The ride to the spot, in this case and countless others just like it, was medicinal! Tire pressure was good so the pavement, though punctuated with cracks and fissures like most of Brooklyn, didn’t instigate the knees or wrist the way it could if I inflated past 70 lbs. But, in addition to the absence of the minor physical discomforts that could signify the potential for more serious pain in the next hour and a half, my travel to the basketball court involved no eye contact or the embarrassment that being seen could illicit. You see, despite my efforts at seeming way past any “middle aged BMX enthusiast” embarrassment, eye contact with someone while I was on my little kids bike could instigate that phenomenon I knew only as the “super shame deluge”. Yeah, I understood all of the reasons that I shouldn’t let the unwarranted judgements of others impede my play, but knowing and KNOWING are two very different animals and one of them bites hard with big teeth. Not to mention that, on top of my less then ordinary choice of hobby for folks half my age (let alone a person well into his 40’s), it could also be argued that my choice of attire also violated the eye roll imposed requirements of age appropriateness. I love my ripstop bdu’s, baseball hats, hooded sweatshirts and hardcore band, metal or jazz t-shirts. And skate shoes are more then a predilection, in my case they absolutely qualify as obsession. As humbling as it is to admit it, I spend an inordinate amount of time tracking down articles of clothing that I hope give the impression that I am completely unconstrained by any appearance related concern. While my uniform is cultivated with a surgical attention to detail, admitting that brings with it no small amount of self-loathing. Warning, much of this story concerns the evaluation of my own gargantuan silliness.
So, as I enter the courts and at 8:15am, approximately 15 minutes after it is unlocked, I roll over to the benches and the unpainted black top that I prefer ride that sits directly in front of them. I immediately begin the ritual of dropping my book bag on the bench, taking out whatever brand of energy drink I have carried with me, and turning to glance at whatever other early bird happens to be shooting free throws on the otherwise empty courts. Today, however, I notice something not just out of the ordinary, but an absolute first in my at least five years of weekend routine. There is something circling the three courts and the shooter currently dribbling on them, that is grey on top, kakhi in the middle and aqua on bottom. It is rolling briskly, but not fast and emits a familiar sound that is almost soothing. In a matter of seconds, I have already figured out that I am watching a skateboarder carve big circles around the courts, sometimes bending down and putting a hand on the board as if the pulling and positioning is influencing the quality of the turn. I quickly notice that the guy on the board has no hat on, something that factors into my almost instantaneous determination that this being is uncool, his hair feathered and parted in the middle, tinted eyeglasses cover his squinting eyeballs and he is wearing floppy socks that are so stretched out that they hang down low enough that they only cover about an inch of his ankles above his “on-sale” colored vans.
My thoughts quickly take the shape of words accessible to no one but myself, “my space has been invaded by a fuckin’ kook!” Again, my lips remain connected this whole time as the words never go external, and I just watch this weirdo roll around the courts, over and over, as he rather hospitably makes sure his travels never interfere with the shooters practice or puts the skater in any jeopardy of compromising my designated practice area. As he rolls and smiles, even offering a passing wave in my direction, I feel myself growing increasingly upset at his mere presence. How dare he interrupt my routine, how dare he do so looking so fucking uncool and, above all else, how dare he do any of these things while seeming to enjoy himself so thoroughly!
As I sit on the bench seething with resentment, I begin to wonder what it is that has me so upset. After first, I try to sell myself on the ridiculous notion that his presence and happiness have somehow violated my sense of solipsist, isolated artistry. This, it quickly become s clear, is horse shit! None of the people playing basketball at the courts has ever made me feel the way I do now and, for the first explanation to hold, that would have to be the case. Upon further scrutiny, and this is one of those rare cases of me subjecting my own behavior to the same microscope I use on others, I have to admit that my anger is clearly a variety of jealousy. This guy has been skating, enjoying his ride the whole time I have been here and probably spent no more then 30 seconds selecting, purchasing and putting on his attire as he rushed to the park to smile. I, as the kook, have allowed everything in the world to arrest my attention except for my own enjoyment.