A few weeks ago, I instituted a work stoppage of heroic proportions. It involved absolutely no one except me. I’m my own hero.
So stumblingly large were the piles of shit I had building up around me, that shoveling to freedom was really the only thing I could think to do, so I did it. I staged a walkout — out to my car. It was night and it was kind of cold and there was no press waiting to hear my words denouncing the 39-hour workweek. There would never be any press.
I drove to the skatepark. Outside it was just as dark and void of probing reporters as my house had been. Inside was a crowd, though, as I’d hoped there would be. As I knew there would be. I hunched into the building, the door closed silently behind me, and I forgot.
Like getting pounded over the head with a baseball bat, only without the pain and bleeding, walking into this room of wooden obstacles perpetually canvassed by my loose-helmeted and manic non-working companions, amnesia set in. Someday I’d tell the reporters, “I have no recollection of anything before a few minutes ago.” The levee had broken. The anvil on my forehead was removed. The Mercuratic gravity that previously had my feet shuffling under the centrifugal force of what I was supposed to be doing, somehow just faded out. I was lifted.
On this side of the darkness I witnessed a session — an honest-to-Yahweh pressure cooker — the likes of which I’ve never seen. The ramps and imitations of ramps and ramp stand-ins were all sweating from the friction. Inflamed not by overuse, but by an energy somehow channeled through and released on the small population of social picketers who’d chosen, for those few hours, to do what they weren’t supposed to be doing, too.
Hooray for the workingman who sidesteps his duties!
Invariably, such a harmonic convergence produces something of a phenomenon — a freak occurrence that once witnessed redefines everything. It becomes the reason you’re alive, the reason you wake up, the reason you don’t do dishes, pay bills, return phone calls, sweep floors. It’s the reason you so passionately and so consistently flake out and just go skateboarding.
The reporters had been asked to leave and not return. The reservations, suspicions, and obviousness of living were lost. Little leprechauns danced around ’cause they were so fucking happy.
In sessions like this you find yourself skating better — you almost can’t help it. Your feet are light and do what you tell them to. You can think of something, last second, and you’re able to realize it in the form of timing, ease, and carelessness. It’s almost perfect. More important, you don’t even care about your skateboarding. You’d just as soon sit down and watch as you would inject yourself into the middle of it all.
On that first work-free evening of the rest of our lives, one particular friend of mine was feeling the phenomenon rather acutely — not only skating up to and well beyond his own levels, but to elevations I’ve seldom seen reached at even the most pro-fueled displays of ability.
It was like he was better that he was, if you can handle that truth.
I’m deferring to the phenomenon on this one, because I’ve skated with him countless times and this evening was clearly different. He knew it, I knew it, everyone who was there, not doing what they were supposed to be doing, knew it.
Perfect jump sweepers into Mach-10 50-50s, nicely coaxed Smith grinds on the extension, then straight into some wildly carving one-footed frontside grind. Cab pivots. Airs. Long, unwavering manuals. “Fuck.” I said — everyone said — through gigantic smiles. Skating like this perpetuates skating like this, too, so the better he skated, the better everyone else skated. “It was good,” I said when speaking to the Times reporter who called to find out exactly, in my own words, what had transpired on that historic evening. “You kinda had to be there, though, even though you weren’t supposed to be.”
And the headline read:
“Idiots Can’t Explain What The Hell They’re Doing”
I’m sure you read about it. It was in all the papers.