Saturday, December 3, 2011

Skateboarding in the 80's - The Lone Skater-Chick

I've been noticing that I grew up in the right generation; the X-Generation of the 1980's.  This was a time where the laws of wearing a helmet, elbow and knee pads were something that our parents asked us to wear, but if we didn't, well, that was really our choice.  No police pulled us up, there were no fines, there was no big thing that was forcing us to stop and think about the consequences.  
When I was young, I wore the helmet when I roller skated, but the consequences of that was that every time I did, I looked like and felt like a dork, other kids would skate by and rap on it hard and laugh calling me names.  Then, one day while my year 7 class was doing the Wednesday afternoon sports of roller skating, I had the other kids knocking on my helmet when I stopped at the edge and pulled the damned thing off and threw it in frustration.  The owner shook his head as he picked it up and noticed that it was one of the first stack-hats that had been on sale in the 1980's. This thing was indestructible.  I took off and kept on skating; but the kids kept on knocking on my head; even without the helmet.  Idiots; they didn't know something about me that day... they didn't know I was a skateboarder, and I wasn't about to tell them.  That would have made them laugh and tease more.
As I picked up my skateboarding - and roller skating took a backseat - I didn't wear pads or a helmet.  It just wasn't the done thing while taking off down the footpaths of Logan City in the late-80's.  If I stacked it, I stacked it... skin came off, I'd bleed and I'd have scars; so what?  Scars were cool.  
However, being the only female skateboarder was harder than I first thought.  There was another for a few years, but she took up netball and left the skateboard at home; and I was on my own again.  But being the only female skater was lonely; I didn't have that many friends in that arena as the guys didn't like me taking up their sport and their girlfriends thought I was a slut (which I corrected them immediately on that one; scaring them into making an apology to me).
I found I wasn't allowed near any bowls or skate parks (not that there were many around then anyway); so I took up Freestyle - which is where you travel the streets getting from A to B; using the board as transport.
I skated for years - about a decade - and I totally enjoyed every minute of it.  Over that decade, I had one major stack down at Brunswick Heads where the trucks on my board were loose and I took skin off my chin, left shoulder, wrist and the knees; and I had a pebble stuck in my right hand (leaving a hole there once I pulled it out).  It was the first day of the school holidays and I also had a 2ltr carton of milk under my arm which lost its label; but the used by date was still intact.  When I sat up and looked around, I found everyone staring at me and the owner of the caravan park's daughter laughing at me.  I got up, grabbed my board and walked off.  It wasn't until later, after Mum accidentally put a bit of rubbing alcohol on my chin (and made me scream so loud my brother came running!) that I realised I had been wearing my only pair of glasses... these were to read, see:  prescription glasses.  And you can only imagine that I was the last person in that caravan park that night to have a shower!  It was around midnight when I went to the showers with Mum and put up with the hot water against my wounds.  And I still have the white patches on my knees to show where I stacked it all these years later; however my chin has recovered by the number of freckles that have covered that one up.
In 1996, I had to give up skateboarding for something quite unexpected.  I had to get a melanoma taken out of the back of my left thigh; not an experience I wish on anyone.  It was a massive operation and the cancer could have killed me if it had been left any longer.  However, I have been fortunate enough to not have another show up anywhere else.  After I found I couldn't stay on a skateboard, I took up roller blading... I just couldn't stay away from the feeling an extreme sport gave me.  I bladed along Southbank and the Kangaroo Point Cliffs, then back to QPAC and back to Dock Street once a week for some years until I stopped driving.  I couldn't find a place to blade after that... there wasn't anywhere I could go, so I have my blades in storage with the pads waiting to be use again.  
However, I haven't lost my passion for skateboarding.  A few years back, I saw a young skater attempting to do an Ollie (an on-board jump) and he kept on falling off.  So, seeing I had some time on my hands, I walked over to him and watched what he was doing (and also he was in my unit complex carpark; so why not?).  I saw that his technique was all wrong and so I thought to advise him about how to land, his balance and his core muscles.  He did as I advised and his Ollie worked on his next jump!  He was thrilled!  So was I.  I asked him if I could have a go... and he said yeah thinking I was going to sit down on it and push myself along (like most girls do).  Instead, I jumped on it and skated around the complex like I used to.  It felt great to feel the board under my feet again... I hadn't skated in a long time and it was wonderful!  By the time I did a loop and stopped about 10 metres from where the young skater was waiting for me, I thought to do a few 360's and see if I could still get it where the pivot didn't touch the ground; but I had lost a lot of form.  Damn... anyway, I looked up and saw the kid with his phone and he looked like he had photographed me and was sending it to somebody (this had just come on a cheaper and easier way on mobiles).  I had been out of the skating circuit for so long, I couldn't think of who he had sent it to so I panicked a bit and skated up to him as his phone rang and he smiled picking it up.  He had a conversation with somebody saying: "Yeah, she's here." and handed me the phone saying it was for me.  On the other end was a fellow, skater from the 1980's who had known my brother and me - Gator - who had wondered where I vanished to in the mid-90's.  I had to tell him what happened and that what happened was just a fluke.  Gator has been keeping a database of all the older skaters so he can keep track of them all.  Cool, eh?
Well, since then, I've had two other times when younger skaters have recognised me; but it's becoming fewer now.  I think it's because there's so many girls on boards now that I'm not that much of a legend, not that new anymore.  But when I look back on how hard it was when I started out, I found that it was a very lonely life to be the only female skater here in Logan City... but I did have a lot of fun while doing it.

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