The other day I was bragging on the heartwarming comment a former student posted on my guestbook. Well, sometimes you don’t throw the life preserver quite far enough.

After my skate today, I was stopping in at my local emporium for some liquid refreshment, and I had to maneuver around a rather unsavory (at first glance) pair, discussing their possible 40 ounce beverage choices.

I worked in a beverage establishment like this for many years, so I am familiar with these types of conversations. They revolve around the central question of finding the most bang for the buck, and do we have enough bucks for the bang desired.

But one of this pair obviously had more taste than the usual clientele in this market.

“I ain’t drinking that $#*%.”

At this point in the conversation, I skate past.

“Look out. Sorry. Whoa. Wait! Hey Mr. Coward!”

This is from the one who ain’t drinking that $#*%.

D’oh. Yes. I now do recognize her, though it’s been about 10+ years.

She nudges her sidekick.

“This guy was my seventh grade English teacher.” To me: “How are you doing? You’re still skating? That’s so great!”

And now she’s stooping over checking out my skates, as I stand at the counter and the owner-guy watches the show bemusedly. His newest employee, BTW, was also a former student.

“Uh hummm. Old school Rollerblades. Ain’t seen those in awhile. But nice wheels, where do you get your wheels?”

“Umm. Inline Warehouse. I hafta replace wheels every two weeks, but…”

“Yeah? That’s where I get mine. You know Joe?”


By now, I’m almost ready to roll on, and she looks into my face and says,

“You know, you’re looking real good. You haven’t changed a bit. No really.”

(I get that a lot. Good genes. My gramma is 100.)

“Thank you. Ummm… what are you doing these days?” I didn’t bring up that she was one of those ones I refer to when I talk about “the smartest kid to fail my class.”

“Oh. This and that.”

I didn’t say it out loud because she seemed genuinely glad to see me, but what I wanted to say was,

“You were in the X-Games once…and now what? You’re scrounging for a 40?”

Yes, back in the day (when inline was still cool enough to be in the X-Games; it has long ago been axed from the extreme wheeled sports competition), that cocky, little seventh grader competed on tv in front of millions, in the women’s inline vert category. Her dad had groomed her, and encouraged her, and made excuses for her, and she was going to be a star. He (they) knew that careers like this were short-lived, so they wanted to go for it. You can always go to school later, but this is NOW.

We’re just starting research now, and it just so happens that the research project was one of the reasons she didn’t exactly pass. Her backup career plan was to be a photographer, so that was her topic. Only it never quite got finished, even after extensions and excuses.

Skating was always more important.

(Actually, when there’s a faculty meeting or some such obligation on the schedule. I pretty much feel the same way.)

Somehow I don’t think there’s a lot of photography going on these days.


At least she approved of my skates. And it sounded like she was still skating.

But still…sigh.