There’s really nothing overt about skateboarding, other than its overt nature.
Walking through a day’s worth of hours — anywhere in the universe, it seems — it’s easy as baked goods to take notice of skateboarding’s newest personality flaw: the obvious disposition of mainstream agreement. Even at quick glance, it appears our activity has seeped into the nooks and crannies of a non-skateboarding, malled-down America who’ve accepted the “idea” of skateboarding wholeheartedly, almost obsessively some say, by buying skateboarding’s wares.
Books are different today, many agree. If you would be so kind, they are now to be judged by their covers.
Please and thank you.
Mid-80s TransWorld Skateboarding Editor, Britt Parrott, predicted this transformation more than once, asserting that the very people who ignored, deprecated, and otherwise shunned our activity would eventually embrace the dust jacket of skateboarding’s publication. “One day, you’ll all look like me,” his editorial character muttered after getting knocked down a rung for his taste in attire. And true to the prophecy, a skateboarder can go to any grocery store, any magazine rack, any Taco Bell, any bar, any country, and see lots, and lots of people they think they recognize.
Plug and play.
It’s the “one day,” Parrot spoke of, and straight from the catalog page and window display, the toe-to-top look for all seasons is decidedly skate. The guys, gals, and junior petites happily grouped together at every corner and junction are not skateboarders, though. They are the causeless protesters, and the idle abundant, chewing sugar-free, buying money-free, getting all the benefits of the name brand at generic prices, and without any of the embarrassing side effects.
But as overt and accessible as skateboarding appears as of late, it is neither. Awkwardly, it is also both.
Just because there are more kids at the movie theater in vulcanized shoes doesn’t mean anything. An appearance is just that—a process of presentation. It is not a sign that skateboarding recognizes anyone, just as it does not mean that by purchasing a predetermined product, a person is truly open or has any real admittance to being a genuine skater.
Freedom makes your hair kinda wild, it turns out.
The thing they don’t tell you at Foot Locker is that skateboarding is not open to all comers. Not everyone is welcome. Its gates swing wide only for one very specific and elite group of individuals. And really, we’re happy to say, no one else is allowed.
If, despite all that, a person decides they’d still like to be a skateboarder, they’re automatically made. They’re in. It’s that simple. Young and old, big and small, gender A, B, C, or any member of the great human experiment can join up, as it were. And there’s only one ancient rule to maintaining your membership in this exclusive club — you have to skate.
If you skateboard, you are a skateboarder. Pass it on.
On the other hand, if you don’t really want to ride a skateboard, but you’re a proud wearer of a branded beanie, then you are something else — a branded beanie wearer, I suppose — but you are not a skateboarder. Is that too overt?
Little known fact: Skaters didn’t invent the sleeveless turtleneck.
The t-shirts are right over there. Sure, we have those shoes in your size. Did you find everything you were looking for? Well, thanks for shopping. We appreciate your business.
Tell your friends we accept all major credit cards.
You mean I’m not?