Lets start off by clarifying that I am not poor and not every 40-something man on a long-board is poor either.
On the contrary.
The vast majority of newly re-adopting skateboarders are well qualified, well traveled and well dressed. They are equipped with the most modern online tools & toys and are reaching a point in their lives where they need a little escapism. Escaping the wife & kids or just work is the common excuse, but for some, myself included, its ruling out any life regrets that we may have one day or have started having already. We all come to a point when we realise that life is ephemeral & fleeting, but most balding-grey 40 somethings buy a Porsche. Right?
At the very rubbery age of 20 I stopped skating. I was a street skater and not a very good one. I stopped cause I knew I had reached the limit of my fears of self-harm and started feeling it in my knees & ankles. Its been in the back of my mind ever since I stopped. I now attend skate events, I buy skate videos, I follow skate channels on Youtube and now even “Like” many Skater pictures on Instagram. It all seems rather pathetic, and my friends who never skated, just dont get the appeal of the flo-jo you get when cruising along on four 50mm wheels at 30km/h. I’m not being overly nostalgic, but Man! those were good times!
I recently read this article in the New York Times which sparked a random conversation on Twitter with my equally aged friends, Craig & Tim who both never stopped skating since their teens. The convo-timeline went something like this:
Tim: This weekend, lets meet, set you up with a deck and thrash the concrete Bowls.
Craig: Im in.
Spillly: Im scared.
Spillly: No, really. I am..
..and so on and so forth, until eventually I ventured to the local skate shop and bought, with my private-bank credit card, a mid-ranged, mid-priced deck, wheels and trucks and had it set up by some grungy, dope infused teenager, who vaguely resembled myself 20 years ago. Right, all set. Except I needed one more thing: bigger balls. That was resolved by buying a helmet and wrist guards, the least I could do to protect my skinny brittle 37 year old frame. Bear in mind that the combined age of the 3 of us is well over 100 years.
Day 1. The Concrete bowl.
The three FOG’s (Fat Old Guys) rocked up on our Vespa’s with our skateboards strapped to our backs and swapped the Bike helmets for sports helmets.
It took a whole 10 minutes before some 12 year old girl, on a board, came cruising up to Craig & I and politely asked how old we were. I asked how old she was & attempted to explain that it was rude of her to even ask. I haven’t been on a board longer than she has been alive. There I stood, in my original converse all stars, my shiny new helmet with my heart in my throat, ready to “thrash!” or at least that was the word us cool kids used 20 years ago. I never fell once, which was easy considering I hardly moved in 2 hours. Squeezing the sweat out from the sponge in my helmet just showed how unfit I was and how much exercise skating is. Tim, who has more patience than God & has “mad-skills,” made me feel less awkward by politely pointing out that I was here, on a board, doing this!
Day 1- mostly successful.
I have been back on the board a few times and vow to continue to do so for as long as my ageing body will allow, which by all accounts, will still be a few good years. I now lie in bed planning the tricks and carves I’m going to do next, like a Olympian winter luger.
So if your life is a bore, your career is killing your spirit, you are thinking of cheating on your wife and are browsing the inter-webs for an affordable red convertible sports car, I have an alternative to all of those, which will re-invigorate your life. You may be called a FOG on the streets, but the level of respect from younger kids on decks is growing & that’s the least of your worries. Its exhilarating, its challenging, its counter-culture (again) and its cheap as long as you have full medical aid coverage. Its Skating for the 40+ generation and its awesome. In an age of high consumerism and information over-load, its so refreshing to go back to the basic feelings you had as a kid, in a gang on your street corner, with an attitude and a cheap toy that brings a smile to your face.
Join the movement. Lets skate!
late submission: Check out this video from Erik and tell me you aren’t a little inspired?