mom and took off (independently) in search of my skating skills. By my second (independent) trip around the rink, I would reckon that I had about 85% of my skating skills back, and spent better part of the rest of the evening holding Rebecca's hand and moving her further and further away from creeping around the outer wall. By the end of the night she was much better with balance, but still had no "self propulsion" abilities. Overall, not bad for her first time out!
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Observation #2 - (Here is where the movie trivia ties in...) As a (self proclaimed) "potential customer" of Mr. Melon's "Tall and Fat" stores, I can tell you that a lumbering mountain of a man like me with "rusty" (at best) skating skills has NO RIGHT being on a skate floor.
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The night started out with a "younger crowd". I would say most of the skaters were 14 and under (and many of them were about 6 years old). After my two initial "independent - ability seeking" trips around the rink I pulled back up to where Michele was sitting. I mentioned to her that I am fearful of two things. First - If I fell down, I was coming down a lot further, a lot harder, and with a lot more bulk than the last time I fell on skates. This relates to my second concern - God help any of these younger (and much smaller) children that would be in my "fallout zone". Honestly, I think I could crush a small child if I fell on one...
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As the night progressed the crowd got older and older. By the "peak" of the night - the crowd was evenly mixed between adults and children. Most of the "crush-able" children had already left or were pooped out and sitting on the sidelines. This made me less worried that (as a (self proclaimed) "Tall and Fat" customer) I would permanently damage any young children.
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Observation #3 - Not much has changed in the atmosphere of these roller rinks in 20+ years. The oval layout, the old coin-op machines - vintage video games - and air hockey table, the cheap swede rental skates, the overpriced snack bar, the long line at the ONE drinking fountain - all these things (and many more) create an ambience that instantly took me back. It took me back to the days of late 1970's and early 1980's. The days of music from bands like The Bee Gees, Fleetwood Mac, Boston, Journey, etc. (Even though they were not playing any of this music Saturday night, I could hear it playing (like the voices I hear) in my head... )
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Along with the music, the rink took me back to my old friends. Friends I played Atari 2600 and Dungeons & Dragons with - friends I played four-square with at recess, went to birthday parties for, and talked about last night's "Dr. Who" episode with. And the same friends who tried to surpass each other as the ultimate Star Wars Fan.
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Here's another one... Who remembers the "Snowball"?
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The Snowball is a "couples skate" for "pre-dating" school age kids where you get to skate hand in hand (in public) with a member of the opposite sex. At that tender age (around 12 or 14 years old), the time spent skating together during the "Snowball" was the equivalent of a date. When the "Snowball" starts, all the guys line up on one side of the rink, all the girls line up on the other. When the DJ shouts the word ("Snowball") you can leave the wall in hopes that special someone you want to skate with is standing on their side of the rink -or- you stand along the wall waiting for that "someone special" to pick you to skate with -or- if you were already skating with someone it was time to change partners (either picking someone new from the skate floor or someone along the wall to skate with.) Then, there were always those "special couples" who ignored the rules and just kept skating together - signifying their "exclusivity".
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The following day was filled with talk of who skated with whom, and what did that mean. For the group of unpopular kids like myself (who knew NO ONE was going to choose us to skate, and would get turned down if we asked someone to skate with us), the "Snowball" was a chance to "rest", while we watched the girl we wanted to skate with as she skated with someone else. For us, the next day was NOT filled with talk of who skated with who or why - The next day was filled with talk of Star Wars, Dungeons & Dragons, and Dr. Who! (And that was far better anyway!)
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There was one time (known as the "skating incident") I was chosen by one of the most popular (and in my mind) prettiest 5th graders in my class. I had a HUGE crush on her. That memory (to this day) still embarrasses me when I think about it... But that is a whole post in itself. Just know that for many years afterwards when I thought about it I would sit in a chair with my arms crossed - rocking back and forth mumbling to myself (grin)....

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Actually the girl in question and I ended up graduating High School together, and we were each other's Junior Prom dates (as friends)... At our 5 year High School Reunion, we sat down, had drinks together and talked about old times (including the infamous "skating incident").
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Wow, I can ramble... Back to the topic at hand...
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Final Observation: The Roller Skating night was a total blast for everyone involved, and all present had a great time...

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Even the "Tall and Fat" (wink)!
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D.

























1 comment:

  1. Um, after reading Observation #2, all of our co-workers think I just gave birth.

    ReplyDelete

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