I carry around fond memories of the skating rink when I was a kid growing up in Huntsville, Ala.
Once the basic skills were mastered, skating was a guaranteed good time.
I liked to skate close to the carpeted wall, which reminded me of special effects from “Star Wars” and “Battlestar Galactica.” The blurring of the carpet fibers as I sped by suggested the blurring of stars out the window of a spaceship. We played “Wipeout,” where everyone fell to the floor at the DJ’s command. When it was over, he thanked us for cleaning the floor.
I developed my lifelong love for air hockey in the game room. It was tough to play with wheels on my feet, but those early challenges helped turn me into the air hockey master I am today.
At the snack bar, the go-to choices were pizza and “suicide,” a mixture of every sugary, carbonated beverage they had.
Calories burned quickly on the floor, where music boomed and lights flashed. Bright reflections off the disco ball enhanced my spaceship game.
This past weekend, I revisted that environment for my daughter’s 11th birthday. The main goal was for Olivia and her friends to have fun, and that mission was easily accomplished.
It wasn’t all bad for me, either. Another dad and I stayed in the party room and talked about this, that and the other.
Things didn’t turn horrible until I left the building to carry stuff to the car. Once outside, I noticed how peaceful everything had become, and realized I didn’t want to go back into the chaos of constant music, flashing lights and kids darting from all directions.
I did my fatherly duty and returned, but I was acutely aware of the effect the place had on me.
I thought about my Granny and the “nerve pills” she took all those many years ago, when events threatened to overwhelm her.
I don’t recall her ever visiting a skating rink, but if she’d gone without taking a preemptive nerve pill, you probably would’ve heard about it on the news: “A grandmother from Tennessee exploded today at an Alabama skating rink.”
Granny was very much on my mind when I was paroled from the party to pick up my son from another party. I turned the radio off and listened to road noises with the windows down.
At the other party, the boys were in the back playing video games. I joined the adults in a quiet living room, where we watched an Elvis Presley movie. I was offered a Bud Light. Though not exactly a nerve pill, it was much appreciated. They say we’re supposed to gracefully surrender the trappings of youth, but I took a few moments to mourn the fact that something once so enjoyable had turned hostile.
What’s that you say? I’ll always have air hockey? But for how long, my friend? How long?
M. SCOTT MORRIS is a Daily Journal feature writer. Contact him at (662) 678-1589 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal