The Lisa Diaries

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The Lisa Diaries by Lisa Carver  



February 22, 2001

I spotted three mullets at Newington Skate, two acid-washed pairs of jeans and one guy I went to high school with. In fact, all these people could have been my fellow Dover High students slinking down the halls in 1985 — except they were wearing rollerskates and their faces were old. In the rink, they altered their speed and posture constantly, while I maintained a steady pace and one position — vertical corpse with a twitching right foot. How did they get so good? Perhaps they never left the rink. Instead of travelling the world or exploring bisexuality, they went right on skating for the past fifteen years. Apparently they didn’t even stop to change their clothes. So deep was I in my anthropological musings that I didn’t notice my wheeled legs slowly and inevitably spreading wider and wider, until at last I was on my hands and knees, crawling out of the spotlight.


I joined Dave, who had been sticking close to the hot dogs and instant cider all evening. He hates rollerskating, and accompanied me this time only to avoid divorce. Over the loudspeaker, a song about feeling you breathe replaced one about the eye of the tiger. That could mean only one thing — Ladies Choice. I chose Dave. Each pair of skaters — the men with their peculiarly narrow hips and the ladies with the opposite problem — formed one new, graceful creature. Together, their hips were perfect. They understood each other physically, they spoke a foreign language with the arrangements of their limbs. Even Dave and I, clinging to each other’s stiff arms, were transformed. Flashing lights and artificial wind will bring out the superstar in anyone. Suddenly, he and I were able to move rapidly behind each other to switch hands over and over, we imitated each other’s moves without thought . . . some strange squat method of propulsion, and, well, that was our only move. But we felt like beautiful animals anyway. I lifted my left foot off the wax floor and nothing bad happened. At the vending machine afterwards, my dollar wouldn’t go in. Someone had left eighty cents in there and the Hershey bar came out for free, which made it taste lucky.


Then came Men Only. The DJ played a few bars of Shania Twain’s “I Feel Like A Woman” and the skating men guffawed. These were men unbuffeted by doubt — they may be at the bottom of the socioeconomic barrel, and unhandsome as well, but they have something the ninety percent of the population above them can’t remember having: certainty about their masculinity, about what masculinity is, and about what lack of masculinity merits (ridicule). They may still be bag boys and oil changers or former oil changers on disability from bad backs, but at night they’re two things all the way: skaters, and men. I begged Dave to go out among them.


“Leese, I can’t,” he said. “When I was trying to skate backwards earlier, one of them came up to me flapping his arms like a chicken and said, ‘You gotta watch out for people’ with that stupid New Hampshire accent. They hate me. They know there’s something wrong with me.”


“Dave, you know I love men together. Go on, just one song. I’ll cherish the images.” He went, and not ten seconds later one of the mulleted men accidentally touched him. If a woman brushed against me, I wouldn’t notice. But I guess it’s different for men — at least, it’s different between Dave and these men. The toucher jerked back and held his hands up like two stop signs, and then did a tight little circle around Dave and skated off. And Dave turned into a crazy hockey skater! He folded his body down at the waist and moved his arms with fists at the end as if he was wielding ski poles. He didn’t even know how to skate before tonight! Around and around he flew, grim-faced, weaving between the other men. I don’t know if it was my imagination, but each time he passed the mullet man, it seemed as though Dave waved his bum irreverently. He looked so happy and sweaty.


“Did you see me out there? Did you see what I did?” he panted. “I told you they always have it in for me.” I asked why he supposed that was.


“Oh, I know why — it’s because I’m a rebel.”


I laughed happily, and then I realized he wasn’t laughing with me. He was serious. He’s a rebel. My short, skinny, computer nerd who can’t decide what to eat for dinner. What is a rebel, anyway? A rebel is a hero with bad timing. I decided it was true, Dave is one.

“Let’s go out one more time and then go home,” I said, and I didn’t even complain when he ruined my brand new satin shirt with his sweaty arm.

Lisa Carver is the author of the books Dancing Queen, Rollerderby, The Lisa Diaries and Drugs Are Nice. She’s written for Hustler, Index, Icon, Feed, Newsday and Playboy, among others. She lives in New Hampshire.


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