We all have our own story of how it happened. Maybe you heard someone rolling down the street. Maybe an older sibling did it and you followed. For some, there was always one around, sitting in a garage or attic, waiting to be found again. A random gift for a birthday or holiday.
For me, it was summer,1988, I was four. My mother was taking my sister and I to the community pool, which was in the cul-de-sac of a neighborhood not too far from our house. In the middle of the cul-de-sac, surrounded by houses and the pool, were a group of teenagers, being four they could have been adults to me, but were probably twelve to fifteen. They had bright neon colored shirts, one had bleached hair, they were pulling early grabs and judos off a home built launch ramp on the black asphalt. I never took my eyes off them, I don’t even think I got in the pool that day. Just watched these kids skate the launch ramp from the other side of the chain link fence.
Of course, it was the question of the week, “Can I have a skateboard?” My parents response, “No.” They had no problem with skateboarding, I was four, I’m sure I asked for hundreds of things on a daily basis, some carry into the next day, maybe even the next, most desires fading within a week, so the answer for anything of possible value/space was initially, no.
This question did not fade. Every day, I asked for a skateboard, asked what I could do to earn one, to deserve one. I think it took about two weeks of endless questioning before my parents determined, the want and desire wasn’t going away. So that week, my mother asked me whether Sports Authority or Toys ‘R’ Us would be the safer bet, being four, I assured her that Toys ‘R’ Us was the spot.
I became nervous in the parking lot, my mother told me our first spot to check was near the bikes. We got inside and wandered down the hall that led through all areas and aisles. As soon as the potent stench of fresh rubber hit my nose, I knew we were close. At the end of an aisle, I saw them, white half boxes with black lettering displaying the board. It was a Nash Executioner, shaped like a cheap goldfish cracker knockoff, the graphic of the dragon on the mountain of skulls. Green dragon on a white backdrop, green plastic trucks, yellow wheels, green sliders and tailblock, clay bearings, that fake griptape that looks like someone painted glue across the deck and sprinkled raw sugar into it, raised bolts. The signature Nash circular saw logo in the grip.
I was tearing it out of the box in the car. Feeling the grip, staring at the graphic and trucks. I rode it every day. Being four, and 1988, I didn’t have much access to learning beyond trial and error. I would bomb the hill in front of my parents house, regular and switch, at the time I only knew it as, riding with my other foot first was harder, so I did it to mix things up. I would do idle 360 pivots and build ramps out of thick plywood against recycling bins and trash cans to ride up and do kickturns, fighting to learn how to ride up and acid drop(most of the time the plywood would tip before I ever came close).
Before I knew it, the summer was over and school was starting. I couldn’t help but brag about my new found love. Then it happened, someone else shared the same love. He told me that there was a way to jump without a ramp, just off the ground. I drove myself crazy for years, trying everything I could do to legitimately get that board off the ground.
I could never figure out how to do it. Even when The Simpsons grew in popularity and I’d watch Bart(I would yearn and pray to the universe for a skate scene in The Simpsons) and try to learn from his fictional portrayal, obviously, I didn’t get very far. My interest didn’t fade, I did what I could, learned to acid drop off the plywood on a recycling bin, knocking the wood off the bin half the time, I’d skate in the rain to switch things up. Another three years pass and my family moves overseas for a couple years. I never stopped searching for my skateboard, I would devote time after dinner and on weekends, searching boxes in the garage and attic, every now and then ask my parents where it could be, it never showed up.
When we moved back, we returned to the house we had lived in, having rented it out while we were away. I knew the skateboard had to be somewhere obtainable, it was the first thing I did when we returned. After looking at this board, I hadn’t seen in two and a half years, I knew I had outgrown it. I asked my mother if I could upgrade, she shrugged, why not? This time we hit up Sports Authority, being ten and feeling grownup with the hope of peach-fuzz around the corner. There were two options, both Nash, both in the same white and black lettered cardboard display boxes held in place with zip-ties. One, the Switch Stance Wooden deck, yellow plastic trucks, tiny white wheels, clay bearings, the same raised bolts and the same raw-sugar sprinkled griptape. The other was a Nash I can’t place, the deck had a glossed background and the pencil drawing of maybe a fat cop or a pig in a police uniform, maybe eating a doughnut? It had real griptape, metal trucks, ball bearings, legit wheels. The Switch Stance with plastic trucks cost twenty-five bucks, the other, eighty-five, I was given the opportunity to upgrade my board so easily, I didn’t want to be greedy, and went for the Switch Stance.
It became all I did again. Out in the street of my dead end neighborhood, somehow secluded in a mountainous forested landscape, but only fifteen minutes from the DC city limits. A neighborhood with only two other kids, one of which was new since I moved back. He was being driven home late from school one day when he saw me skating in the street. A few days later, he rolled up on the other Nash from Sports Authority. He knew the trick I wanted to learn, called, the ollie. Neither of us knew how to do it, but we were ready willing and able to figure it out with everything we had in us.