Roller Skating by Edgar Wilson Nye

Story type: Essay

I have once more tried to ride a pair of roller skates. That is the reason I got down on the rink and down on roller skates. That is the reason several people got down on me. That is also the reason why I now state in a public manner, to a lost and undone race, that unless the roller-rink is at once abolished, the whole civilized race will at once be plunged into arnica.

I had tried it once before, but had not carried my experiments to a successful termination. I made a trip around the rink last August, but was ruled out by the judges for incompetency, and advised to skate among the people who were hostile to the government of the United States, while the proprietors repaired the rink.

On the 9th of June I nestled in the bosom of a cyclone to excess, and it has required the bulk of the succeeding months for nature to glue the bone of my leg together in proper shape. That is the reason I have not given the attention to roller-skating that I should.

A few weeks ago I read what Mr. Talmage said about the great national vice. It was his opinion that, if we skated in a proper spirit, we could leave the rink each evening with our immortal souls in good shape.

Somehow it got out that on Thursday evening I would undertake the feat of skating three rounds in three hours with no protection to my scruples, for one-half the gate money, Talmage rules. So there was quite a large audience present with opera glasses. Some had umbrellas, especially on the front rows. These were worn spread, in order to ward off fragments of the rink which might become disengaged and set in motion by atmospheric disturbances.

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In obedience to a wild, Wagnerian snort from the orchestra, I came into the arena with my skates in hand. I feel perfectly at home before an audience when I have my skates in hand. It is a morbid desire to wear the skates on my feet that has always been my bete noire. Will the office boy please give me a brass check for that word so that I can get it when I go away?

My first thought, after getting myself secured to the skates, was this: “Am I in the proper frame of mind? Am I doing this in the right spirit? Am I about to skate in such a way as to lift the fog of unbelief which now envelopes a sinful world, or shall I deepen the opaque night in which my race is wrapped?”

Just then that end of the rink erupted in a manner so forthwith and so tout ensemble that I had to push it back in place with my person. I never saw anything done with less delay or less languor.

The audience went wild with enthusiasm, and I responded to the encore by writing my name in the air with my skates.

This closed the first seance, and my trainer took me in the dressing-room to attend a consultation of physicians. After the rink carpenter had jacked up the floor a little I went out again. I had no fears about my ability to perform the mechanical part assigned me, but I was still worried over the question of whether it would or would not be of lasting benefit to mankind.

Those who have closely scrutinized my frame in repose have admitted that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Students of the human frame say that they never saw such a wealth of looseness and limberness lavished upon one person. They claim that nature bestowed upon me the hinges and joints intended for a whole family, and therefore when I skate the air seems to be perfectly lurid with limbs. I presume that this is true; though I have so little leisure while skating in which to observe the method itself, the plot or animus of the thing, as it were, that my opinion would be of little value to the scientist.

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I am led to believe that the roller skate is certainly a great civilizer and a wonderful leveler of mankind. If we so skate that when the summons comes to seek our ward in the general hospital, where each shall heal his busted cuticle within the walls where rinkists squirm, we go not like the moral wreck, morally paralyzed, but like a hired man taking his medicine, and so forth–we may skate with perfect impunity, or anyone else to whom we may be properly introduced by our cook.

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