Tuesday, January 13, 2015

My first trip to Guptil's

I had a minor flashback to my childhood over the weekend. I grew up in southern Connecticut during a time that in-line skates didn’t exist. We had roller skates. Four wheels on each foot. I can vividly remember skating up and down our driveway with other neighborhood kids. We were leaning over, one arm behind our backs and the other arm moving in time with our feet as we were “speed skating” like Olympic champion Eric Heiden.

There were also regular after-school roller skating events in the school's gym that were fun too. I remember a roller skating version of dodgeball where all the kids kept skating around in an oval while our school principal tried to bean the students with a Nerf ball. Get hit, you're out. It was fun for the kids and probably a little therapeutic for the principal. Occasionally, there would be a trip to a roller rink in Stratford, CT. In the early 80’s that rink was packed with people, the musical was loud, and the flashing disco lights would have made John Travolta proud.

Sunday afternoon, there was a Girl Scout event at Guptil's in Latham. It was the first time I have ever been inside the rink. I’ve been there for ice cream plenty of times but never to skate. I’ve tried ice skating a few times, never tried the in-line style skates and can’t remember the last time I laced up roller skates. This experience was either going to be uneventful or extremely painful.

The skating area is pretty much exactly how it was in Connecticut back in the 80s. A big oval with a few areas to pull over and stop skating. A huge disco ball. And while they could have deafened everyone there with the speakers that they had set up, they just paid pop music at a reasonable level. There was the skate cop - a rink employee out there skating all the time making sure all was well. Kind of like a beach lifeguard. She even had a whistle and wore a Captain & Tennille style hat.

There were a lot of people just doing there best not to wipe out. But there were also all of the same stereotypes that were skating around the roller rink back in the day. There was the guy skating around in his own world with his own music blasting in his ears while he mentally went through a choreographed routine. There was a group of “cool” older teenagers whipping through the crowd faster than they should be. C’mon dude, why would you buzz by a 5 year old kid just trying not to fall? There were also parents that looked like they used to skate a lot (and maybe still do) bringing their kids. You can tell the serious roller skaters because they have their own skates that aren't plain and look like they went with a costume. And in other people watching news, one conservative local radio talk show host appears to own his own skates. The skates looked new. Maybe they were a holiday gift.

Action shots!




Remember something like this?

This is what a waiver used to look like. No signatures, no initials, no copies in triplicate.

It was a fun time. Pretty much all over these Girl Scout events are fun. In the end I was a little sore, but it was probably more from trying to keep one of my kids from falling while we skated around the rink. I’m not going to pick up skating as a hobby, but I’d go back if they have this event again. It’s a decent winter activity. And it’s winter. Very, very winter. I think today's high was yesterday's low.

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