“Hokey Pokey”

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I am a klutz. I was a klutz growing up. I am a klutz now.

Enter my worst nightmare: growing up during the roller skating era. This was before rollerblades. Before rollerblades became replaced with scooters. Before scooters became replaced with electric scooters. And this whole time, the bicycle was laughing. This was old school. This was terrifying.

Every single birthday party I went to in my youth was held at the local roller rink.

I would linger in the sitting area while tying my roller skates onto my shaky legs. I would act like staying on the carpet was the most exciting thing to do. It never worked. Some grown up would grow weary of me eavesdropping on their conversation.

“Go out there,” I would be told.

I would make my shuffling way to the rink. Dread settling in my stomach like a day old biscuit that I didn’t want to eat. Each step, a bite scraping on my teeth. A slanted chew. The crumbs of panic sliding down my spine. I would grip the edge of the rink with my fingertips. The walls were made of carpet. Or carpet covered the walls. It mattered not. It provided enough of a texture for the end of my fingertips to grip into the edge. And around I would go.

It never failed.

“Let’s hear it for the birthday girl!” I would be halfway around the rink. My fingernails aching.

“Everyone in the middle!”

I would flatten myself against the carpeted wall. Strobes flashing to the fast beat of my heart.

“EVERYONE in the middle. You! On the wall! Get to the middle!”

One time, I didn’t move. I figured, “What could they do?” Let me tell you what they could do. They will turn on all of the lights. Everyone in the rink will stare at you. Some bored teenager will be sent to pry your fingers from the wall and skate with you to the center of the rink, where they will deposit you into a glaring circle of children. And without fail, “The Hokey Pokey” will begin.

It was easier and less dramatic to just let the inevitable happen. To let go.

And so the festivities would be put on hold as I creeped my way to the circle. Every eye upon me. Cold sweat clinging to my back.

I would finally make it there. And it would begin.

“Put your right foot in.”

My nightmare would pause and I could manage to fumble my way through the familiar song. A beat I could finally follow. A song that told me what to do.

But then it would be over. And just like that, I was in the middle of a tornado of children. Swirling by me. It was no wonder I was a prodigy at “Frogger.” I lived that game from the time I was eight to the time I was twelve.

As soon as I would make my way across the round room of pulsating horror, the party would be over.

Until the next weekend.

I never did get over my terror of the roller rink. But I did grow up. I realized that not loving to roller skate is not a flaw. It is not a social stigma anymore. In fact, if I showed my children a pair today, they would probably laugh. The roller skates to them being silly shoes with old fashioned wheels and nothing more. Not an object of failure. Just shoes. With wheels.

I know that now.

“And that’s what it’s all about.”

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* I wrote this in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Writing Challenge. . The challenge this week is “moved by music.”

* Pictures of roller skates are from Target’s website. They are very cute…for roller skates.

25 thoughts on ““Hokey Pokey”

  1. Pingback: Dil Dil Pakistan | A mom's blog

    • Thank you so much Brynne! I really appreciate it. I love to write and this blog is the way I practice. Thank you for indulging me. : ). And math is never ever fun.

      Have a beautiful week!

      Jenni

      • You are too funny; I cracked up when I read, “What could they do?” Reminds me of myself as a kid. I’ve gone to a million skating-rink parties and I’ve never grown to enjoy it nor have I gotten over my fear of it. I’ve always had a fear of falling and being stampeded on by all of the skaters around me, lol. Glad to know I am not alone.

      • Thanks Sherry! I am glad we are in a sisterhood of rollerskating terror together! Too bad we could not have clung to the wall at the same parties. It sucked being alone. I very much appreciate you responding. And sharing your experience! : )

        I hope your day is filled with happy feet on the ground!

        Jenni

  2. You poor thing! Reading this made me wanna timetravel back and save you! I’ve only experienced this once, at 17, at my first and last ice-skating session with a group from my class. The boys dragged me into the middle and left me there! No more skates for me, be it with blades or wheels on! 😉

    • Hi Gwen! Oh! That sucks! What a mean boy! Ice skates are even harder (Sayaka is amazing that she can do it). I tried that once, too. I stepped onto the ice and then promptly stepped off. It really hurts your ankles!

      As adults we could sit on the bench and drink wine and go rescue the poor souls on the wall. Let’s “cheers” to that!

      Jenni

  3. I got carpet burns on my hands from trying to hold on to the walls. If only we had been invited to the same parties! Great job on this piece. You nailed it.

    • Yes! We should have been invited to the same parties! Then everything would have been much better. : )

      Thank you for the sweet compliment. I am always trying to practice and improve. I appreciate it!

      Have a great weekend!

      Jenni

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  6. Hahaha!!! Love it. Grew up in the day of ‘quad’ skates, too.
    Kryptonic crazy color silicone wheels, rainbow suspenders, quilted satin wings.. Wow. Thanks for the memories! 🙂

    • Thank you! : ). I always love to bring back memories. I am glad yours are better than mine. ; ). I can still get clammy thinking about it. Although, I would take that to all of these gadgets nowadays.

      Have a great weekend!

      Jenni

  7. Oh my gosh, I cannot tell you how much I relate to this post!! I totally grew up during the roller skate era as well (I’ll be 32 next week). The hokey pokey and the limbo were my worst nightmares!.I would conveniently “have to pee” every time I saw that they were about to bring out that terrifying limbo stick. I wonder how many socially awkward situations I’ve avoided by hiding in the bathroom?

    • Thanks Christina! I had forgotten all about the limbo! Oh the memories! Not good! I wonder what my kids will remember as their awkward moments. I can’t think of any, but thankfully my time has passed! I am glad you could relate with me, especially since it was so lonely at the time!

      I hope you have a wonderful week!

      Jenni

  8. I had the same feelings when I was a kid about roller coasters and ferris wheels. Also, petting snakes or going up a million steps on those look -out things at state parks. I could never understand why in the world it mattered to anyone if I didn’t climbed the steps or didn’t pet the stupid snake. I was fine not participating. Adults could be so weird.

    • You are so right! Cynthia! And sometimes I do that with my own children and then I think, “why do I care?” Such as trying to make them try a certain dessert. Why would I care I they eat dessert?! I have to check myself sometimes and realize that some things are not worth fighting about or making them do.

      Have a great Tuesday!

      Jenni

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