Hell on wheels.
I loved roller skating as a kid. Still do. As someone prone to both accidents and anxiety, roller skating is the closest I’ll ever come to flying and I’m very comfortable with that. I can think of nothing more terrifying than being on a motorcycle because it does not contain seat belts so I’ll stick to wheels I can wear, thanks. I never grew tired of going around and around the oval-shaped rink, feeling completely free, gliding like some sort of avian creature in OshKosh.
Y’all remember Couple Skate? It was that birthday party agenda item in between Abba songs and slightly crusted over buttercream frosting when the DJ (and let me tell you how badly I need a documentary on 80s/90s-era roller rink DJs) would announce to all that it was time for the moment that really separated the Cools from the Not-Cools: “Couple Skate.” Do you remember how that felt? I still feel it just as tangibly as I feel the sock on my left foot sliding down below my heel as we speak. It’s the feeling of being left out.
When I say left out, I mean left out. Never, literally not once in my entire youth did I ever have a boy to Couple Skate with. But we’re not here to unpack the shortcomings of my childhood, are we? We’re here to unpack the messages about superiority that were communicated to us as kids that can lead to the thoughts and feelings we have throughout our lives. I want to talk about how Couple Skate impacted the course of my entire life, and I don’t just mean my visceral discomfort upon hearing “slow songs” to this day. I mean I learned lessons from Couple Skate that I had to unlearn as an adult (once I discovered that unlearning was even a thing) and I want to help you do the same, because I don’t think it’s fair that childhood exposure to cruel exclusivity should have so much to say about us when we’re grown.
When something is kept from you, you learn that it’s not for you. That’s something other kids get, but not you — you don’t get to have that. It becomes a lesson baked into your developing brain that slowly morphs into your understanding of your own value and place in the world. You develop the belief that some things are only for others, and because no one is specifically teaching you why things like Couple Skate get to happen to other kids and not you, you’re…