I quit pot, roller-skating, and karaoke all because of horrendous experiences. I was never going to do any of them again, but then a friend who thinks cannabis has its own section on the food pyramid asked if I wanted to get really stoned and do Skate-A-Roake.
Skate-A-Roake is when you roller-skate and sing karaoke at the same time. On the second, third, and fourth Wednesdays of the month at 8:30 p.m., Southgate Roller Rink and Baby Ketten Karaoke team up to give everybody this chance to have fun and embarrass themselves. It costs $10, there is a bar, and you have to be 21+.
But we weren't drinking. Before we went in, we had a three-course weed experience of smoking high-school-style closet-grown pot, followed by vaping, and finished off with a chocolate edible. It was great, and I couldn't remember why I stopped smoking pot in the first place.
Inside, I wobble-rolled up to the host, put my song in, got the cordless mic, and panicked. To read the lyrics projected on the wall, you had to skate to the center of the rink and read them from underneath the disco ball.
Even when not stoned, I am the kind of skater who can stop only by smashing into the rim wall and grabbing onto it. To stop in the center of the rink, I'd have to do that stop where you tap your toe on the ground, and that wasn't going to happen without smacking my face into the ground as well.
So I sang the Talking Heads' "Wild Wild Life" while skating the whole loop—meaning that for half of the song, my back was to the lyrics and I didn't know what part to sing.
The moments when I could see the lyrics were the best karaoke experience of my life: flying forward while singing. Once I turned that corner and the lyrics were behind me, it was a nightmare. I'd try to look behind me at the screen, almost slip, snap back into balance, scramble to remember the lyrics to a nonsensical new wave song, and lose my breath.
Then I'd turn the corner again, see the lyrics, with full confidence feel great, then turn the corner again and lose it. I can honestly say it was the fastest repeating rotation of self-doubt and deluded egomania I'd ever had in my life.
After the song finished, I had another edible—which was a huge mistake. I got that "trapped inside my own body" feeling where everything slows down. Normally, I'd go to bed before doing something stupid, but I was in the middle of a roller rink.
For a decade and a half (in stoned time), I rolled around the loop. For some reason, the really good skaters like to get as close as possible to other people just to show they can. Sober, this would be annoying. But in stoned slow-motion, having somebody wheel up right next to you and then skate backward in front of you feels like death.
But my friend who was watching me from the rim could not stop laughing, so somebody was enjoying it. After an hour of a constantly changing mix of grunge rock, Disney songs, and 1980s music, I was finally able to summon enough agency to crash into a wall and make my escape.
"Oh my god! You look like you have Ebola," my friend said. Even though I was sweaty and red-eyed, I actually felt really good. I'd just done three things I thought I'd never do again, all at once.
"This year, we need to practice this more," I told her.