"Skateboards, I've almost made them respectable." - Joe Jackson, "I'm The Man"
There I was, riding my bike to school as I habitually do, and I heard the steady-almost-train-like clackity-clack of wheels rolling over the seams of the sidewalk. Ahead of me was a kid on a skateboard, heading to the bus stop or school or wherever everyone else goes a that hour in the morning. It occurred to me that I was quick to assume the relative age of the person on the skateboard, since only kids ride those things. That is the thought that came from the forty-eight year-old man who was pedaling his bicycle.
I never did ride my skateboard to school. I was far too self-conscious about my abilities. I couldn't do many tricks. I didn't have the best trucks, and my wheels weren't Kryptonics. I was caught up, however briefly, in that great second wave of skateboarding, the one made possible by polyurethane. No longer did one stop short when riding over the smallest pebble, even though skateboards were still far from all-terrain vehicles. Kick kick glide, kick kick glide. I could get from my house down to my friend's at the end of the street where we would discuss bearings and tighten trucks and talk about getting more grip tape on our decks. There were a few daring tandem rides down less-travelled hills in neighborhoods relatively free of traffic. At my best, I could make long, looping turns while standing nearly straight. The nose of my board was scarred from the number of times that I bailed when I couldn't negotiate a maneuver and it bounced hard off the curb.
My son had his own brief love affair with his "stick." He wanted to be like Tony Hawk, or perhaps even his older buddy who rode his to and from school. Maybe his uncle who once relied on his skateboard as his preferred mode of transport in Los Angeles. Whatever his inspiration, his parents bought him the board he wanted, much in the same way my parents did for me, and then proceeded to watch that fire burn out just as quickly as it had started. But he's still young, and at least he's still riding his bike.