Friday, August 03, 2007


Postcard from Anna Mockler, USA followed by Matt Brigg's comment below:
He took me to the skating rink. From outside the rink was cinder block barracks. When we paid we could hear the throbbing disco from inside, the distant grind of wheels on the polished wood floor. This was an era before in-line skates. Everyone wore roller-skates. They wore fussy old men shoes attached to a metal plate with huge rubber wheels. Practiced skaters could skate as well as a swallow could fly. We would rent our skates, and then he would strap his on. He leaned over to tighten my shoes, "You'll get it," he said. To the sound of brothers Gibb--a music my father normally avoided--he zipped under the disco ball and seemed to hover.
We came infrequently enough I never learned any degree of comfort with the skates. I struggled out onto the floor, keeping to the margins, so I wouldn't slow anyone down. I clung to the shag carpet walls placed helpfully for neopyhytes like me. Eventually after struggling around the rink two or three times in the dark, I began to experiment with leaving the wall and rolling. I kept my body bent down, and then a foot would start to move forward and leave the other one in place. I pinwheeled to keep myself up. I tried to roll and then my feet kept going and left my body behind, and I slammed into the ground. Just as I started to gain a degree of confidence, couples skating or fast skate, would come onto the board. I would have to make my way to the benches under the rattling glow of the video game machines. During couples skating my father would sit with me. During fast skate, my father would race around the track.
He took me to a field once to practice cartwheels. He said he once saw a man who could cartwheel for miles. He just rolled and rolled and rolled like someone had taken him and hurled him across the ground.
We practiced on the damp grass, planting our hands in the long grass and then found our bodies curled and heavy above us where we collapsed. Finally after sweating and getting grass stains on my knees, I managed to do a single cartwheel. Frustrated my father found a grassy hill and we rolled down it.
My father's favorite song was by the Beatles, "Flying" from the Magical Mystery Tour LP. We went to see Superman the Movie on the opening weekend because my father wanted me to see him flying. My father liked the movie but didn't like the fly, "How does he fly? If he was just incredibly strong, he would really be jumping. But, he flies--defying gravity and somehow able to generate not only propulsion but the ability to navigate? Does he have rudders in his boots?"
"It's just a story, Dad," I said.
"But it is flying," my father said. "Everyone wants to jump into the air and fly. This is why everyone loves Superman. He can fly."
"There are airplanes," I said. "There are gliders."
"But the machine is flying," Dad said. "You are just along for the ride. Wings and an engine do the work."

4 Comments:

Blogger MattBriggs said...

He took me to the skating rink. From outside the rink was a cinderblock barracks. When we paid we could hear the throbbing disco from inside, the distant grind of wheels on the polished wood floor. This was an era before in-line skates. Everyone wore roller-skates. They wore fussy old men shoes attached to a metal plate with huge rubber wheels. Practiced skaters floated just above the surface of the hard and polished floor, scuffed with the marks where people who had lost it. My father could skate as well as a swallow could fly. We would rent our skates, and then he would strap his on. He leaned over to tighten my shoes. "You'll get it," he said. To the sound of the brothers Gibb -- a music my father normally avoided -- he zipped under the disco ball and seemed to hover.

We came infrequently enough I never learned any degree of comfort with the skates. I struggled out onto the floor, keeping to the margins, so I wouldn't slow anyone down. I clung to the shag carpet walls placed helpfully for neophytes like me. Eventually after struggling around the rink two or three times in the dark, I began to experiment with leaving the wall and rolling. I kept my body bent down, and then a foot would start to move forward and leave the other one in place. I pin wheeled to keep myself up. I tried to roll and then my feet kept going and left my body behind, and I slammed into the ground. Just as I started to gain a degree of confidence, couples skating or fast skate would come onto the board. I would have to make my way to the benches under the rattling glow of the video game machines. During couples skating my father would sit with me. During fast skate, my father would race around the track.
He took me to a field once to practice cartwheels. He said he once saw a man who could cartwheel for miles. He just rolled and rolled and rolled like someone had taken him and hurled him across the ground.

We practiced on the damp grass, planting our hands in the long grass and then found our bodies curled and heavy above us where we collapsed. Finally after sweating and getting grass stains my knees, I managed to do a single cartwheel. Frustrated my father found a grassy hill and we rolled down it.
My father's favorite song was by the Beatle's, "Flying" from the Magical Mystery Tour LP. We went to see Superman the Movie on the opening weekend because my father wanted to see him flying. My father liked the movie but didn't like the fly. "How does he fly? If he was just incredibly strong, he would really be jumping. But, he flies -- defying gravity and somehow able to generate not only propulsion but the ability to navigate? Does he have rudders in his boots?"
"It's just a story, Dad," I said.
"But it is flying," my father said. "Everyone wants to jump into the air and fly. This is why everyone loves Superman. He can fly."
"There are airplanes," I said. "There are gliders."

"But the machine is flying," Dad said. "You are just along for the ride. Wings and an engine do the work."

10:45 PM  
Blogger Gail D. Whitter said...

Hey Matt Briggs

Very cool. Drop me an email so I can include you and your piece in Parade.

9:45 AM  
Blogger Gail D. Whitter said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

a reminder to not kiss any frogs ... good piece.

8:29 PM  

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