I got me a case of the itches.
In proper diagnostic terms, I’m suffering withdraws.
I often blade before and after work about four times a week. However, I made the rookie mistake of leaving the skates at my girlfriend’s apartment and I haven’t had them on in five days.
My palms are sweaty, my legs are restless, and I’m having flashbacks of when this horrible addiction started.
When I started skating, there was a bike/exercise equipment/hockey/skate shop called Bring’s Cycling & Fitness in lovely Wisconsin Rapids. This was 1996 and I was sheltered as fuck when it came to anything outside Catholic school, the Eycylopedia Britannica (Yeah Mom and Dad for giving a shit about knowledge!), and looking for boobs in National Geographic.
Besides the Extreme Games, Hoax II, and In-Line Skater Magazine, my buddy Corey and I didn’t know jack shit about blading other than it was a good excuse to wander around town causing trouble.
If you’re wondering how long ago I became addicted to this drug, I’ll put it this way…
I bought Daily Bread at my local bookstore.
Daily Bread is gone and your children probably won’t ever set foot into a bookstore. Both are sad facts I cry myself to sleep to daily.
Bring’s, to Rapids skating in the mid-90s, was the mecca staffed by messiahs. It was there we learned that wax made curbs slide and two weeks later we were selling own brand of wax. Once we figured that out, we skated around town and hovered around the shop as much as we could.
For a period of about six months, we were “sponsored” in that we could buy skating gear at cost. We thought the hook-up was fattier than the K2s we bought with the discount.
And you and I both know there’s no better feeling that when your drug dealer starts hooking you up.
Every skate shop is essentially—or at least should be, if there’s any good left in this world—every blader’s first drug dealer.
Oh, they have the good stuff: skates with grind plates, your first pair of antirocker wheels, overly baggy pants with a stripe down the side, and shirts with knives on them.
You want the cool stuff like the guys on ESPN, MTV, and VG? Oh, they’ll get it for you, but you gotta pay. Since you’re young, dumb, and hooked on that sweet, sweet candy, you’ll probably get some job like pushing carts and cleaning bathrooms at Wal-Mart to pay for it along with the latest 311 and Biohazard CDs from the mall.
Like a lab rat hitting the feeder bar to get a food pellet, you’ll cash your hard earned money and run screaming until you’re given gear that only deals in pleasure and pain, with little in the middle.
They’ll sell you the comb for your back pocket and the lanyard for your keys. They won’t stop until your life is a series of stories that only other junkies can share.
They know all this because they see you feening for more. They know you always want one more. One more try. One more freebie. One more sesh.
They also know about the last time you went too far and got lost in the typical delusions of grandeur, a common side effect of their tarry black death.
The kind you want so badly that you don’t understand how people can enjoy anything outside of it.
And they know you want it all so badly. You like the way the first taste made you feel. It made everything else go away long enough you could breathe and feel alive. Sure, it’ll leave you with sores, scabs, scars, bad joints, and other signs of premature aging, but you can’t stop. None of us can.
We know the risks and continue using because we were hooked young and experienced freedom of the mind in the process.
It’ll get so intense you’ll see it everywhere.
Where normal people see normal people enjoying a lovely park plaza, you and your dirty junkie mind will only see lines, rails, caps, and gaps.
Even at church you’ll be thinking about porn stars. In your one tract mind, Senate will only be the legal authority you’ll ever recognize. Before you know it, you’ll cowboy up and grind rough while dropping acids on the sidewalk during a sunny day or cloudy night.
Hell, the obsession and addiction might even land you in jail or at least with a ticket in hand to the point it’ll torque the soul off your training wheels. But don’t worry, your case always ends in a mistrial.
It’ll be so bad you’re drug slang is the only reason anyone says “Fahrvergnügen” anymore, but the younger generation of junkies will call it simply “farv.”
But grab yourself a Royale with Cheese and a Rocket Pop, suck down a pint of stale Japan, smoke some Kind, and Liu Khang kick backslide on down to good ol’ Mizzou while Toe rolls on mute.
Admit it. You’re a junkie, baby.
If you don’t think you’re hooked, realize that, like a junkie, the second one dealer rips you off, you go right into the arms of another, hoping this time it’ll be different.
So here’s to you, skate shops. Thanks for peddling that smack. Sure, the quality of the product waxes and wanes, but we’d rather taste the sour than under-appreciate the sweet.
Here’s to the shops that run a good business and think of the customers and share with us—instead of shaming us—a collection of junkie track line-like markings on our skin, deteriorating health, and empty wallets.
Here’s to the men and women that take those cute little kids with their hopes and dreams and turn them into withering bags of garbage laid out on the curb on a humid New Orleans afternoon.
Even after the war on the drugs you peddle are declared victorious with a single banner claiming victory, the battles for the hearts and minds of the impressionable will wage on in the streets and neighborhoods believed to be immune from your addictive presence.
Thanks, Bring’s, which stands as a flag-waving beacon of hope in my hometown. Me and my fellow junkies salute you.
By the way, they still have unsold—as in never sold from when they were originally purchased from the manufacturer—Senate Nuts & Bolts, Arlo Senate Pros (the ones with the cat pooping) in original mock VHS tape packaging, and some 976 shorts in the color of homeless junkie poop on the sidewalk in my neighborhood.
They are the last unmolested artifacts of a childhood gone and may they forever rest on the hangers and in the glass cases of Bring’s for eternity.
Or at least until they go on sale. I stopped holding my breath after 15 years.
Blade or Die,
— Brian Krans
P.S. — Wrote books… chasing the dream… order… click in this general vicinity….don’t do drugs… if you can’t handle them.