I've never been on a skateboard in my sixty-three years.
But after a great conversation yesterday with a guy eight years older than I am, I'm seriously thinking of getting a longboard skateboard -- for cruising around, not doing fancy tricks.
Is this crazy? Not to me. And not to the 71 year old man I met while we were waiting for our cars to be serviced at Mini of Portland.
Killing time, we found ourselves standing together, looking at the new Mini two seat model in the showroom. Noticing what I was wearing, he said "That's a Crazy Shirt." "Yeah," I replied. "T-shirt and pants both; I love Crazy Shirt clothes; wear them all the time."
He was similarly attired. Had on the same Kona Coffee-dyed pants I often wear. We bonded immediately. Two old guys who like fast, fun cars like our Mini Coopers and comfortable, youthful Hawaiian-themed clothing.
In the course of our conversation, I mentioned how I'd been pondering taking snowboarding lessons this coming winter. (I used to ski, but don't play around in the snow anymore.) That led him to say: "How old do you think I am?"
"I don't know," I told him. "You look fit, but you're probably older than I am." "I'm seventy-one," he said. "Until four years ago I was a skateboarder."
A longboard skateboarder, he explained, looking longingly out the window at busy four-lane Canyon Road, which leads downhill from Portland's Sunset Freeway into the non-wilds of Beaverton. "That'd be such a great road to ride a longboard on -- if it wasn't so filled with traffic."
It turned out that he'd "caught an edge" (not sure what this means on a longboard) while avoiding an obstacle on a downhill road run. The fairly serious fall made him realize that his reflexes weren't as good as they used to be, so he gave up longboarding.
Still... "You should do it!" he enthusiastically told me. "I had four or five boards at one time, and made one myself. Get a good carving board. Remember that word: carving."
Well, I just might take his advice.
Going on my usual two-mile dog walk this afternoon, I looked with fresh eyes upon the sparsely traveled rural road that loops through our neighborhood. Some parts are pretty steep, but (perhaps overconfidently) I imagined myself smoothly carving my way down them, cap on backward, grooving to the beat of my 63 year old mind which is still young enough to come up with thoughts like "grooving."
My Mini Cooper friend and I (never got his name) agreed on a lot during our brief conversation. Life is short. It can end at any moment. Risks are everywhere. Yes, skateboards are dangerous. So is simply living.
There's lots of ways to "catch an edge" and take a tumble.
Cancer. Heart attack. Car accident. Falling off a ladder. Recently a newcomer to my Tai Chi class said he broke his back while simply standing on his snowboard, turning to look at a cute girl, and falling on his butt.
I'm not really disheartened by how few hits I got on a "senior citizen skateboarder" Google search. I don't feel like I'm as old as I am. I'm in very good physical shape. I do Tai Chi, lift weights, ballroom dance, hike and bike, boogie board big waves in Hawaii regularly. I could handle a longboard skateboard, for sure.
Just like this 72 year old man did first time out in the only You Tube video I found of someone my age or older skateboarding (but I didn't search very long).
l like his attitude. At the end of the video he also expresses a "just do it" philosophy.
My Mini Cooper friend told me that he thinks he could live to be ninety. His goal is to die a slippery slope sort of death: be bold and active right up until the end, then, whoosh!, abruptly slide into that last breath and heartbeat.
Sounds good to me also.
I hope the guy gets back on his board one day. Make a You Tube video when you're ninety, dude. I'll watch it when I'm 83. Maybe while I'm still riding a skateboard (around the old folks home?).