DOORS AND BRIDGES are constructed from flat, sturdy, pieces of wood. They unlock secrets, provide sight to the unseen, and take you from one world to the next. Take that wooden plank and bolt it to 4 polyurethane wheels, and you’ve got your own portable adventure.
My first skateboard was some hot-pink monstrosity my mom picked up for my brothers and I back in the early ‘80s (before bubblegum music videos featured the token skateboarder with the crooked cap, Zoo York was sold at Macy’s, and before Tony Hawk was flippin’ cheese-smothered bagels). We never asked for a skateboard – I was too busy rubbing the Autobot sticker on my Transformer – and we were oblivious to any pop-culture references to skater dude-ism. Unfortunately, my brothers and I stripped that board of its integrity, butt-boarding down the driveway at breakneck speeds, using it as a seat during backyard games, and eventually, as just another obstacle for Snake Eyes to climb over.
Eventually, that skateboard reincarnated its way back to me in the 7th grade – when Danny Miller asked me if I ever skated. Of course, I replied (albeit on my butt down long driveways). I ran home with his California Cheap Skates catalog, and ordered my first Acme “Classic” deck with 40mm wheels and Venture Featherlite trucks on my mom’s credit card. She was confused at the triple-digit price tag (“It doesn’t cost that much at Sportmart!”). I was delighted and didn’t sleep a wink that night.
The first week was aggravating, to say the least. I could pedal, coast down sidewalks, and even kick that whole Marty McFly pop-up thing when I stopped. But when Danny asked me how high I could bust a 50-50, I looked at him blankly and quietly responded, “Uhh…what’s a 50-50?”
With time, those questions went from “How should I ollie into this tailslide?” to “Who drew the graphics on that skateboard? (Pushead!)” to “Where’d you get pants that big? What’s a turntable? What’s a bong? Who’s Minor Threat?” Plenty of questions, and answers were open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. True, it was adolescence, not too much unlike Johnny American’s teenage years on the ol’ football field, or Susie Thompkins’ pom-pom-filled high-school escapades. But my answers weren’t coming from Coach Carter or MTV. My parents were clueless, my teachers were frustrated, and pretty much anyone over the age of 20 could swallow a big fat middle finger. I was a pissed-off youth, I was different, and the only answers to life’s toughest questions were coming from that streamlined concave plywood – my tree of knowledge, my mobile soapbox, my grip-taped confessional.