What are you waiting for? Get in there and express yourself
Back in the early 1980s, when it was still Morning in America, instead of what we have now, which is Mourning In America, for an America that probably never was, but that I frequently find myself nostalgic for (as you probably likewise do if you’ve had a look at Divided America lately), I used to occasionally get dragged to skating rinks on school field trips. Since I lived in San Antonio, Texas, at the time, they were of the roller and not the ice variety. Which didn’t matter to me. I had trouble staying upright either way. And back then, I didn’t even drink, so a lack of sobriety was no excuse.
This was no small concern, as the object of any trip to the skating rink, as all creepy little adolescents knew at the time, was to look cool in front of the opposite sex. Or maybe to look cool in front of the same sex for some. But this was south Texas in the early ‘80s. Gay people didn’t yet exist there. And if they did, they made a point of keeping quiet about it. Even though the term “gay” enjoyed wide currency as a disparaging adjective, as employed by Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen in the 2005 film,The 40-Year-Old Virgin. A scene that if filmed today, would likely get them sent to Gitmo.
But I’m losing my own thread. We’re not talking about being gay. We’re talking about roller skating rinks in the early ‘80s, and me trying to look cool there in front of some Junior Miss Phoebe Cates, Phoebe Cates being the highest ideal of feminine beauty at the time. There was me, whipping around the rink, off-balance, in my feathered hair and my tight Jordache jeans (which come to think of it, looked pretty gay!), trying not to split my seams when I inevitably took a spill, or to puncture a kidney or pancreas or any other organ in the lower back that stood in harm’s way from being too near the sharp-handled end of the ever-present comb in my back pocket, a de rigueur ‘80s fashion accessory. (It was impossible to feather your hair with mere fingers. Believe me, I tried.)
Being sprawled on your ass after coming off your wheels in a hard turn on the high groove was not a good look. My wife, who herself was a skating-rink graceful swan, though I didn’t know her at the time (she brought her own skates with fuchsia wheels, she snobbily reports), tells me that the boys who could skate backwards were considered “dreamy,” while the guys who fell in the turns were modern-day lepers. Luckily, as a forceful-yet-sensitive lover, I found alternative ways to catch up to the backwards-skating d-bags. Though my humiliation was made complete by the fact that I went to a Christian school, where the principal paid off the skating rink DJ to not play Satan’s music. So instead of me falling to pop offerings of the day – like the J. Geils Band’s “Freeze Frame” or Night Ranger’s “Sister Christian” - I was sacrificing my body to Amy Grant jams. Even our all-seeing Lord likely had to avert his gaze out of sheer embarrassment.
All this being the long way around of saying we’re overdue for an all-skate. (If you’re too young to know what that means, ask your middle-aged mom.) Even if I keep up a semi-regular presence in my comments section – which is generally only available to paid subscribers - a reader recently reminded me that it’s been nearly a year since I extended a formal invite to allow readers to come at me with whatever’s on their mind. Be it jurisprudence matters (both Donald Trump and Hunter Biden seem to be providing a wealth of opportunities), or whatever other subject is pressing in on you –whether political, pop-cultural, spiritual, fly-fishing related, or maybe you just need Summer Fun recipes. If the latter, you probably want to hit up The Bulwark’s Jim Swift. (He is not only my old and dear friend, but a barbecue master.) But I, too, can fake it until I make it. So as Pat Benatar used to say in the ‘80s, hit me with your best shot - whatever’s on your mind - and I will try to be responsive, if a response is called for. Unless you just feel like gassing off. Though gassing off is fine, too. That’s what this is here for. And one of my thoughtful regulars will probably answer your cry for help if I don’t. The bottom line being, it’s your time to shine/fall on your ass around the high turn. At least if you’re a paid subscriber, which is the entry fee to gassing off. Let’s have intercourse! Of the conversational variety, I mean. Not the other kind of intercourse. Unless you become a $250 founding member. In which case, I’d be open to just about anything…….
And since I name-checked “Express Yourself,” here is the excellent Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band doing the song of the same name, which also became the sample for NWA’s cover. The latter of which might contain my favorite couplet of all-time: I’m expressin’ with my full capabilities/And now I’m livin’ in correctional facilities.
But please do express yourself below…….