Merrily We Roll Along.

Source: Gifer

Seeing a roller rink in Stranger Things 4 really took me back. Of course Stranger Things has always been drenched in nostalgia–I first started watching it not long after its first release when a friend texted me and said, “You’ve got to watch this–it’s your childhood!” and he was right as far as kids sitting around in a basement playing D&D. We never did save the world, but then we also never wasted a milkshake on a cruel and thoughtless prank either.

There was a reriod in my early teens when it seemed like I was at the Brentwood Skate Center two or three times a week, probably because I was there two or three times a week. There were special school nights and it was a popular place for birthdays of pretty much every kid I knew. In spite of that I was never a very good skater. I spent most of my time in the cluster of video games next to the rink–I was a master of Q*Bert and if I ran out of quarters or just needed a break I’d slowly make my way around the rink, holding onto the wall. The only time I ever really made any speed around the rink was one night when I was about to go and I’d turned in my skates. Kevin, who was still on skates, grabbed my coat and rolled away with it and I found the fastest way around a roller skating rink is in sneakers.

What I also remember is getting to the Brentwood Skate Center in the first place. It wasn’t far from where I lived and most of the adults who took us knew where it was, but, for some reason, one night my friend Tim’s father was the only adult available who could take us. Tim’s father was a gruff, serious guy who prided himself on knowing everything, especially directions. He had a ball compass mounted on his car’s dashboard and would, on long trips, lecture us on navigating by the position of the sun even though most of the time he was driving us at night.

It must have irritated him to have to say, “All right, boys, I don’t know where this place is so you’ll have to tell me where to turn.”

This was not a problem for me. I may not have been great on skates but I could find my way around and, as we approached the final stretch, I said to him, “Take the second left, the one past the interstate.”

“What?” he snapped. I think he’d been adjusting his compass.

“The second left,” I said, but I couldn’t get out “past the interstate.” He’d already taken the first left and was headed onto the interstate.  

Because the Brentwood Skate Center is a large building with not much else around it’s easy to see from the interstate, and, as we went by, Tim’s father said, “Well, there it is, how the hell do I get to it?” Then he started muttering about damn kids and how we didn’t know how to navigate by the position of the sun. He figured out his mistake, turned around, and went back, taking the correct turn.

In the end we were only about twenty minutes late, which was fine because, when Tim’s father came to pick us up to take us home, he was twenty minutes late. I suspect it’s because by that time the sun had set.  

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  1. BarbaraM

    Well, unless I have something pithy to say, you won’t see me as you still can’t count on my ‘like’ anymore, since as I mentioned, it won’t acknowledge my click. Interestingly enough, Just A Small Cog wouldn’t acknowledge my ‘like’ today either. Fortunately, other blogs do or I’d think it was time for kick in the hard drive. But even though you won’t see my blah icon, I’m still enjoying your blogs immensely!

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I appreciate that you’re dropping in even if I won’t necessarily see the “like”. And I think something funny happened with WordPress recently because I seemed to get kicked out of my account and had to change my password to sign back in. Go figure.

  2. Arionis

    I love Stranger Things just for the 80’s nostalgia alone! Kevin, sure is an asshole in a lot of your stories. Have you seen that Liberty Mutual commercial where the Emus are getting married and he says, “Not today, Kevin!” I always think of you when I see it.
    I also grew up going to the skating rink, that is until they closed it. I never smashed another person in the face with my skate, although I am sure I probably wanted to at one time. Me and my friends were more into relationship drama at the skating rink as seen by this excerpt from my Sophomore Memoir:

    I turned my thoughts to more pleasant things. Mainly going to the skating rink tonight and seeing Shannon.
    When I got there I saw her out on the floor skating. She was absolutely beautiful, moving around the floor, skating backwards, spinning around. She was an excellent skater and I was a little embarrassed. I was doing good just to stay up and be heading in the right direction. She came over to me while I was putting on my skates.
    “Hi,” she said.
    “Hi, you’re a great skater,” I replied.
    “Do you want to go skate?”
    “I guess so, but I’ll make a fool out of myself.”
    “Oh no you won’t. Come on!” She took my hand and led me out onto the floor. I managed to get going and soon we were both flying around the rink. I noticed that sitting at a table were Stacie, Rhonda, Mike, and Robert. After a couple of songs we went over to join them. I told them about my sister having chicken pox and they were as surprised as I was. Stacie didn’t have much to say at all.
    “Mike, conference time!” I said. We got up and went over by the video games.
    “What’s up?” he asked me.
    “I think I like Shannon.” Mike and I often had these conferences and I always asked his advice before I made a major decision.
    I noticed that something was going on between you two. What’s the story?”
    I told him all about yesterday. “What do you think?”
    “Are you using her to get back at Stacie?”
    “I know that’s what it looks like, but I’m not.”
    “Then I don’t see any problem. I think you should go for it. Shannon is a nice girl.”
    “Stacie’s not taking this too well.”
    “Yea, she told us you were hitting on her little sister.”
    “Look at her man. Does she look like a little seventh grader to you?” She was back on the floor skating her heart out.
    “No she doesn’t. Stacie will probably get over it.”
    She’ll have to, I thought as I joined Shannon on the floor. We skated on into the night and had a great time. I went home feeling really good and as I slept that night my dreams were filled with fantasies about Shannon and I.

    Interestingly enough, all those childhood friends, including Shannon, are getting together for a reunion in a few weeks after 30+ years of not ever being in the same place at one time. I’m looking forward to it.
    Arionis recently posted…Kindle Vella UpdateMy Profile

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I have seen that Liberty Mutual commercial! And, funny enough, I think of you when I see it because you’ve probably picked up on the recurrence of Kevin more than anyone else.
      It sounds like you had quite an interesting time at the skating rink. I need to pick up your sophomore memoir, both because I want to read it and also to have a complete collection of your works.

  3. markbialczak

    Double header here, Chris. I couldn’t skate very well and couldn’t find places very well until I bought a map book of all 50 states for my car.


    I did more ice skating than roller skating in rinks, Chris, but I remember in my 20s going to a rinky dinky roller skating rink in Waltham where my wallet got stolen and a guy (maybe like Tim’s father) letting me know that was my fault. Merrily we roll along as best we can.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I can count the number of times I’ve been ice skating on one hand and still have fingers left over, probably because the ice skating rink here was only open in the winters when I was a kid, and the roller skating rink was closer. I can’t imagine how it was your fault that your wallet got stolen, but then in my experience roller skating rinks tended to attract jerks.


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