We arrived at the rink around 10:30. I'm still sore from Monday's practice, and Yakuza's endurance training. Steve hadn't been on skates in a number of years. We pay our entry and walk over to the rental counter. Steve takes off for the restroom
I approach the skate booth. One of Astro's employees skates off the floor to come help me. He's quite obviously impressed with himself.
"I need an eight," I said to him.
He hands me a seven and a half.
"The half sizes run large, these should work," he said as he darts out of the booth to go impress some young, 18-year-old girl.
A woman knows her feet. I'm a solid eight, and I have been for years. I sit down on a bench and try to slide the skate on, of course it's too small. By this time Steve has come out of the bathroom. I lug the first pair of skates back over to the rental counter. We wait a good five minutes before the employee comes over to help us. He gives me the correct skates this time. Steve and I sit down to lace them up and head out onto the floor.
Skaters are fly past you at undetermined speeds. Some of the guys are skating fast. Some of the girls are skating slow and text messaging. Poorly mixed techno is blaring from the speakers. Fog is being pumped into the rink, and the lights are strobing. It's the perfect atmosphere to test my skating ability. All the while, I can't help but thinking that this is what skate nights were like when I was a kid.
It takes me a couple times around the rink to get comfortable on my wheels again. I watch the other skaters, and slowly begin to bob and weave amongst them. I almost collide with a girl on her cell phone. A boy speeds past me.
I start to work on my crossover. Basically your left leg is the steering wheel and your right leg is the gas peddle. By using this method, you can increase your speed on the curves, and have gliding momentum on the straight parts of the track. My thighs begin to burn, and my shins are most definitely splinting. The strobe lights and the fog really start to mess with my vision, so I take a breather. Steve keeps skating around the track.
After a couple of songs, it appears that the DJ has no intention of turning either off. So I take a deep breath an ease myself back on the floor. This time with more speed, and stamina. I start think of this evening as my first derby bout. I dodge the other skaters. I try not to out skate my wheels, but to pick up the most speed as possible. I correct mistakes in my footing without hitting the floor.
I didn't fall once tonight. And maybe, just by writing this, I'm jinxing myself. Whatever the outcome of my next skate sessions should be, I'll feel more confident stepping onto the floor.