Earlier this month, I was typing something pertaining to kids’ Christmas wish lists, when I realized I had no idea what some of the terms even meant.
This happens every year, especially as I get older and out of touch with what kids want.
Over the years, while typing these lists, I’ve come across things called “WWE2K154PS3” and “Frozen dress Anna.” There has been “monster high anything” and “goosebumps deluxe.”
I guess I just came from a simpler time.
I started to reflect on one of my favorite gifts I ever got as a kid.
I recalled the wind in my hair and the sound of Hall and Oates playing in the background as I sailed across the new cement in the folks’ garage.
I was wearing a T-shirt with Shaun Cassidy’s face prominently covering the front and polyester shorts (the kind that came to little V-cuts on the side, like the ones worn on “Charlie’s Angels”).
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And on my feet were the most important gifts ever to be bestowed upon me – my beautiful, blue roller skates. They had white stripes (just like the corresponding tennis shoes that were all the rage) and they fit like they were the reason God gave us feet in the first place.
We had four wheels back in the day – the young ones tell me those dinosaur styles are now called “roller derby skates,” as compared to the rollerblades they grew up on.
I don’t care what they were or are classified as – I called them heaven.
I just remember rare occasions of being alone, all alone, with just Hall and Oates’ evolving hits and an entire album of Donna Summers’ disco music.
I pretended I was someone famous and dangerously talented. I tried tricks that sometimes worked . . . most of them didn’t because they would end in catastrophic falls after hitting a stray piece of gravel.
But whether I skinned my knees or twisted my ankles, roller skating in that garage was the greatest joy.
Of course, I would have to back the old conversion van out of the garage first. For whatever reason, my mother trusted me to do that, despite my age . . . warning that if I wrecked it, there would be hell to pay. But the few minutes of stress to get that dang thing moved was worth the next hour of skating bliss.
So was all the sweeping . . . I didn’t care that I would need to get a broom and clean off the surface first. That task probably took longer than the actual skating, but it didn’t matter.
Sometimes I’d leave the van key turned on, so I could use the radio for my background music. And after I got in trouble for running down the battery, I found it wasn’t that hard to take my little record player outside where the 45 and 72 vinyls would get their play.
As I flew across the cement, I awkwardly mimicked beautiful women, despite my out-of-control home perm that smelled as bad as it looked.
I was invincible – until something would break on a skate. But it seemed like the folks were able to fix it, each and every time, because they knew how much I loved those dang things. WD-40 and duct tape went a long way.
Even as my feet grew and my toes became more cramped as the time went on, I refused to let them go. I prayed for my feet to stop getting larger, so we would never have to part ways.
The scuff marks became more prominent – to the point I started wearing literal holes into those skates. The wheels started to show road scars and sometimes they didn’t rotate in quite the way I wanted.
But I pushed forward, with Hall and Oates music as my driving force and an imagination bigger and more vivid than anything the digital world can create today.
As much as I can remember the glory days on those skates, I can’t remember exactly what happened to them. I truly don’t remember the day we said good-bye. Did a wheel fall off? Did the needle break on my record player? Did I scratch my Hall and Oates’ Greatest Hits? Did the cement get too rough for a leisurely glide? Did I grow out of my Shaun Cassidy T-shirt . . . and consequently also the skates themselves?
Apparently, that recollection is too hard to bear . . . and my psyche has prohibited me from recalling the pain of growing up and moving on.
Fortunately, however, I can still remember how it felt to be a kid, relishing the iconic music of that era and feeling free to just be me.
I don’t know if kids today get the same kind of joy out of their “WWE2K154PS3s” – heck, I don’t even know what that is, so I can’t judge.
All I know is a simple gift gave me hours of happiness and moments to cherish.
Oh the days . . . it was just Hall and Oates, blue skates and me.