It was 1987, and the hottest place to be was the Roller Disco next to the new strip mall that had just gone in on the service road. That is, the hottest place to be if you were under 17 and still dependent on your mom or dad to drive you places. The older kids liked to make up rumors about how there had been stabbings there, or drug deals in the parking lot, because it made the place seem more dangerous and risque, but really, the only drug deals taking place in the parking lot involved the high school kids selling the junior high school kids a single very, very overpriced joint that probably didn't even have marijuana in it, and watching the junior high kids fall all over themselves acting stoned for the rest of the night.
So when I say "the hottest place to be," consider the preceding.
It was 1987, and the hottest place to be was the Roller Disco.
And the hottest person to be was Johnny Carlisle.
Johnny had the hottest clothes and the hottest hair. He had custom skates-- that's right, he brought his own skates to the roller disco-- and he could rock any move you could think of on the roller rink floor. He moved with the grace and precision of a professional ice skater, but he did it on four red plastic wheels and a toe stop.
All the girls (under 15) adored him. They cooed over his every move and hoped that maybe, just maybe, one day he would ask them to join him for Couples Skate.
One such girl was Michelle DeMarco. Michelle wasn't allowed to go to the Roller Disco because Michelle's little brother Tony had once seen some kids outside the Roller Disco snorting Lik-M-Aid up their noses, and once of them had told him it was cocaine.
But on Thursday nights, Mrs. DeMarco worked the late shift, and Michelle would stay at her best friend, Jill Rattenmeyer's, house. So Michelle impressed upon Jill how absolutely desperately she must go to the Roller Disco on Thursday nights, and Jill relented, mostly because Michelle let her borrow her portable cassette player. So Jill convinced her mom and dad that she really, really liked to skate...which backfired, of course, when the Rattenmeyers bought Jill her very own rollerskates.
So Jill, who could barely stand up straight in her new-leather-smelling skates, and would frequently fall down if she attempted to get from the bench where she put her skates on to the entrance to the rink, would stand just inside the rink, leaning on the railing, while Michelle, who had sneaked a tube of her mother's mascara out of the bathroom one morning while she was getting ready for school, made goo-goo eyes at Johnny. Michelle was like another person on Thursdays-- her hair immediately gained three more inches on top, she dressed in designer knock-offs from the mall, and she would rub cherry Chapstick into her cheeks because it sort of had a pinkish tint like actual blush (her mom wouldn't let her wear makeup until she turned sixteen).
There were worse ways to spend a Thursday. Like studying for spelling tests. And every time Johnny walked withing three feet of Michelle, or sort of looked at something that was generally in the same area where they were standing, Michelle would squeal with such glee that it was all worth it for Jill to see her friend happy. Even if she thought Johnny's moves were a little preposterous.
Then, one day, Johnny looked directly at them, and Michelle nearly fainted. She definitely hyperventilated for a minute or so, and had to fan herself, and Jill was very happy that she didn't faint, because fainting on rollerskates could be messy.
Then, just as they announced the next Couples Skate over the loudspeaker (which Jill never really understood, because there was nothing stopping any couples from skating the rest of the time, and nothing stopping any singles from skating during the Couples Skate), Johnny started skating toward them. Backwards. With a figure eight thrown in the mix for good measure.
"OH MY GAWD!" she nearly shrieked. "IT'S JOHNNY! AND HE'S COMING OVER HERE!"
Which Johnny no doubt heard, since his cheeks and ears were both uncommonly pink when he showed up next to the girls. "Hello, ladies," he said. "Did you see me skating over here...backwards?" As suave as he was compared to the other boys at the Roller Disco, he was still only a very suave fifteen-year-old boy, which put him at about the level of a very intelligent carrot when it came to flirting.
It didn't matter to Michelle, because as far as she was concerned, he was on par with Simon LeBon and Jon Bon Jovi.
"That was primo, Johnny!" she squealed, probably a little too loudly, since Both Jill and Johnny winced.
"Uh, yeah," Jill agreed, backing away slightly. She didn't want to ruin Michelle's Special Moment. "Nice skating?"
"So, Johnny," said Michelle. "I noticed it's time for the Couples Skate!"
Johnny blushed again. And maybe hiccoughed a little. "Yes," he agreed, his voice breaking as 15-year-old voices are wont to do. "I, er...Jill?" he asked Jill.
Jill was trying to figure out how Johnny knew her name, since unlike Johnny, there were not a dozen teenaged girls shouting her name at any given time.
"What?" she asked him.
"Jill...will you skate with me?"
"You want to skate with her?!" Michelle asked, scandalized. "But look at her hair! It's too flat!"
Jill had no idea what to make of that comment. She touched her hair, self-consciously. It was true: her hair was flat. But when she tried to use hairspray, it got in her eyes, and her hair always fell back down after a half an hour, anyway, so she didn't see the point.
Instead, she looked confusedly at Johnny. "Me?" she asked. Surely this was some kind of a joke!
Johnny looked just as confused as Jill. No one had ever turned him down before. "Please?" he asked. "Just once?"
"Um...look," Jill said. "It's not that I don't, er, want to..." Even though she didn't want to, especially with her best friend glaring daggers at her. "It's more...er...look, I should warn you, there's a reason I always stand by the railing. I don't really skate."
"I know!" Johnny replied. "It's because you're aloof and mysterious. That's why I like you, Jill. Please?"
He held out a hand to her.
"No, uh...it's not that," Jill replied. She had never been called aloof and mysterious before, and she wasn't even sure she liked it. "It's more..."
She screwed up her courage, and let go of the railing so she could take his hand.
And promptly crashed right into him.
Johnny skated again after the cast came off, but by then, all of the girls had moved on. He had lost his allure, and now that it was summer, they would much rather watch the surfer boys at the beach. Not that anyone could actually surf on a small lakefront. But they did look cute in their jams.
Jill felt so bad about it that she went to bring Johnny his homework for the week he was out of school. And found out that they actually had things in common, like hating peanut butter and enjoying crossword puzzles and Alf. They dated for three whole months.
Michelle eventually forgave Jill, especially since there was a new boy who was way hotter than Johnny.
This entry was written for therealljidol Week 24: Rolling Stop