This week was roller rink madness for the children, and I went along to observe and learn. Here are some of my lessons:
1. It's got to be about the roller skating.
All the way to the rink the kids kept begging me to skate with them. But as they talked more and more about how many of their friends would be there, and how much better they are at skating than me, I started to have a sinking suspicion about something.
Me: Are you guys going to ditch me as soon as we get there?
Me: So, if I rent roller skates and go out there, you guys are going to leave me to skate by myself?
A: It's just that you aren't that good, Dad.
Z: And all our friends are going to be there.
Me: In other words, you're planning to ditch me.
2. The race is not won by the swift, but by the medium swift with good listening skills.
During a classic game of "Red Light, Green Light" the seventeen year old announcer (we'll call him Billy) cleverly removed all the best skaters from the game by saying things like, "If you rented your skates today take three steps forward" and then sending them back to the beginning because he didn't say "Green Light." All three of the winning kids were in the medium range of skaters and followed directions precisely. They had learned to skate in such a way as to not be disqualified.
3. Dig Dug is still fun.
The arcade game Dig Dug, in which a burrowing burrower destroys monsters which can turn into ghosts by dropping rocks on them or pumping them up with a bicycle pump. It's ridiculous, and would never stand up to the complex games of today, but the fact is that if I had ten bucks worth of quarters I could have emptied my pockets into that arcade game while my kids were skating. Ah, vanished youth! Return to us with your crazy video games!
4. Soundtrack, Lighting and Timing matter more than stern lectures.
About halfway through the evening, the owner of the roller rink got into the Deejay's box, took hold of the mike, cut the music and announced that SOMEONE IS CALLING 911 FROM THE PAYPHONES! She informed the children that the police had called the roller rink, and that if anyone was caught calling 911 they would be PROSECUTED! Also, the school principal would be informed.
About half a second after she turned the microphone back to our seventeen year old Deejay, Billy, he turned off the lights, turned on the strobe lights and disco ball and turned on Michael Jackson's THRILLER. An enormous cheer came up from the crowd, must too quickly after what had been a chastened silence and we suddenly all realized that Billy was saying that whoever had called 911 was a hero*, because there was an emergency, because if you weren't here in the flickering light of the disco ball and celebrating 1980's pop music then you were missing out, you were somehow lesser than us, and that was cause for concern, and for now we just wanted to say, while skating in circles over and over, "Because it's Thriller, Thriller night..."**
* Billy was wrong of course. Calling 911 frivilously is stupid and can cause a lot of damange in addition to getting you jail time. Don't do it!
** No, I have no idea how a bunch of grade schoolers knew this song. But they did.