Young skaters rekindle happy memories of battered boots
TWO tiny faces beamed up at me - and not for the first time that evening, I felt like the Grinch.
"We don't have many sizes left," I warned the elfin pair. "But these might fit."
Two pairs of roller skates - and certainly not straight out of Santa's workshop.
In fact, I'd wager they hadn't seen any workshop for a few decades. And your average lump of coal comes in a cleaner state.
Ageing leather was eaten away, laces frayed, once-orange wheels now a brightish shade of grey.
I would have thought twice dipping a toe in, but if this darling duo had doubts, they weren't letting on.
They seized the ratty skates with both hands, and skipped off. And I took a good hard look.
A combination of over-wrought parents and over-the-top plastic toy stores had always put me in the tut-tutting "kids these days" camp.
"Why can't they just climb trees?" I'd wheeze at no-one in particular. Then catch myself before grey hairs started sprouting, and the obvious next line, "In MY day…"
And in my day, I realised, the novelty of a knocked-around second-hand pair of roller skates had me doing euphoric and endless laps of a small concrete circuit in my driveway.
Almost exactly like the 100-odd chaos-causing kids at the PCYC.
Their goofy smiles of sheer delight were suddenly familiar, because I could feel one creeping across my smacker, too.
The alarming sight - and worsening smell - of ancient skates couldn't undermine the thrill of the chance to do something different.
And despite many big stacks, they came back beaming.
"Nice work out there," I winked as they handed me the monstrosities at the end of the night. "I didn't see you fall over once!"
A teammate nudged me. "Encouraging our future talent?" she teased.
I glared, taking a desperate grab at my tough-girl credibility.
"I'm saying that to all of them," I defended. "Crazy kids."
What could be crazier, really, than finding a strange new challenge and throwing yourself in beaming, battered boots and all?