Skater Punks You know exactly what I am talking about.
We have all seen them: the thrashed skate boards with nightmarish
graphics, the bizarre array of boxers peeking out of the ridiculously
baggy pants, jewelry protruding from places previously only inhabited
by the stray hair trying to avoid being plucked, that's right, the
skater punks. They aren't just boys or men; girls who played dress
up and Barbie have thrown off the perception of pale pink and purple
and are clad in black, brown, army green or any drab variation of
the ominous colors Generation X has chosen for their coat of arms.
Young men and women dress the same, walk the same, skate the same
and sport the same flippantly arrogant attitude. What on earth would
possess the youth of our nation to dress, behave and mutilate themselves
in such a manner? Have you ever seen an X-Games skate board competition?
These people are amazing. Why would you waste that athleticism and
agility on a sport that has nothing to offer but a bad reputation,
injury and trouble with the law?
"Mom, I'm home! Guess where Grandma took me to today.
We found a skateboard at a garage sale and we bought it for $2.00
and we went to the skate park. It is so cool. I met some new friends
and they showed me some tricks. Grandma is going to take me back
next week," Conner, my then six year old, excitedly gushed as he
walked through the front door.
Fear and anger seized me. I didn't know who to yell
at first. Conner, seeing the fierce look in my eyes, yelled, "Grandma
made me do it!" In her quest to become "cool," grandma had been
turned to the "dark side." In Benedict Arnold style, facing battle
and guaranteed desecration of her sainthood, she caved, switched
allegiances, and sold me out for the price of a smile. I couldn't
trust her, or the vipers she was now "hangin" with. Disbelief engulfed
me like a dark, damp heavy cloud. My ally was gone, deserted; I
stood alone to bear accusations like "you don't understand," "my
friends who have cool parents get to skate," "you're closed minded
and prejudiced," "just because you're old doesn't mean you know
everything." The verbal battle was in full array and the arrows
were hitting their target.
I pause from the narration at this time to relate an
observation that has come as a morbid dose of reality for me. You
will all have the following experience, at one time or another,
it is unavoidable. You will supply grandchildren for your parents
who have shamelessly begged, bribed, pleaded and blackmailed you
to procreate. By giving in to their pleas you will have equipped
them with the opportunity to earn their sainthood. Then, watching
you stagger from a near fatal battle wound, they will step forward,
take the sword from your child's hand and drive the final blow straight
through your heart. With this one act they will forever endear themselves
to your offspring and irrevocably reveal their true alliances
with them, against you.
'You know honey, you really should come check out the
skate park before you make your final decision," a woman I
did not know, who bore a striking resemblance to my mother, cooed
logically. I spun around, a cornered, wild animal sensing the battle
to ensue. "How dare you...We have talked endlessly about the problems
with the youth of today, not the least of which is the 'skater-tude'...
I entrusted my child to you and this is where you take him?...I
don't care if he asked you to, be the adult,...show some back bone.
You never had a problem saying the word 'no' when I was his age."
My emotional diatribe was unashamedly being ignored. The traitor
smiled, winked at Conner and said over her shoulder as she turned
to leave: "Conner and I would be happy to let you tag along next
time." I was speechless.
Defeated, weary from the staunch defense of ideals
and perceptions my faculties began to call an all out retreat. "What
could it hurt to go?...are you really afraid of some skater punks?...ratify
your assumptions...prove your perceptions...isn't Conner worth your
time...are you seriously going to let a 70-year-old grandma be more
open-minded than you?" Finally with a sigh of surrender, "I'll go."
As I walked up the dirt trail to the "bowls" I tried
to not look as scared as I felt. At first glance all I could see
was concrete. There are two large "bowls" that are side by side
and have a small lip that connects them. The "track" is the ring
around the outer edge of the cement that incorporates two large
ramps for building speed for jumps. In the middle there is a crisscross
design with stairs and rails for "grinding." The design was ingenious,
not much space but lots of options.
Conner threw his board down, put on his helmet, and
off he rolled; around the track, up and down the ramps over and
over, his smile spreading wider and wider across his innocent face.
"Hi Conner," called a tall stereotypical skater. I bristled, started
to step forward and the icy stiletto fingers from my childhood grabbed
my arm. Without a word my mom rescued Conner from certain social
death. "Hi Grandma, who's your friend?" the skater called out. Introductions
were made and the grip on my perceptions began to erode.
Then my fears were realized, Conner took a nasty spill
trying to grind. His board was too "sticky" to slide on the metal
rail and he landed on his elbow and hip. To my surprise the skater
punk got there before Conner's over protective mom. He gently picked
him up, asked if he was okay, looked to make sure there was no blood,
and walked him over to sit down.
"Next time borrow some of my wax to rub on the rail
so it slides," came the helpful suggestion from the "punk." I was
dumbfounded. Where were the "flippantly arrogant attitudes," disrespectful
indifference, and the scorching defiant eyes? "He'll be okay, don't
worry," the punk said reassuringly. "Thanks" I mumbled. "Mom, you
said you rode a skateboard when you were young, try mine, its fun."
"You rode a board? How cool, hop on and see if you remember how
to roll" the skater kid smiled. "I wish my parents did something
cool like that, then maybe they would understand. You are lucky
I didn't know whether to be embarrassed or proud. My
tattle-tale conscience reminded me of those ten minutes earlier
I was reciting the evils of skateboarding to myself. I cautiously
placed Conner's board down and assumed the stance. The wheels rolled
slowly at first, then faster and my confidence began to build. The
adrenaline rush was instant. The faster I went the more intoxicated
I felt. What a rush. I could do this all day.
"Mom, could I have my board now?"
"One more time around," I pleaded as I rolled quickly by.
"Come on mom, it's my board."
I slowed down and jumped off. Conner took off and yelled "Hey mom,
Teachers come in all shapes, sizes and wear all kinds
of different clothes. From eight to eighteen to seventy there are
many different people from diverse walks of life that can show us
things about who we are, who we think we are and most importantly
who we want to become. I didn't change my choice of clothes, music
or friends, but my custom board and pierced belly button have raised
some eyebrows and given me the opportunity to do a little teaching
of my own.