Thursday, August 19, 2010

Derby Chronicles ...The Skate-less Sensation

It is official: I need my own skates like yesterday! The rentals available at the skating rink are just not cutting it anymore. They are subpar and limiting my roller derby success. I can't be bothered! Interesting how all of this is coming from a person who couldn't skate about a month ago.

Once upon a time, well actually just last week, I thought rentals were sufficient. I knew I needed to get my own skates. My theory was I needed to learn how to actually skate first before dropping a stack on the official gear. Sure several Alachua County Rollers mentioned how craptastic the rentals are, but I didn't really understand. Then I tried on the real deal.

My new play cousin, Gabby ­– deemed so because this Roll Bouncesque skater man thought we were related – and I went skating Wednesday night. The night started off with me slowly easing into my grandma skating. I always have to warm up, for at least five hours, before I feel semi-comfortable on skates. Mainly it's because there is an epic battle between the rentals and my body. Right now I think the rentals are winning. Fellow Hunny Nikki Tikki Tavi was already out skating and looking like poetry in motion. She saw my struggles and came over with several pointers. It helped, but one can only do so much with faulty equipment. So she let me to try on her skates. According to the ACR website she wears Riedell 265 boots.

I was scared to death to put them on. What if I broke them? What if they broke me? Why am I broke? At first a new epic struggle began with getting my foot into the skates. I have big, fat feet because I am the Queen of Stompingham. My father used to say if I kept walking around barefoot I would get big feet. Maybe I should have listened. We finally squeeze my feet into the skates without cutting them off. Nikki had me take a lap around the rink in them. It was like a whole new world opened up. My skating skills are still fairly non-existent, but for once I didn't have to struggle with the floor. And I was going fast; faster than ever. I didn't even fall. It was as if the skates had a mind of their own and were leading me around the rink. The skates were so smooth that I began to floating on wheels. I became a skating angel (one without wings or a halo, but I'm working on it).

When I took the Riedell's off and switched to the rentals, it was back to reality. Oh what a harsh world it is with rentals. I proceeded to try to go slightly as fast as before. It was not happening. Before long, I was taking several nasty falls. The rink staff came to check on me not once, but twice, after two particular falls. Then Roll Bounce dude came to help me up after one tumble. Finally my play cousin became concerned following another fall. I was fine after each fall. The only thing I hurt the entire night was my pride.

I am too through with rentals, well at least until I get paid next month. Or I could speed the process up if people wanted to donate to the Toni Needs Skates Foundation. We are a for-profit organization that exists for one purpose, to get me skates. Sure it's not tax deductible, but you will have helped save a life, namely mine.

P.S. check out the Alachua County Rollers at

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Chronicles of Life … The grudge

Sometimes the easiest thing to do is the hardest. For me, it's letting go of the past. I tend to hold grudges for years. My anger doesn't disappear easily. I have let most of my grudges go, but some linger on. There is one that has stayed in the forefront of my mind for more than 10 years. It stems back to a person who took pleasure in terrorizing me during sixth grade. To protect the (not so) innocent, she will only be referred to as "Ella Mentry."

I hated my life at Highlands Middle School because of her. Apparently having coke bottle glasses, wearing penny loafers and being smart made me a prime target for bullying. Ella Mentry frequently led her crew in called me "Nerd Girl" and taunting everything about me. She often snatched my homework, copied it and threw it away. Once in gym class she demanded a spare t-shirt from me. Being a kind, naïve soul, I let her borrow one. Do you think she gave it back? When I asked about my shirt, Ella Mentry acted a fool and said she didn't have it. I left in tears because once again I had been bullied (and lost my official gym class shirt). I later found it thrown in the trash. Ella Mentry was that kind of person: rude, crude and with an attitude. Most of the students, and probably some teachers, were scared of her. The first time I tried to stand up to her, she came at me with a warning to back down and pushed my head.
Eventually, I gained courage. Ella Mentry skipped me in line in art class one day. I politely tried to get my spot back, but she pushed me. I snapped and pushed her back. It was on like Donkey Kong, and we started fighting. Surprisingly it wasn't that bad. Highland's Unholy Terror did not beat up Nerd Girl, and we both received in-school suspension. Ella Mentry tried to be nice to me after the fight, but it was too late. The grudge was born.
I transferred schools the next year, but often wondered what happened to Ella Mentry. I saw glimpses of her twice over the years. It was my hope that she would end up on crack, in prison or worse. It didn't happen. Instead, who should I see singing in my grandma's church choir when they came to my daddy's church last month? Yes, Ella Mentry is a new member at my old church home. I was so upset, which is kind of sad considering I'm holding on to a childhood grudge.
The problem is this ruined a longstanding dream of mine. I wanted to one day appear on the Oprah Show for a segment on childhood bullying. I – a successful, award-winning writer – would share my own tale of horror. Then Oprah would bring out Ella Mentry and her minions. Their lives would be in shambles, of course. Ella Mentry would lead them in apologizing to me. I wouldn't gloat in their lives' failures and would simply respond, "You tried to break me, but you didn't. Despite your evil ways, I forgive you."
All my grudges boil down to one thing: an apology. If everyone I held a grudge against would just say "I'm sorry," I could let it go. All I want is a nationally televised apology from Ella Mentry, and then all will be forgiven. That's not too much to ask for right? But in the words of The Rolling Stones, "You can't always get what you want." And my mother says I can't expect God to forgive me if I can't do the same.
I have to accept the fact I probably will never get a grandiose apology, or any type for that matter, from Ella Mentry. I'm still a little – maybe a lot – bitter about being bullied. But after 13 years, it's past time to move on. So Ella Mentry, I forgive you. Besides releasing a grudge from middle school should be elementary, my dear readers.