Sunday, August 30, 2009
Roller bootin' (Part I)
Lengshuijiang has not one but two roller skating rinks. The first rink I visited is located underground in what my liaison’s daughter said was a tunnel used during the war. She wasn’t sure which war.
Next to a KTV (karaoke bar) was the entrance to the tunnel. After walking a few feet into the darkness, the air suddenly became cold and damp. It smelled stale. I felt like we were walking into a mining shaft.
Sometimes the gray rock surrounding us opened into a small room where people played pool. Ahead we saw the red-lit outline of a roller skate.
It was difficult to tell the size and shape of the rink. Columns of rock rose in the middle of the rink. The rink had muddy streaks, sometimes puddles. The conditions were far from ideal, but it was roller-skating nonetheless.
I told my liaison’s daughter and niece that my friend, another teacher in the program, was visiting the next day. We wanted to come to the rink to skate.
My liaison’s daughter and niece did not say anything at first. But several minutes later, after we had left the rink and were waiting at the bus station, my liaison’s daughter said, “We don’t think it’s safe for you to go skating.”
“Why?” I asked.
“There’s bad boys who go there,” she said.
“Yes, bad boys. They will steal your money. They will hurt you.”
I asked if they had weapons. No guns, she said, but maybe knives.
“Will they stab us?” I asked.
“Maybe,” she said.
My friend, Allen, and I went anyways. (His text to me: I’ve felt pretty iron deficient lately so I’m sure a good shankin’ could help.)
It rained much of Saturday. When we arrived at about 8:30 p.m. the entire rink floor was slick with water. We each received a pair of rental skates, both pairs soaked through. We also received two plastic bags to wrap around our feet.
The rink was an oval doughnut shape with three hills at one stretch. Chinese music blasting out of a speaker echoed against the cave walls. We skated faster and faster, the wheels of our skates sliding easily over the wet floor.
In the end, we were never knifed, and we didn’t see any bad boys, only 12-year-old girls who held hands as they skated.
Posted by Jolie at 7:51 PM