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The Elderly » Being old while being cool

So your son/daughter is a freaking little shred-head, huh? Cool!
How about you?

Don't you want to try it? Looks like fun. You know you want to.
So, what's stopping you?

A couple of possibilities:

  • You're a dork
  • The kids will laugh
  • You lack the nerve

Luckily, these are all eminently curable afflictions.

If you're a mini-van driving, "Soccer Mom" or over zealous "Little League Dad", just cut the crap! Put an end to it. You know that's not a healthy way to travel through life. The older you get, the more uptight people you will encounter who feel they have to follow artificial guidelines of acceptable behavior. Forget them! They are boring and always will be.

Getting Started

The key is to laugh at yourself. Kids know you are old. They know you suck and they won't hesitate to tell you all about both these attributes. Here's where you need to adjust your attitude. The local kids can tell you more about riding than anyone else in your current social circle - presumably. Most of the local kids are way cooler than you will ever be. Accept this, get over it and just enjoy yourself. If you seem to be having fun, the local sk8 crew will adopt you and help you out. If you are angry and frustrated, they will make fun of you and go to great lengths to make you miserable. In this scenario - the kids always win! Trust me!

You may be a wiz on Wall Street, own property in France or drive a BMW. No one Cares! Least of all sk8 rats. Leave your BS back at the house - you're here to sk8 and have fun. And the first step is to really try skating. Don't be nervous. Forget that you feel out of place. Feel the board vibrate beneath your feet. Feel the vibration disappear as you roll onto the smooth surface of a ramp.

Absorb the Culture

So after you leave your sushi eating, financial-wizard attitude behind, don't expect to walk into the local SK8 park and be loved by the locals. To them, you are still an outsider who has to prove themselves. Proving yourself is what will get you the help you need. But you can stack the deck in your favor.

Skate boarding is an individual sport, but more importantly, it's counter-culture. It's disorganized, random and unconventional. Learn this. Know this. Once you adopt this concept, you'll nolonger have to race home at 5:00pm to cook dinner. Anyone who needs to eat can go to McDonald's like the rest of the world!

Go to your local bookstore or magazine stand and buy EVERY skate mag on the shelf. I'd recommend Borders or Barnes& Noble as they have a large selection of mags, although any place will do. This project may entail spending $20, but I suspect you can swing the expense.

Pour over all the articles and the advertisements. This will slowly clue you in to the culture behind skating. Let your mind go. Don't overanalyze. Absorb the jist of things. And Check out the online mags as well!
Quickly you will get a feel for SK8 culture.

If you haven't torn your hair out yelling at your kids to stop skating in the house, then you may not have been "up close" to serious sk8 action. Here's a good solution: just as you now have a stack of new skate mags sitting nearby - rember your $20 pillgramage to the bookstore - go buy a skate video or two. You might get hooked and buy five or six. If you have a DVD player forget the VHS copies. You'll want to play em over and over. DVD makes this easier.

On these videos you will witness tricks that defy gravity and imagination. Most skaters are unable to do the majority of these tricks. You will be no different. If you practice you will get better, but for now, these videos will give you insight into the elusive culture of the skate rat.

Suit Up

So, you're stoked to skate and your attitude is checked.
Let's examine a critical physiological difference between you and local kids.
You are old, they are not.
They can recover from a slam, you will not.

You will quickly find your knees to be your achilles heel. They don't bend as well as they used to and slamming them will leave you in a pile of self pity when a spill takes you out for the season.

You'd make your kids wear pads - you should too!!

You don't have to face the world looking like the Michellan Tire Man, but a few precautions go a long way. Most reputable parks will require you to wear a helmet. It's a hassle, but preferable to landing your bare head on concrete. While you're at it, knee pads are your friends as well. As I mentioned, you're not as young and indestructible as you once were. Protect those old bones!

Since you're not a starving kid and probably have the cash, why not outfit yourself from head-to-toe? Beats the carnage of a slam. Without a doubt, you should have a helmet and knee pads. The benefit of elbow pads will arise when you fall on a ramp. While you're at it, get wrist guards too. This may seem like overkill, but you'll appreciate those pads when your board shoots out from under you and you fall to the ground with a great "THUD"! wearing pads will allow you to just get up rather than spend $300 on an ambulance ride to the local ER.

And while contemplating your appearance, lets just assume that you dress like an idiot. That's an easier baseline from which to begin. Most adults have a skewed sense of "what looks good" in the clothing arena. Plaid is not good - at least none that you currently own. Flipping through those SK8 magazines should give you some sense of style. NO, skating is not about fashion, but most adults will think nothing of wearing socks and sandals - or socks that go up their thighs. Try a t-shirt and shorts - lest the kids rip you a new one about your "golf attire".

Equipment

This may have occured to you, but at some point you'll need a skate board.
It makes the sport a lot more fun. Trust me.

Before we get into the specifics, this is the most important thing about buying your skate board:
I'm sure you have seen boards for sale in toy stores.
I'll say it once - They suck!

Ok, it's very important - so I'll say it again: Toy store boards suck!

The components are cheap and will break quickly - also known as a safety hazzard. Some people will argue that a cheap board involves a smaller investment and will give you the opportunity to see if you really like skating. Trust me - you will like it, but you'll like it more if your board doesn't blow. The last thing you want is a cheap board breaking at an inopportune moment... sending you hurdling toward certain pain. Make the investment in good equipment at a local sk8 shop or mailorder company.

What to Buy

The toy store board comes pre-assembled to suck and cause great agony and pain. Your local sk8 shop will likely stock all the components you need and can give you recommendations. They will also assemble the board for you. You should let a qualified technician (yeah, I use the term loosely) assemble your first board. Once you are more familiar with the set-up, you can do it yourself. It's addictive - you WILL buy another board soon!

Here are the parts you'll need:

Deck - Hopefully this is the only wooden component to your set up. Yep, this is the flat thing you stand on... get it? Find a graphic you like and then stand on the board. Don't be afraid to do this. It is important to make sure it feels comfortable and is the right width for you. There are not a lot of variations on width or length, but you want a comfortable stance without your feet hanging over the edge.

Trucks - You will need two of these... you'll figure out why quite quickly. They support the axles for your wheels and attach to the bottom of the deck via pre-drilled holes. Everyone has their own preference for their favorite truck (I prefer Independent), but the choice is yours.

Riser Pads - These attach between the truck and the deck. They are optional. Some like them to add height to the board, I use them to absorb vibration that comes from rough pavement. Your choice.

Wheels - Four of these will be a good start. Wheels are important, don't get "just anything". They come in a variety of sizes and durometers. Larger wheels are faster and roll over rough terrain much easier than a small wheel. Durometer is the "softness" or "hardness" of the wheel itself. Yo will notice the difference if you dig your fingernail into the edge of different wheels.
Softer wheels will grip better, but are slower than hard wheels. I prefer a large, soft wheel for street skating and a harder, smaller wheel for ramps.

Bearings - When you buy a set of urathane wheels, they do not come with bearings. In other words, if you put the wheels on your trucks and do not use bearings... well, you'll fall down often.
Bearing come in a standard size that easily snap into any wheel you choose. They are rated for speed - expensive ones being faster. For your initial setup, you won't notice much difference. Most $15 bearings will do.

Grip Tape - Usually black and stuck to the top of your board. It creates a surface that will grip your shoes better than the bare wooden deck.

Learn to Ride

Put on your pads and hit the street. Really! Do it!

You can start out in the driveway (or any flat surface) and screw around. Have fun. Get comfortable on the board and don't be afraid to fall. A few good slams will build your courage. You'll need pleanty of courage when you hit the SK8 park.

Social Interaction

You're almost ready. Lets review a few details.
You've bought a board and pads. You've been brushing up on SK8 culture. Your pads feel very natural now. And the feeling of that board under your feet makes you horny.

The last step is social interaction with the youth. When in doubt, seek the wisdom of Highlights and ask yourself, "What would Goofus do?" - The logic may seem a bit twisted, but remember that Gallant was a pussy who was probably beaten up regularly. All the cool kids followed Goofus and you should too!

Here are some Do's and DON'Ts:

  • DO:
  • Always inquire about the kind of equipment someone has.
    "Those are cool trucks, how long have you been riding them?"
  • You can always ask someone where they bought something.
    "I like your backpack, where'd you buy it?"
  • LOOK before entering an area or ramp.
  • Act tough.
  • DON'T:
  • Never use slang you've overheard, but don't quite understand.
    "I like your wheelz, they're phat!"
  • Never make absurd fashion statements or compliments.
    "That's a great shirt! Is that your favorite color?"
  • Don't be a spaz and just roll into the skate park with a dumb smile on your face.
  • Don't be a pussy! Do it like ya mean it!

Have fun and enjoy yourself... you only get old once!

An elderly man skating

If he can skate, you can too!

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