I have a dark secret for which I am slowly building the courage to shed light on. I am trying to become a skateboarder.
It fulfills a need of mine for physical activity – a need which is limited by my shyness. I ought to be active – I know that – especially working a desk job where the only included cardio is plugging in my headphones (and just wait until I upgrade to a wireless set… soon I can be motionless in the purest sense). But I’m not really the kind of guy that can roll up to any random basketball court, slip on a “Gold’s Gym” tank top, and grunt “Yo! Pass the rock.” Likewise, I won’t be parking at a health club to get my pump on in front of a bunch of sweaty strangers. On a more serious level, I’m a bit of an introvert, so there are not a lot of options for physical activity. Off the top of the dome, I can think of skateboarding, bowling, carnival games, and running from the government.
Figure 1: Jason Bourne is the perfect example of how you can be physically active without any meaningful interpersonal interaction - if you do not count throwing passports and pieces of glass at people
I’ve spent my first few months crawling parking lots and baseball dugouts, dipping out when someone with a dog walks by for shame that a sociological other will externalize my private hobby before I am ready too. I’ll take the board out into daylight when I’m ready, thank you.
I’m typically modest, but it didn’t take me long to master every obstacle offered by the endless flat space of a Target parking lot. I was ready to graduate to the skate park.
Figure 2: It is clean now, but in time it will be covered in my blood.
This is the Olympic skate park in Schaumburg. The park is not lit, so I usually go during the narrow time frame between kids going home for dinner and the nearby softball field finally shutting their lights off for the night. Sometimes I would have to stall if there were people that hung around. I just played Minion Rush on my phone until I got the place to myself.
Tonight, I was running out of time. There were two stragglers, and from a distance I could tell they were pretty good. I made a decision. At least they were hucking on the side of the park opposite to my ledge. See, the park is pretty big, but I usually just hang out by a little stumpy ledge. There, I practice the same line. I jump on the board, kick three times, then try to ollie up on the ledge. Most times I lose my board and slam my head on the pavement. Sometimes, I make it up, but panic as the ledge shortly drops off again. This is when I proceed to lose my board and slam on the pavement – again. Sometimes, when I am really on fire, I can wipe out before even reaching the ledge.
For twenty minutes, we stayed out of each other’s way. But on one attempt, he board flung out from my feet. I squealed as the deck sailed into another skater. He scooped up my board and walked slowly over to me.
If I had a can of mace, I would have uncapped it. If I had brass knuckles, I would probably be too embarrassed to do anything with them. The fella handed me my board and asked, “So are you new at skating.”
Yes. I am so new at skating. This helmet also doesn’t fit me, and I ordered everything you see here on Amazon.
“Let me show you what you are doing wrong.”
The dude jumped on his board and demonstrated a crystalline ollie. After a few more pointers, we got to talking. Learning they were only sixteen made me embarrassed at how self-conscious I was around them. The guys, Trevell and Tony, told me not to worry – that no one who skates at the Olympic is a huge tool to newbies. They were nice kids, and, thanks to my pleasant experience, I am going to keep at it. I promise to post a GIF of me jumping onto that eight inch ledge once I nail it.
Thanks, you guys. And if you are reading, Trevell, I stand by my offer. Bring your chemistry homework next time, and I will show you how I can really shred.