There’s a certain type of woman who likes a man on a skateboard. Specifically, me when I was 13. My friends and I used to hang out at the Sail Yards, a huge skatepark in the middle of Melbourne’s CBD that’s since been replaced by a huge shopping complex to watch the boys skate. We’d spend our Saturdays and school holidays there, sipping McDonald’s chocolate thick shakes and sitting on our own skateboards while we watched the boys rise and dip, alley-poop and dunkaroo–whatever the tricks are called.
There was one boy in particular I always hoped to see there, a floppy haired blonde with a tan face and green eyes called Cadence. In my turquoise flared corduroy pants, purple self-tie dyed t-shirt and matching purple Dr. Martens with custom rainbow laces, I’d sit my butt on the concrete with my skateboard under my feet, pushing it side to side and and swooning. I’d write Cadence notes on little torn up pieces of paper, and he’d write back in an almost illegible scrawl that my friends and I would sit for hours deciphering.
When I eventually grew out of thinking I was Gwen Stefani, I stopped going to the Sail Yards, and I didn’t see Cadence again until many years later, at a club night when I was 19. I’d noticed him across the room and thought he looked familiar, but I didn’t put it together until my friend leaned across to me giddy with excitement and shouted in my ear, “Oh my God! That’s Cadence from the Sail Yards!” He was still gorgeous–his blonde hair still lazily boyish and his sleepy green eyes, more seductive now, held their charm.
I walked right up to him and re-introduced myself. “I remember you, he said,” handing me one of the club’s finest uni night $2.50 mixed drink specials. After about 3 minutes of strained conversation and his glazed eyes darting over my shoulder at uncomfortably frequent intervals, his hand found mine, and he pulled me out of the crowd. Our faces close, he leaned in and boozily slurred, “Want to go find a quiet spot and make out like we’re 13 again?” I was about eleventy billion steps ahead of him, salivating at the mouth.
He took me, classily, into the disabled toilet at the club, where we made out like puppies sniffing each other’s butts for the first time. With people knocking madly at the door, he attempted to put his hands down my pants–which was nothing like 13 had been. “I don’t think so,” I said, gently pushing him away. “Come on, why not,” he asked, crossing his arms in front of his body. “Ah, because I don’t want to,” I spat at him, drunkenly incredulous. Was I really having this petty conversation with a grown up person? I snateched my bag off the floor of the bathroom and stormed out. I never saw him again.
Apart from the fact that I was propositioned for sex in a public bathroom, I still remember seeing Cadence all those years later quite fondly–it was a fun flashback to a first time feeling, a rare excavation of something hidden deep in the recesses of a cobweb wrapped shed along with my old skateboard. When I think about it now, I recall the sound of the clacking wheels as Cadence would shoot, effortlessly, fearlessly, down one side of the bowl and up the other.
But I’m what I call a grown ass woman now, and I think skateboards are straight up stupid. There’s an overabundance of them in my neighborhood too–grown men pushing themselves down the street, smelly-ooping and non-sexy grinding on our shared infrastructure. And my God do they look ridiculous. Maybe there’s women out there who still hanker for the magic of squinting into the sharp afternoon sun to catch a glimpse of a skater boy soaring into the air, borne by his own momentum, but I feel like those cinematic afternoons passing notes are best remembered in the tiny ecosystem of time for which they existed.
When I was a girl, I wanted nothing more than a boy who could flip himself right over mid air, clutching his skateboard against his feet and landing again like an agile cat. As an adult, I’m attracted to much more complicated, mundane, but much more valuable qualities–for instance, someone who uses sensible modes of transportation. Someone with washed hair and who doesn’t spend afternoons loitering on the block with friends and makeshift wooden ramps. Someone who hasn’t been wearing the same Nirvana t-shirt since they were 12. Someone who displays traits that are tantamount with reliability and responsibility. Not someone whose happiness hinges on the rush of cruising past idling cars at high velocity or taking racing starts to leap park benches.
Now, when grown men dodge gutters in the street before me, all I can recall is slicking my bangs forward with blue hair mascara and constructing love notes on the back of McDonald’s wrappers. I no longer crave being the groupie to the flat-footed sneaker wearing boys whose cool reads on the custom bumper stickers on the bottom of their boards. The most beautiful thing when I was a girl, 15 years later, is something of a tragedy for those lost boys, streaking down the middle of the road, unwashed, shoulder length hair whipping in the wind, moving so fast but frozen forever in time.