The thin, blonde girl, drenched with sweat, falls into my arms yet again. I lift Hannah to her feet, trying and failing to keep my hands in the neutral territory of her stomach and the small of her back, just enough contact to reestablish her unsteady balance. She is more uneasy on her feet than a newborn deer, but woodland creatures generally do not have roller skates strapped to their feet.
"I think I just got to second base," I yell to her over the loud but bland rap booming through the speakers. She smiles and shrugs, just grateful to more or less be in a vertical position once more, if only for a moment.
Melanie and I each wrap an arm around Hannah and try to lead her around the rink. We did not realize how literally she had never skated and are so many years past her inexperience that we have trouble putting ourselves into her wheeled shoes. Her legs thrash out from under her and we manage to keep her from injuring herself too badly given the insufficiency of padding between her skin and bones.
"I'm really glad I love you two so much," Hannah says as we cling to her to keep her from cracking her skull open. "Otherwise, this might be awkward."
Hannah asks us to leave her for a minute, since she thinks she is getting the gist of how to state. She is wrong, moving her feet back and forth as quickly as she can rather than pushing off on alternate feet in a V-shape, but it is a lesson that my explanation cannot provide. She can only learn by bruising her tailbone and getting back up again and again.
"I wish I had my glasses," Melanie says as we glide around the kids at the rink.
"So I could perv on all the teenage girls."
"Pervert," I accuse with a smile.
"I acknowledged that, I said 'perv'. But I'm closer to being their age, so it's less creepy."
"Well," I respond, "I am closer to having sex with a teenage girl. So there." I state this only for the sake of argument. Teenagers in general and those populating the rink tonight don't interest me. They barely seem like the same species as me, something half-shaped and simian (especially on skates).
"Only technically. I am an old nineteen," she says and skates into the crowd so I can chase her.
We are not the oldest people skating tonight - ignoring the parents seated on orange benches, waiting for their tweens to stop doing mating dances, and the lone security guard with a hand that never leaves his taser - but we are at least five years over the average. Many people are dressed in costumes, a fact I shrug off as a celebration of Talk Like a Pirate Day (Hannah's quasi-date for the evening, Dennis, dressed up as a scallywag) until we return the following week and there is a busload of students from Vassar College in costumes. Apparently, something in this activity lends itself to cross dressing and early Halloween.
Despite having been battered, bruised and rendered sorer than she recalls being during her most strenuous exercise regime, Hannah was eager to repeat the experience. This time, she brings Daniel along. Melanie and I were prepared to stifle our laughter - if Hannah was funny thrashing about, Daniel should be hilarious dressed in black and trying to retain his dignity while learning how to move on wheels. Daniel practices for a few minutes where the floor is smooth and he is protected by a wall. When he gets onto the rink properly, be moves well enough to keep with the flow of traffic and ruin all our fun at his expense. He is not precisely elegant (neither am I and I've been rollerblading for years) but he is more than competent. Melanie and I instead turn our attention to Hannah, who is still nearly doing a split to move a few inches at a time. She's more fun to accidentally grope, anyway.
It is wonderful to have this new group of friends who love me so much that they are willing to look foolish for a chance at fun.
Soon in Xenology: Aydan. Eviction. Arrogance.