Fear on Wheels!

            Like snakes on a plane, but much more likely: Me on roller skates. This is evidently very scary to people in my small town.
            It’s not scary to me! It’s awesome to me. I have fabulously fun quad roller skates, the old-school kind that are white  Suzskates with hot pink wheels. I can skate backwards and cross one foot over the other as I take turns, and it’s fun to ride on the back two wheels of my front skate while balancing on the front two wheels of my back skate. My boyfriend rolls on inline skates, but I’m super-down with the quads.
            And really, up until my last roll through town, the general feedback was a thumbs up as a rolled past. But this last weekend – so lovely with 78-degree weather, sunshine and live music by Moska Project at the stage abutting the St. Lucie River – also happened to be the height of snowbird season. And these people are scared!
            “Careful!” someone randomly yelled out as I moved to sit on a totally stable bench to dig my cell phone out of my backpack.
            “I would skate right off the dock, don’t do that!” laughed someone else as I rolled by.
            “Don’t fall!” cautioned another, as he shifted his weight from side to side, hands raised in alarm, as if I were about to fall at any moment.
              For the record, I did not fall that day – not once. And you know what I think about caution? It’s a word that I cannot understand!
            I mean, look. I understand that these strangers are trying to be nice, that they care. They could go tell me to suck it as I rolled past. So, yeah, thanks. I smile. But honestly I’m smiling in spite of these random people. I am really smiling because roller skating is super-fun!
            I saw my friend Malik downtown, busking and doing pretty darn well at getting people to honor his guitar-playing skills with some singles and even a few fivers. Go Malik! So I skated in circles, listening to him and waimalikting until his song was finished so we could hug and chat it up for a minute. He was set up in the middle of an art show, which was pretty savvy and filled with lookey-loos ready to drop some coin. Malik is a smart guy.
            Suddenly, a woman interrupted us and said to me, “OK, I’m really starting to get nervous now.”
            I looked at her, confused.
           “You are very close to my booth,” she said, putting her hands up on her standing art board walls.
           “Oh, was I touching your booth?” I asked, very much aware that I was not within a solid two feet of her booth.
           “No, but it is not sturdy,” she said, suddenly holding on to it as if it were about to fall at any second. She was wearing an om necklace,     which was nice. There was a worried crease in her forehead.
           “Well, I’m about to leave. Would that make you calmer?” I asked. “If I went away, all your fears would be gone, right?”
           She smiled and relaxed for a second. “Wouldn’t that be great, if that would happen?” she said.
           “Well it is going to happen,” I proclaimed, wheeling slowing in place. “I am going to leave, and all your fears will go away. You will have nothing to worry about, ever again.”
           And she smiled, and I turned to Malik and told him that I had to bolt in order to relieve this woman’s fears, and off I went.
           Really? Is life really that scary? I don’t think so.
fear          Do people think I need to be reminded about the bad that could happen in my life? Of course I have fallen before on my skates. I have a heart-shaped scar on my elbow. I hear this is a solid product. Did I ever show you my scars on my knees from when I was 6 and rode my Big Wheel without shoes? I know! I was THIS CLOSE to that knee modeling contract.
         I mean, honestly people, it’s OK. It’s but a flesh wound!
        So, I mentioned that my boyfriend rides inline skates. He’s certainly a better skater than I am, but I’ve never seen anyone tell him to be careful. And come on, he’s totally grinding sides of benches and things. He is more likely to be really injured at this extremely fun activity, not me. I’m all 8 wheels on the ground, except when I’m not.
          I think all this worry is actually just old-fashioned sexism. Like: “Oh, you foolish girl. You sure are cute on those skates but I think you are dumb and have no idea what you are doing. So you need to be stopped and warned before you hurt yourself, because you’ll be so helpless when you do that you will bother me into helping.”
          My grandmother was a notorious worrywart. She would warn you about walking down the stairs in flip flops or putting in an earring – things that were worthy of an eye roll. But I loved her, and she had a very sheltered life. Maybe she and everyone I encountered on skates would probably have preferred that I were safe and sound at home. Maybe barefoot (and pregnant) too?
         Well, news flash: I own these skates and I’ve got health insurance! Thanks Obama! So I’m ready to roll. Who’s with me? Come on, are ya scared!?

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