Here is a story about a friend of mine named Pritchard. It’s sort of an embarrassing story, but I thought it was too good to not tell. I hope he doesn’t get too upset, but I think you’ll enjoy it… so it’s worth it.
Most people over the course of their childhood attended at least one birthday party at a roller skating rink. We all remember them; the rollerbladers, the rollerskaters, the spectacular early 90’s music (specifically Blues Traveler and Third Eye Blind if I recall correctly), the voice of the PA system guy that told you when to skate backwards, forwards, to reverse directions, or to wipe out, the races, the black lights, the arcade section for the non-skaters, and of course the cookie cake (Maybe your memories of these parties are different, but in Pritchard and my experiences, this was how it was. For some reason, probably because it is so exciting and delicious, there was always a cookie cake).
While most aspects of these parties were consistently the same, the parties themselves created different experiences depending on what type of kid you were. On one hand you had the “bladers.” These were often the cool kids. The kids who usually had cool shit, like electronic toys, the most up to date gaming system (I think it was SEGA during this phase of my life), the trendy new clothes, pizza lunchables, gushers, and of course rollerblades.
Having access to their own rollerblades enabled these kids to practice… and practice was important for these parties. Like with anything practiced, you start off with the basics. As you get better, as you get more confident and comfortable, you start practicing cooler, more advanced moves; like skating while crouched, skating fast, skating backwards, jumping, and other killer moves.
These were the “bladers.” They usually had their own, top of the line, brand named blades, specifically made for going fast or doing awesome tricks. And as soon as these kids arrived at these parties, they would quickly strap on their gear, and head straight for the center of the rink; gliding swiftly yet effortlessly as they waited for some sort of competition to dominate. If you can’t tell, there was a little bit of jealousy there on my part. Pritchard and I were not included in the “blader” category.
I don’t really have a name for the next category. We’ll call them “halfers”. These were the kids who had either been skating just long enough to have a little bit of confidence but lacked the skill to back it up, or kids who had their own pair of recently purchased skates or rollerblades and hadn’t yet practiced enough to glide along side the bladers. These kids ranged from the fearless to the wannabes, and were usually the ones who fell the most. Pritchard was not in this group either.
Pritchard was in the third group. I was in that group too, but that isn’t important here, because this story is about Pritchard, not me. Pritchard was in a group we can call the “non-skaters.” That doesn’t mean he didn’t want to be a skater… he simply was not one. He was one of the kids that had to rent those super generic brown skates with the orange wheels. The skates that each weighed twenty-five pounds and had an orange stopper on the front so that when you wished to stop you had to point your toe like you were a ballerina… a move which often resulted in a face plant.
Another terrible part about those skates, a part that is often forgotten, is the fact that those skates had like 100 lace holes. You had to completely unstring each individual lace just to get your foot in, and then lace them all the way back up. It took half an hour per skate, they came halfway to your knee, the wheels would get stuck if you got an exceptionally shitty pair, and even if you were good at skating with them on you looked like a gay construction worker or like you worked at Sonic… they were just awful.
Another trait of “non-skaters” was the style in which they skated. Once they surgically applied their skates, even in the dark and even if you couldn’t recognize the equipment they were wearing, you could always point out the non-skaters. They (we) utilized the clumpy, stomp-walk method to meander our way around the building. It was the opposite of gliding, and it was one hell of a workout; picking up your knees (and subsequently the 25 pounds of old leather and rubber attached to your feet) and stepping one foot in front of the other, grabbing onto every fixed object for support, until you arrived at the gross fuzzy carpet wall that surrounded the interior rink.
After reaching the wall, it was relatively smooth sailing as you guided yourself with your hands along the edge, using the wall for balance and leverage. Every once in a while you might get the courage push yourself away from the wall and just sort of drift into the middle of the rink, nearly knocking down several of those who were free skating in the designated counter-clockwise direction, before you goofily and ever so carefully stomp-walked your way back to the safety of the wall.
I am not entirely sure why us non-skaters put ourselves through the miserable process of trying to skate at basically every available opportunity. Maybe it was because it was fun for a while (although it usually wasn’t too long before the non-skaters would remove their skates and spend the rest of the party running around in socked feet) or maybe it was just that the idea of skating was enjoyable enough to make us forget how bad we were. In any case, skating was a joy for some but a dream for others. For Pritchard, it was just a dream.
At one particular party Pritchard forgot his lack of skill and once again tried to make his dream a reality. It is important to note that Pritchard was a bit of a momma’s boy. That meant that at every birthday party he attended, regardless of location or activities to be participated in, his mother would dress him as though he was going to church. Button down shirt, long khaki pants with quintessential brown woven belt, and handsomely parted hair. He always looked dapper at these parties, but it often made him feel silly. He would have to scrunch up his khakis to mid shin level to get his skates on, and they usually stayed that way until he took the skates off. He looked like he was wearing knickerbockers, which, if you weren’t aware, look even dumber when you wear them with ugly brown skates.
At this particular party, he was dressed as handsomely as ever. He arrived at the party, got his skates at the desk, and immediately began the process of attaching them to his feet. We happened to finish at the same time and guided ourselves to the rink so that we could partake in the activities with the rest of our friends.
Roller Kingdom, our local skating rink, was a rectangular building. At entrance was the front desk, where you got your skates, to the right was the arcade area, and to the left was a diner-like “party” area where the birthday aspects of the party took place (cake, present giving, present opening, etc.). The rest of the rectangle was rink itself. It was a wooden floored semi-circle surrounded by carpet-covered walls that had several open spot through which you could enter. On the outside of the wall was a carpeted floor in the shape a horseshoe where many non-skaters spent most of their time.
Here is a diagram to provide a better visualization:
After skating on the carpeted exterior for a bit, Pritchard and I got our confidence up and decided to participate in the game of Wipeout that had just begun on the wooden interior. This was the game where the man on the PA system would bark out orders to the kids as the hit song Wipeout, by The Surfaris, would play in the background. It was fun. Pritchard wiped out a few more times than called for, but he overcame and enjoyed himself as he stomped walked around the rink for another hour or so.
A few hours later, as the party “raged” on, Pritchard rolled up to me with a pained look on his face. I had no time to deal with him and his issues, because I had issues of my own (I was trying to overcome my inability to skate backwards. I had gotten embarrassed during Wipeout when the man said to skate backwards and I was the only person just standing there, looking over my shoulder, and trying to will my skates to roll backwards because I had no idea know what I was doing).
“I gotta pee. Do you know where the bathroom is?” he asked me.
“No.” I replied… my concentration focused completely on my skates.
“I really have to pee.” He whined; as though telling me again would somehow cause me know where the bathroom was.
“I heard you. I still don’t know where it is. I’m busy… Go check those doors.” I said as I pointed to one of the doors located at either ends of the horseshoe-shaped carpeted exterior towards the back of the building.
As fast as he could, which was very slowly, he turned around and headed towards the door on the right, which was all the way on the other side of the building. I felt sort sorry for him and chuckled to myself as I watched him propel himself along the wall with one hand as the other pinched off his urine flow (if I wasn’t clear, I mean he was squeezing his wiener).
Below I have drawn a diagram of Pritchard’s journey around the skating rink in his search for a bathroom:
(Pritchard is represented by the red circle, I am the green dot)
If that isn’t clear enough; he first rolled to over to me, then headed for the door on other side of the rink. Upon discovering that door was locked he skated to other end-door only to find that it was an exit. About to explode, he then frantically headed for the front desk where he finally asked an employee for directions. After being told it was in the “party area,” he skated with all his might over to the tiled cafeteria-like floor, through the swinging bathroom door, and up to the urinal.
He could feel the pressure building. He was almost to the breaking point. He struggled to undo his woven belt and pants button while at the same time he tried to maintain a firm grip on himself…
But then his grip slipped…
A little bit of weewee found its’ way into the urinal… but the majority did not.
Pritchard had pissed his khaki pants.
The poor bastard. Pritchard was so embarrassed. He wheeled himself into the stall and sat down on the toilet, his thinking seat, to try and formulate a plan of action.
Should he try to make a break for the dark area of the rink and just try to avoid people? Should he skate up to the rink and coast around the exterior with his crotch pressed against the wall? Should he go buy a coke and spill it all over himself and just pretend like he got clumsy with his drink? Should he just stay in the bathroom for the rest of the party and hope that no one remembered that he was there?
While trying to figure out what to do, he decided it would probably be best to remove those stupid skates that had caused the accident in the first place. After about ten minutes he had gotten the first one off. As he began on the second one, Tommy, one of the nicest kids in school, rolled into the bathroom. Pritchard could tell it was Tommy by his awesome new designer blades. Tommy was wearing gym shorts which made his bathroom experience quite a bit smoother than Pritchard’s had been. But it gave Pritchard an idea.
As Tommy flushed and rolled over to the sink to wash his hands, Pritchard, as quiet as ninja, with his left skate in his hand snuck up behind Tommy and bludgeoned him to death with the clunky old roller skate.
Pritchard quickly changed pants with Tommy’s lifeless body, dragged the corpse onto the toilet seat, closed the stall door, and then skated his way back out to piss free freedom. No one ever suspected a thing.
… At least that is what he wished had happened.
In actuality, I sat on the toil- Err, I mean Pritchard sat on the toilet, removed his skates, and using them to cover his piss stained dress pants, he snuck out of the bathroom and over to the arcade area where he sat down in one of those seated racecar driving games and pretended to play until his mom came and picked him up.