You gotta look good when you fall
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‘Are you sure?”

“Piece of cake. We’ll get right back into it. They’ll want us in Cirque du Soleil.”

With my friend Annie again. ’Cause she’s usually up for anything. Went for a winter swim in the ocean t’other day. And today it seemed like a good idea to go, well, roller-skating.

Skateworld

6907 Linda Vista Road, Linda Vista

So, nice, crisp sunny day, we meet here outside what looks like a giant Quonset hut with a sign reading “Skateworld.”

“Oh yes. This is the place they wanted to close down,” says Annie. “Put up a Big Box, last I heard.”

Callie lines up the nachos, pizza and soda and chips. Such a deal

Callie lines up the nachos, pizza and soda and chips. Such a deal

What?

“It’s a kind of cultural genocide,” says Annie. She can be dramatic, but I know exactly what she means.

“Better get in while it’s still here,” I say. So we head through the swing doors to a lobby and a line. “What’s the deal?” I ask the gent behind the glass. Hold my breath because I’m betting the use of the rink, the hiring of skates, some locker to put your stuff in, is all going to cost.

“Ten and five,” he says. “Ten dollars to get in, five for the skate rental, quad or in-line.”

“For as long as you like?”

“Long as you like.”

He smiles. “You new?”

“It’s been a while.”

Every girl wants to look like this

Every girl wants to look like this

At the skate hire counter, Callie and Nick are handing out and taking in skates. “What size?” Callie asks. “Looks like 9-1/2,” says Nick, leaning over. They pretty much nail Annie’s size too.

“Sure you want to do this?” she says. “I mean I’ve ice-skated. Just saying: watch the falls.”

Thanks for that ulp moment, but actually I’m looking at another counter. “Snack Bar,” it says. And it looks like it has more than just Twinkies. Hot stuff like pizza, nachos. I mean it’s a start, and they may have more. Consolation for the suffering to come. Because, already, these quad wheels are running away under me every time I try to tie up the laces. Annie’s having no trouble. Kids cruise around us, and their parents, and braces of teens, mostly girls in braces, cavort by, heading for the big wooden rink under these arches. Turns out this building has been echoing to kids and adults since 1954. Like, 55 years. Has maple wood floors (“easier to fall on,” one skater tells me).

He teaches people to skate. She looks after skaters when they fall

He teaches people to skate. She looks after skaters when they fall

Long and short: I wobble, and I mean WOB-BLE around the rink. Annie, dammit, soon picks up on her ice-skating experience. But even she’s holding the hand of a little girl who’s offered to be her steady-buddy. “Take your time! See ya!” Annie yells, each time they pass me by.

Of course, I hit the deck about twice each go-round. Just as well I’m a good faller. What strikes me though, is how everybody stops, hauls me back to vertical, and kind of laughs with me, not at me. Whatever, I’m rediscovering the “roller” in skates. And this is exercise! Just holding everything together and trying to move at the same time takes total concentration. A few circuits and I’m wet with sweat. Heck, did this as a kid. What happened to muscle memory?

Only thing that saves me is a whistle. They’re clearing the rink for races. Thank goodness! A moment later, I’m clinging to the snack bar like it’s flotsam from the S.S. Bedford.

“Comfort food!” I gasp.

Plenty of juice in this baby

Plenty of juice in this baby

“You’ve come to the right place, sir,” says server gal Callie. I can see I’m not the first to turn up this way. It looks like a triage station. Okay, I exaggerate. ’Course Annie now rolls up. “The man’s in shock. Give him some hot brandy,” she says. “Call the medics.”

“Excuse me! I’m fine, thank you,” I say. “What’s on the menu?”

Here’s what’s amazing: food items you normally sneer at and start ranting about, like “This is what’s Making America Fat Again!” suddenly looks like the only thing that’ll save you from an embarrassing freak-out.

The choice is cheese nachos, $6.25 with a 16-ounce soda and a bag of chips, or $4.50 a la carte. A hot dog with chips and 16-ounce soda, $4.50, a heckuva price. Pretzel with same sides, $4.95. A la carte, $3.50; turkey sandwich, $6.95 ($4.95); personal pizza, $8, (or without sides, $6). Chicken Caesar salad, $4.95; onion ring basket, $5.95; or a family meal deal (x-large pizza, pitcher of soda w/refill, 4 treats, topping), $26.95.

Or you could just go for a piece of candy, 10 cents.

Annie isn’t hungry. No probbo. I order the cheese nachos and the personal pepperoni pizza (the combo, with lemonade and a pack of Doritos’ dee-lish spicy sweet chili chips).

So Callie hauls them over to a table, being as how I’m still on wheels, and carrying a tall paper cup of soda on a tray would really be pushing it.

I know that it is totally because of the circumstances, but this tastes like the most delicious danged pizza in the world. It is hot, seriously juicy, the dough is crispy on the edges, nicely floppy under the cheese and pepperoni, and it’s small but enough. I don’t need the nachos (which are okay, but nothing to write home about). And they don’t gouge you for it! Beautiful.

From the food deals to the skating floor, you just notice this generous, non-rapacious vibe here.

In what seems like no time, I’ve wolfed most of it, and Annie’s challenging me to go back on the maple.

As I step down onto the rink, Nick looks up. “Bend knees,” he yells, “and head up! It’s the heaviest part of your body!”

  • The Place: San Diego Skateworld, in Linda Vista Plaza, 6907 Linda Vista Road, 858-560-9349
  • Hours: Monday, 12pm-8pm; Tuesday, 5pm-8pm; 8:30pm-11:30pm; Wednesday, 5pm-9pm; Thursday, 5pm-9pm; Friday, 5pm-11pm; Saturday, 10am-11pm; Sunday, 12pm-7pm; 8pm-11pm
  • Prices: Cheese nachos, $6.25 (with 16-ounce soda and bag of chips, or $4.50 a la carte); hot dog, chips,16-ounce soda, $4.50; pretzel same sides, $4.95, a la carte, $3.50; turkey sandwich, $6.95 ($4.95); personal pizza, $8, (without sides, $6); chicken Caesar salad, $4.95; onion ring basket, $5.95; family meal deal (x-large pizza, pitcher of soda w/refill, 4 treats, topping), $26.95
  • Buses: 44, 120
  • Nearest Bus Stops: Linda Vista Road and Linda Vista Plaza
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