Unequivocally Ambiguous

Humorous Stories on Parenting, Culture and Life

Rolling Into Trauma With My Fuchsia and Magenta Unisex Rollerblades

by | Apr 7, 2024 | Life | 0 comments

My mom’s storytelling convinced me to wear girly roller skates

My mom got a pair of roller skates as a gift. The boot was a bright white, two wheels were magenta, and the other two were fuchsia.

Rollerblades had been on my list of “Mom, buy for me, please!”

Rollerblading and attempts at 360s and backflips had become popular among the cool kids, and I wanted to do what everyone else was doing.

My mom was still figuring out her way through the financial maze of being a single mother in a country without paths to stability for people without a college education. So, money was always tight; it was hard to even pay for the electricity and water bills, let alone rollerblades.

She learned early on during the divorce that she could tell us stories to make up for things we were missing. My sister and I were young and gullible and no match for my mom’s gift of storytelling. She diligently started to sell me on the idea that maybe I didn’t need my own rollerblades but her roller skates.

But I couldn’t get past the obvious, “Mom, those are girl rollerblades.”

“Tsk, tsk, no, mijito!” My mom responded. “They are unisex. And girls like men who are comfortable wearing unisex things.”

Many of my things growing up were unisex, including the perfume I used for a long time. And sometimes they were unisex, like my CK One, and sometimes they were not, like my mom’s and my roller skates.

She worked equally hard to provide for us as she did to make us live a life of make-believe. She did it when she tried to sell us on the idea that oven-roasted beef round with copious amounts of salt and pepper tasted exactly like hamburgers.

It didn’t.

Round, of course, is a metaphorical word to evoke different emotions than its accurate description would, ass. And that was what it tasted like; it tasted like chewy ass with copious amounts of salt and pepper.

But my mom had labia! Which is not the same as labia; don’t be gross. Labia is the Spanish word used when someone can convince you that up is down and left is right. They are verbose, loquacious, they have the gift of jab, they can spin a yarn, or convince Eskimos to trade you their fur coats for needless ice.

And she has it in spades.

So I might’ve had the discerning power to know that the beef round didn’t taste in any way like a burger, but I believed her when she told me that our roller skates were unisex.

If anyone even hinted at my roller skates being girly, I’d tell them confidently and manly as a twelve-year-old could, “They are unisex, imbécil!” And if they insisted on it, we would get into a shoving contest, and I’d shout to one of my friends, “Hold me back because I’m going to kill him.”

Skating gained such popularity in Barranquilla that they built ‘el patinodromo’ or the rollerdrome. The rollerdrome was a twenty-minute walk away from my house. You paid a minimal fee to get in — it might’ve been quinientos pesos, which probably converted to an American quarter back then.

One Sunday night, my sister, my mom, a friend of my mom’s, and I went to el patinodromo. The plan was for my sister and I to make a few loops around the rink and for my mom to talk to her friend. But Rosy insisted my mom get in the rink and skate with her. That meant I had to get out and give my mom our unisex skates.

It is obvious when someone has never been on skates because they want to stop gravity from doing its thing by pumping their arms up and down as fly-less birds do.

My mom didn’t have that. She swiftly skated through the loop. Before the end of the second loop, she tripped and fell.

Laughing at someone who falls is mandatory in my family. Our family motto could as easily be, ‘Laugh first, then help.’ So, I made fun of my mom. But then I realized my mom was crying and wasn’t standing up.

Instead, she was holding on to her right leg. When I ran to her, we tried to help her out of the boot, but the ankle had already swollen too much to get the boot out safely without making her writhe in pain. We called an ambulance to help us.

The ambulance took my mom to the orthopedic ER in town, just a ten-minute drive away, where she got a cast that went all the way past her knee. She also had to get surgery on it later on. One plate and four giant screws to hold it all together.

All adults in the city break away for a few hours at noon to head home for lunch.

My mom would make it home for lunch, but we lived on the fourth floor of a four-floor building. The exact floor limit to avoid building an elevator. My mom had to scoot up on her butt the four flights of stairs. By the time she finally made it, she didn’t have enough time to properly finish her meal before she had to start scooting her way back down.

She would eventually get in to get her cast off, and she promised the doctor she would be back to get the plate and screws out. She never did it. Health care is private and expensive in Colombia; you don’t get what you need if you don’t have money.

It has been close to thirty years, and not once have I heard my mom throw it back at my sister. She never said, “If you would’ve not cried, I would’ve never put on those rollerblades, and I wouldn’t have a plate and four screes in my leg. I would not beep walking through metal detectors or feel a sharp pain in my ankle when a storm rolls by.”

I often think about the craziness of growing up in my household and the courage with which my mom raised us. I hope that kind of courage, unlike my roller skates, is unisex and that I can have it when raising my children.

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