Blisters replaced calluses, while I rolled on. Bon Jovi swore that we’d make it, and we always did. Gliding around the circle, it was almost time to meet in the middle and find someone to hold. That awkward middle where farm town met hip hop, and CK One met, well, CK One. Our feet were tired from carrying the load, tan if you were unlucky, mid -cut and built for speed if you were not. Mine were somewhere in the middle. Dad’s old wheels gripped the wood.
I stopped. I hoped they were not bleeding. Ah, just another blister popped. It didn’t matter Dr. Feelgood would make me feel all right. Slipping on the Reebok pumps, I knew it was my night for Junior High romance. I must have impressed them. I pulled out all my tricks. I even had a ticket from the limbo. I could get her a pop. Her. Who could it be? I’ll figure it out in a bit. I needed to play some pinball. The Adams Family just showed up, and I had a pocket full of quarters.
When I finally marched to the center, all sorts of wiggling was in progress. Some looked like they knew what they were doing. Some just stood there laughing and pointing and chasing the flashing lights with their eyes. I was average, I think. Whatever I was then was just the primer for homecoming, prom, and adventures at Poppa Woody’s. Who am I kidding? I was a wallflower, hugging the black line, wanting to jump in and show what I had. It rarely happened. I was too close to the good dancers. They were my friends. Possums! Hoy! (Sorry, that was an inside joke, a play on Posse. We went through an initiation together. It was serious stuff.) They were always more confident than I, and they were too cool to care. I cared. I planned each step. Each planned step was a bit off beat because it was planned. I never just went for it until the music slowed down.
I don’t know how many of those girls actually wanted to dance with me, or if they just danced with me because I was friends with the guys that they had crushes on. If they were pity dances, I was fine with it. Their arms touched my shoulders, my arms at their hips, spinning. Sometimes, the lights hit their eyes, sparking green and red, only outdone by the Fourth of July. The best times, however, their eyes were shut. Their sincere head against my shoulder made me feel loved, if only for a moment.
When the song was over, I rushed back to my black line hoping to meet when the tempo fell again. I didn’t know how to ride that donkey, or Humpty Dance. Sometimes she would come back. Sometimes she found someone else. She was no one in particular, but for three minutes, my newly found hormones told me she was the one. She never was.
Every Friday and most Saturdays, I spent my allowance at the Roller Haven with my friends. If I could go back in time, I’d only do one thing different. I’d get off that black line, and dance. I was so nervous of making a fool out of myself; I forgot to just go have fun. No one wants a wallflower. It would have been so much better to try and fail, than not try at all.