When I was a kid, nothing was more liberating than riding on my skateboard. Shutting the world out, ignoring and even instigating authority figures, as the wind blows through your hair as you ride with your own signature style. Attacking the concrete jungle with a passion and ferociousness, a feeling that I constantly try to capture everyday. Like a heroin junkie who is always searching for the same feeling he had when he got that first high, that feeling as a teenager that I had is one that I felt, until recently, I would never recapture.
It was the summer of 1988, which is a pretty monumental summer for me because this is when I knew I would stop skateboarding and try to fit in as a jock amongst all the other high school lemmings. It's funny, I even knew what I was doing was the epitome of lame now that I think about it, but since being a skateboarder wasn't going to get me laid I had to make that tough decision. My crew, Danny, Will, Mike, D.A, and myself would try to skate anything possible. Handrails, supermarket curbs, concrete ditches, you name it we left our mark on it if it was within a five mile radius of our house.
But not only did our usual skate spots get extremely fucking boring to skate, but the cops harassed us so much that it was hard to shake them loose. We were at a virtual stand still. Yeah, we could have skated the local skate-park, but there were so many little kids with their goddamn parents there that it seemed totally out of the question to go there. Right in the middle of this predicament we were having, Danny was invited to this pool party that this girl named Brenda Martinez was having. Since Danny was invited, we were all invited, that's just how it was.
As Danny and four of his uninvited friends(including myself) bum-rush the party, the host of the party, Brenda, is going absolutely bat-shit. I know she was going bat-shit because she started yelling in Spanish, it's always a bad sign when someone abandons English to curse your ass out. As Danny is trying to explain to Brenda that we are his friends, she glances at me and asks, "What's your name?" I said, "HumanityCritic". She told Danny, "OK, yall can stay, but don't cause any fucking trouble!", then she walked away. Danny turned to me and said, "Dude, she likes you man!!", then nervously starts giggling and shaking me. I said, "No she doesn't, she doesn't like me!!" For some reason, my self esteem was in the crapper concerning woman around that time.
As we are devouring her food like we don't have any manners, home training, and haven't eaten in a month, I am standing over her pool just staring for minutes. I scroll slowly over the length of the pool, the pools wall, the lip of the pool, then a light bulb comes on inside my head: This pool is skateable! I point this out to Danny, and the other members of our crew and they become more excited than I am. When Danny asks Brenda if she would empty it so we could skate it I suddenly hear more Spanish, which isn't a good sign. Right in the middle of her telling us to basically "fuck off" Danny jokingly says, "What if HumanityCritic takes you on a date? Would you let us skate it then?" She pauses, looks at me, and simply says "OK"."What a minute! Don't you have to ask me if you are going to just pimp me out like that??", I said. Then Danny put his arm over my shoulder, and guided me to the pool and said, "Look at that pool man! Imagine all the cool shit we could do in that pool man! Plus, Brenda is cute, take one for the team bruh." I figured he was right and decided to indeed take one for the team.
I never knew that "taking one for the team" was being an absolute man-whore. Not only did I take Brenda on dates, I can recall certain episodes where we would come to her house to skate her pool, and she said she wouldn't let us skate until I came inside and "fucked" her. Nothing is more humiliating than coming out of her house, with skateboard in toe, and having Danny say, "Don't have this pool smelling like ass now!" Or when Will used to mockingly sing, "I'm just a Gigolo, everybody knows.." But that embarrassment quickly vanished when I started skating that pool. Riding it felt so effortless, carving each turn like my life depended on it, grinding while putting my hands behind my back showing off, catching air and making a mean face ala Tony Alva. That summer was the last time I would be "free" for a long time. Free from rules, free from caring about what people thought, free from my own self destruction. Just free.
That summer, that 81 day party of skateboarding nonstop ended with me quitting skateboarding to be one of the normal kids. Yes, quickly I realized that being a normal kid was absolute horseshit because being "normal" is so fucking uninteresting. I tried to go back to skating, back to my crew, but they felt that I abandoned them so it was never the same. Fast forward to June 2005, I am best friends with Danny, and I keep in contact with the rest of the guys as well. We all still skateboard somewhat, but I honestly haven't skated a pool since the Brenda Martinez pool, and I thought I would never skate any pool again. That's until Danny told me that he ran into Brenda Martinez herself.
Danny told me that Brenda had just got a divorce, just moved back to the area, and she is now living in her parents house which she bought. We looked at each other, smiled, and I said, "Danny, that was 16 years ago! My chubby black ass ain't skating shit!" He told me that she invited him to come to her pool and skate if he wanted to, and that he was going to skate it tomorrow. I told him to have fun and that I wasn't going to "break my neck in that god-damned pool!" That night I couldn't sleep, tossing and turning, occasionally glancing over at my skateboard. When I woke up I said to myself, "Fuck it", grabbed my board and headed to Brenda's house.
As I opened the gate I see Danny, Will, Mike, and D.A skating that pool like it was 1988. It was pretty emotional for me, not only because of the great times I had skating, but for the first time I felt that I was officially let back into the crew. Right before it was my turn to skate Brenda came out and said, "HumanityCritic, you haven't fucked me yet!!" We all busted out in uncontrollable laughter.(even though Brenda was wearing some little shirts. Shit. I wouldn't mind being a man-whore nowadays)
The old crew was back, a little older, a little wiser, a little fatter, but we were back. We reminisced a lot that day too. We reminisced about the skateboard contest I entered, where everyone else who was in the contest played punk rock music where I chose to play Run DMC's "King of Rock" during my skateboard run. We reminisced about the time that I got jumped and Danny tried to hit the guys who were beating my ass with a wiffle bat. Those were the days.
We skated the pool all day, taking each run seriously, like it was our last day on earth. I know that not too many 31 year old men can say this, but I felt like a 15 year old kid again. I was free. Free from rules, free from caring about what people thought, free from my own self destruction. Just free.