So many of my friends know that the reason my website is called Skates, Scripts & Hair Dye are because my favorite things in this world are funky hair colors, filmmaking and roller skates. Yep, quads. Good ol’ fashioned skates.
My fascination with skating started when I was a kid and would wear five pairs of socks so I could fit into my older sister’s suede-finish blue and white lowtop outdoor speed skates with the blue wheels. They looked like they fell off the back of the Partridge Family tour bus and couldn’t have been more 70s if they tried, but I didn’t care. I loved ’em. I wore them all the time and would do spins in the kitchen until my mother would catch me and scold me for rolling around on the nice linoleum floor, leaving scratch marks. I wore them in the driveway, carefully sliding from the smooth finished side to the rough finished side, then down the bumpy sidewalk. I went to the roller rink as much as I could and learned to speed skate. I was never the fastest of the bunch, but I could hold my own and I had crazy amounts of endurance.
I kept skating as I got older and into my teens, I went to the rink less and less. I remember when I was about thirteen or fourteen and would stay up late to watch RollerGames, sometimes whispering into my little pink Conair phone to my friend Beth. Usually whispering because my phone cord connected to the jack in my parents’ room and was fed through the heat vent, meaning that I had to sit near the vent to talk and it was past my bedtime when the show would be on. I said that I wanted to be a Thunderbird when I got old enough. Or maybe a Maniac, since they had the cool punk theme going. But mostly, I wanted to be on RollerGames.
Fastforward a few years. The show was canceled after like half a season and by now I learned about boys. My rollerskates were retired to the closet, never to be seen again. I’m pretty certain that the ghost of Brady Bunch Episodes Past reclaimed them or something. Which was fine, because instead of rollerskates, we had cars. Plus, I had a boyfriend. Little did I know at the time that my epic crush and my dramatic speeches that it doesn’t matter how much my parents ground me for being out late, I was never ever EVER going to break up with him would lead to us being married to this day. See? I TOLD my mother I knew what I was talking about, that just because she didn’t think he was perfect for me didn’t mean he wasn’t.
But anyway, in the back of my mind, I still always had a special little spot for rollerskates. I bought a pair of rollerblades at the sporting goods store, thinking perhaps that might ease the strange itch I had to be back on wheels, but it wasn’t the same. In fact, I wore them one time and banished them to the depths of the closet, possibly hoping that the ghost of Really Dumb Ideas might come steal them away. Then one day in my late 20s, I looked outside and thought I should go DO something instead of sitting on my butt on a nice Saturday afternoon watching TV and reading books. I should go for a walk or maybe a jog. No, a walk. Definitely a walk. And somehow I found myself googling the roller rinks I used to go to, seeing if they were still there and still had open skates. And they did. I was shocked and decided to go since the next open skate started in about 40 minutes and that was about how long it’d take me to get there. (Remember, I live in the boonies!)
I was wobbly and uneasy on my skates. It felt strange and alien to have these heavy wheels sprouting from my feet. My arms flailed and my feet kept going in directions I didn’t intend for them to go. I looked unsteady and like I didn’t belong, unlike the ten-year-old kids zipping past me without effort. But after an hour or so, I got my skate feet back and I could go, so I went. I did lap after lap after lap, just bouncing my head along to the beat of the music. I got my crossovers back, too. Once I could do a deep, fast crossover that would have my left elbow brushing the floor, my ankles bent in unnatural ways. Of course, that’s back in the days when I wore a size five and could do the splits in mid-air. Needless to say, that is no longer the case at all.
It wasn’t all fun and games. I was sweaty, I had horrible HORRIBLE shin splints and my legs and butt were somewhat numb from overusing muscles I hadn’t used in years. But dammit, I had fun. The next day, I started looking up how much it would be to get my own skates, since I was now old enough to have developed some Sheldon Cooper tendencies. As much as I meant to, I didn’t go back to the rink for months and months. Finally though, I did find a pair of cheap skates, ordered a pair of awesome outdoor wheels and decided I was going to go roller skating outdoors at the metropark. I had these visions of gliding past people who would remark ‘What a lovely girl and such pretty hot pink wheels on those skates! She is, truly, a trendsetter who cares not for normal convention and instead of jogging like those poor shmucks, she’s having a grand time on her skates!’ and such things.
I did take up skating in the parking lot at work after hours and sometimes at lunch. The surface had been reblacktopped not long before so it was smooth and even. I even liked the sound my bearings made since they had gotten a tiny bit dirty after a while and made the faintest clickyclick sound. After a while, it became cold so I decided to clean my wheels off and go to the rink. I scrubbed those wheels for hours, until my arms and wrists and hands hurt from it. By the time I was done, I was too tired to go skating so I threw the skates in the corner and vowed to go next week. Okay now it’s raining so maybe NEXT next week. Or the one after that, since I think I have to go shopping or to see a movie next weekend… the excuses finally ran out and I went back to the rink, this time armed with my own skates.
Soon I learned that there was a resurgence in roller derby. There were flat track women’s leagues popping up all over. Sure it wasn’t QUITE the same as the theatrical banked track RollerGames I had fallen in love with, but this was real. This was a sport, not a drama on skates. I was entranced from the first moment I found out about it. The only problem was, the practices were too far away and were on nights I couldn’t make it. So my dreams of being a roller derby powerhouse were once again dashed. Still, I kept up with derby because it is made of epic and win and awesome. It’s made up of sweat and tears and glitter and vanilla body lotion. It’s part rockstar and part pro hockey player and part fairy princess.
So when I found out that there was someone in Ann Arbor who wanted to gauge interest in starting up an Ann Arbor league, of course I was giddy and jumped right in. With me using most of what I call my ‘bad knee karma’ up in zumba, I worried that doing derby would push it and might just tip me over the edge and I’d end up needing my knee replacement surgery sooner than I wanted. Yes, despite my husband and family and friends thinking I am insane and WANT to get my knee surgery and insist on putting myself into things that will bring it about sooner, I really don’t want to hurt myself. I have days where I can barely walk as it is and I just power through it. Until I really really really can’t walk anymore, I’m not getting it done. So why would I WANT to up my chances of damaging my knee by about 1000% by doing derby?
At first I thought ‘Well I’ll just help out…’ and then I thought ‘Wait, I can still skate! I’ll just take myself out of the REALLY risky part of a skater and put myself into the slightly less risky part of a referee!’ and since I was going to learn the rules and things to act as one of the NSOs (Non Skating Officials) all I had to do in addition was get good enough to pass basic skills and keep working on improving my skating.
And so I am now a ref with the Ann Arbor Derby Dimes. I am also a founding member and on the board of directors. Clearly, derby is taking over my life! And I love it that way.
Since I started doing derby, I’ve met some amazing women. I’ve met women who have gone from good skaters to GREAT skaters. I’ve met women who went from shy girls who can’t skate without holding onto the wall to powerhouses who have no problem screaming OUTSIDE! as they come up behind you for a body whip so they can cut the other jammer off. I’ve made friends with girls I never would have met before and found out that we have things in common where I never would have thought we did had I met them under other circumstances. Plus I’m starting to get derby butt and the other day I went into the store after practice, wearing my hair in ratty pigtails, clad in a workout shirt, funky knee-high socks and a pair of tights with a tiny skirt over them and I didn’t even care what I looked like. Granted, I have trouble matching my clothes, but I wouldn’t usually go out in that short of a skirt without there being alcohol involved, a dare, a lost bet or a comic book convention. Now? Now I just don’t care. I don’t have a perfect body and if you don’t wanna see my so-muscular-I-could-crush-you-with-my-thighs legs, then don’t look.
And so that is the story about how I got into roller derby. It is a story I realized I haven’t yet told, though I do have a blog on the A2D2 site about it. So I guess you should get used to hearing about my adventures in roller derby.