So it was about mid-day outside the Museum of Fine Arts Boston when Freddy roared through my line of sight for the first time on his skateboard. The sun winked. I was sitting on the first of three marble benches in a line, so I had no trouble hearing his skateboard grind along a majority of the second bench before falling and rattling to a still on the sidewalk–but I hadn’t watched.
I was preoccupied: The glint of my copper-nickel pinky ring in the broken sunlight under thin, leafless trees–how cool I felt raising that boney hand up to my lips and pulling on the cigarettes–how patiently those rolling fumes danced everywhere. Of course, my headphones had something to do with it too; I’d recently been turned onto the duo Bleached some days earlier. But the grit and wail of a Punk Rock, LA-princess were only a part of the point I’m trying to make, which is why I took the earbuds out as Freddy started back my way.
“I know,” I said, “but it’s all you.”
Which was true. There wasn’t any foot-traffic along the entire stretch of sidewalk to stall him, and I suppose the unlikeliness of an empty Huntington Avenue at mid-day was mention worthy.
His silhouette blotted out the sun again, but I was watching him now–all soaked, off-white t-shirt black denim jean green Vans Eras of him. Once his momentum died he did a stationary kick flip, then stepped off the board and kicked it around a little–this actually prompted me to roll mine back and forth underneath my feet, just to hear something out of it. As it typically goes, our boards sounded different; which is poetic: It’s the motions, the way a skater moves–his style–and the allotted time they’ve had their board that influences how it sounds once it’s been broken-in. Mine had a hollower, perhaps even drifty sound to it, while Freddy’s had more of a flat, solid crack going on. (But who knows.)
Anyway, when Freddy got back on his board he started rolling around in a circle, and I watched the thin, leafless tree-shadows grip his shoulders and give his shirt a very marbled look. So I started to say something:
“You know, you kind of–”
But he was off, and the hurtling rumble of polyurethane wheels on concrete drowned me out. For a third time he blotted out the sun, and the silly little aesthetic finally made me grin behind my knock-off RayBan Club-masters. When he popped up and came down, both trucks smashed into the marble so well that the thing practically turned into a conveyer belt for him. At the end of the ledge he popped back off, losing almost no momentum as he rolled away.
I clapped hard hard once or twice, but I’m not sure. I doubt he heard me anyway because when he landed he just went right on pushing. Faster. And then past the third ledge, more likely than not without a single clue what to do–or not to do. He was fueled on hype. Then I was:
Tossing my earbuds back in, I cancelled my cigarette on the bench I’d been occupying, somehow overly enthralled watching the waffle-grip sole of his right sneaker kick up from behind him. I got right to skating after that, sure. But that was the best part of my day; watching Freddy push though the growing shadows of tiny branches behind my RayBan imitations with the angry charm of Bleached running through my head. The scene was completely stained with culture. I don’t know, I think I might’ve just been happy to be a part of it all.