Chris Hutchins

Stuffed animals don’t bruise

When I was a kid the local skating rink was the preferred youngster hangout. I am in my 40s, and although I haven’t roller-skated in a very long time I still have it – sort of. Initially I was pretty unsteady and couldn’t shake the feeling that I would certainly crash down on my backside or worse.

I was pleased when after a few minutes I got my “wheels” back and was able to skate fairly confidently. My son takes every opportunity to compete with me and he was sorely disappointed by my skating prowess. He whined to his Mommy about how it was not fair that Daddy can skate. Such sweet satisfaction comes rarely at my age. Of course, when my wife told me what he said, I made sure to act like it was effortless. I raised my arms and contorted to the music, just showboating. I pretended I didn’t know he was watching.

This all started a few months ago when my daughter earned a reward. Usually, she gets a choice of a few different activities or a trip to “the store” where she can pick out a toy as long as it’s under $20 and not dangerous, noisy, contains 10,000 tiny parts or otherwise be a pain.

Being a girly girl of 8 years of age, she usually picks out a doll or stuffed animal but this time I encouraged her to consider alternatives. I pointed out that she already has 5.4 billion dolls and stuffed animals and she simply can’t give each one the attention it deserves. She reluctantly agreed and started trying to think outside of the box. We scoured the store for toys, until she saw the roller skates. They were cute and we had wasted enough time. Rather than shop for another eternity, I coughed up the money even though they were over budget.

I thought it would be a breeze to get her started on the carpet and then, when she was ready, we would go on the sidewalk. Problem was, even with pads on my daughter just wasn’t ready. That’s how we ended up at the skating rink. We are definitely not saving any time now.

We were having a blast until the guy my wife calls “Roll-On the Barbarian” (he was bald, unrefined, and on skates) came along.

I saw the entire thing; he was acting like an extra in the old move “Xanadu” and skating like a buffoon when he had to choose between running down a three-year- old and bumping into an adult, my wife.

When I saw her fall on her butt I was there in a heartbeat. I put myself between them and helped her back up and onto a bench. We were grateful nothing was broken.

“Roll-On” decided to come by and offer his apologies. I wanted to hurt the guy, bad. I know that isn’t right. It was an accident and it’s a skating rink, but when he had the audacity to say “I’m sorry but it really wasn’t my fault, someone changed direction.” I almost came unglued. I visualized my fists rapidly and vigorously changing direction all over his face but I restrained myself. I said “It’s a skate rink, that happens, but you’re the only one here knocking people down.”

I could tell that Damara was mad but she didn’t want me to get ugly so I stopped there. Ultimately, I suppose the whole episode was my fault. I should have let my daughter have the stuffed animal. They are so much softer than the floor at a skating rink.