Today I did a lot of scooting. I don't know if I mentioned my scooter before. It's actually called an Xooter, and it has a brake on it and everything. I should point out that it's not an electric scooter or a Vespa or anything, it's more like a skateboard with a handlebar and, as I mentioned, a brake.
My scooter is really a concession to my realisation that my skateboarding days are over. I had always wanted to be a skateboarder. When I was a little boy growing up in the countryside of Scotland I would be so jealous of my friends who lived in the local metropolis of Carnoustie who had smooth pavements outside their homes, and streets and streetlights and all the normal accoutrements of succesful boarding. I had none. I lived in the middle of a forest, the roads were uneven and gravelly and the only light by night was the Moon. It was an impossible situation to reconcile. I put my skateboard plans on the back burner.
Cut to about thirty years later. I am a grown up. I live in New York City near a park where there are millions of skaters every day rushing around, doing tricks and generally looking cool. I get a board. I get, for my birthday, one of the hot, skinny skater boys to give me lessons. I am quite good. I go to Vancouver to shoot Tin Man and on the huge green screen stages where we shoot so much of it, Iskate back and forth to my trailer, scaring the producers out of their wits no doubt but making the crew think I am totally cool, I just know it.
I return to NYC unscathed and a bit better in my boarding technique. I sometimes go to appointments on my board. Yes, I skate on the streets of New York, baby! Soon I start a job in a Chekhov play The Seagull, at a theatre downtown quite near my apartment and so when performances begin I skate to work!! I wonder how many Chekhovian actors do that, huh?! Not too many I'll wager.
The thing about skating to work of course is that you have to skate home. I guess you could just pick the board up and carry it, of course, but generally after a show you tend to go out and have a few drinks with the cast and friends who have come to see it and so you tend to throw caution to the wind a bit and decide to skate home, maybe even show off a little to your friends and skate alongside them as they walk to the subway or a taxi or a restaurant. Can you see where this is going?
One night I was with a crowd of friends and we were enroute from the theatre to a restaurant. My friend Paul was visiting from Vancouver and we were walking together, me on my skateboard and he alongside me suporting my arm on his shoulder. We were having fun. The sidewalk was a bit bumpy but I was a pretty good boarder for a 43 year old man and I could cope. What I hadn't bargained for was the combo of the bumpiness and my amusement at Paul's hilarious stories. I guffawed a little too heftily and before I knew it the board had slipped from under me and I was on the deck, and several inches of the skin on my side remained there, ingrained on the scraggy concrete. I laughed it off, of course, my pride being the most hurt and all that. The next day though I begged to differ. I had a weeping raw scrape about six inches long, and suddenly my desire to skate to work was gone.
How many Chekhovian actors have to peel their linen costume trousers off their gooey, scabby hip between acts I wonder? Not many, I'll wager.
Anyway, now I have a scooter. And a helmet. And I zip around town and it's great fun, great exercise (fabulous for the abs apparently with all that pushing off) and all is well in the world.
I do feel a little bit of a dork when I dare to cross the skateboard park, but the cool kids don't seem to snigger. Too much