Can't get it out of my mind. Longboarding, which is skateboarding on, duh..., a longer board.
After blogging about how I'm seriously considering giving longboarding a try at the age of 63, asking "am I crazy?", I've come to no firm conclusion. Of course, knowing the answer wouldn't tell me much. I've never had a desire to be averagely normal.
And leaving aside obvious clinical insanity, craziness is pretty much in the eye of the beholder. We all do, think, and believe stuff which makes other people say, that's crazy! While to us... they're crazy.
So viva la craziness. The world would be way too boringly sane without it.
The Great God Google provides me with lots of fodder to feed unlimited herds of pro and con arguments about taking up skateboarding at my rather advanced physical age (psychologically, I'm embarassed to reveal how young I feel).
Lena Salmi, a 58 year old woman who happily longboards in Helsinki, Finland, inspired me on the pro side.
The city is an adventure playground for a skateboarder, Lena Salmi claims. She views her home town with fresh eyes: there is a good chicane over there, and this is a good site for tricks. A public space need skateboarders more than the boarders need the city, she argues.
“We give the city a measuring scale and show how a space works. We also develop the street culture. Longboarding is an incredible means of contact between people. Passers-by stop to look at us. All of a sudden the civil servants are not quite in such haste.”
”I allow the onlookers to have try for themselves and the dogs to sniff my board.”
Salmi declares that she is having a lot of fun when she is skateboarding.
Not everybody, it seems, is OK with that.
”A man cycling by once asked me: ‘Why do you bother with that stuff, an adult woman like you?’ I replied that I was a woman, but not an adult.”
”Another time a little boy asked how I was allowed to skateboard, even though I was so old. Where does the joy disappear from a person’s life?”
Tracy McMillan's If You Fall, You're in Trouble was much more of a downer.
I actually know a few of these Grown Man Skateboarders, living as I do in Los Angeles' hipster-strewn Eastside. It's hard to really be against older dudes on skateboards! They look cute with the wind in their hair -- but then, I've always been sort of partial to the manchild. It seems to me the real problem is that if they fall, they're in trouble. I once dated a guy who'd been a skateboarder in his youth -- he had broken virtually every bone in his body. No, seriously. He had bones sticking up at 90 degree angles out of, like, his clavicle. Rainy days are going to be hard for that guy in 2030.
A lot more positive is Am I too old to learn to skate? Amusingly (for an old geezer like me), the oldest specific example cited of someone starting to skateboard was Jose, who returned to the sport at the -- gasp! -- ancient age of 45.
It comes down to my basic rule for living: there are no rules. Including that one. Life is a mystery. Dive into it however, wherever, whenever you feel like it; swim around; explore; it'll still be a mystery.
I emailed the dudes and dudettes at Exit Real World, an Oregon skateboard/snowboard business with stores in Salem and Portland. I've always liked the name. Never been in the store. I quasi-seriously explained why I first wanted to ask them my crazy question via email.
Yesterday I wrote a blog post called, "At 63, I'm seriously considering skateboarding. Am I crazy?" I've gotten one comment from a friend who is about my age. His answer: yes.
For a while today I thought I agreed with him. But somehow I can't get the notion of longboarding out of my mind.
...So I'm asking for your honest opinion. I realize that you're in the business of selling skateboards and gear, but you're also in the business of guiding people in the best direction for them -- which could involve, I assume, telling them "skateboarding/longboarding isn't for you."
...I was worried that if a 63 year oid guy walked into your Salem store, alarm bells would go off, a trap door would open up, and I'd find myself in an underground chute that leads to the Senior Center. An email seemed like a safer way to start off getting your opinion on 60+ longboarding. Any advice, based on your experience and expertise, would be welcomed.
l got a reply today. I liked how it started off. And ended.
Hey Brian, I was thoroughly entertained by that read. I've been in the skateboard industry for the past 10 years and have seen all shapes, sizes, and ages skateboarding. That's the good part, there aren't any rules for skateboarding. I think that plays a big part in the popularity of skateboarding.
...What's the worst that could happen when in a helmet, knee pads, elbow pads, and wrist guards on if you chose that route? As long as you take it slow and learn the basics and don't start at the top of booyah hill in South Salem I'm sure you'll do just fine!
Well, I can evision various "worst's."
But the good news is that in 2011 there was only one skateboarding fatality of someone 25 years or older. Just one! And that person was 35. Senior citizen skateboarding is perfectly safe! (Along with being extremely rare.)
Most people think of tricksters in skate parks when skateboarding comes to mind. But there's all kinds of ways to get on a board and enjoy yourself. Like I was told, there aren't any rules. Longboarding simply can be a means of commuting, of getting from here to there.
Or, of dancing. This video appeals to me. I doubt I'll ever be dancing on a longboard with anywhere near this sort of expertise. But I could do whatever I can do. Which is the whole point of skateboarding.
Did you do it?
Our park district has a learn to skateboard class for adults. Do they mean me?
Posted by: Ann | July 05, 2012 at 07:33 AM
Categorically, everybody, young and old, looks ridiculous on a skateboard. That has never stopped anyone, however - humans are ridiculous creatures to begin with (in a nice way).
If all of the other activities you engage in are not enough, go ahead and add this curious pastime to your list.
Posted by: Willie R | July 05, 2012 at 11:25 AM
Ann, a belated reply. Yes, I did it. And yes, the class is definitely for you. Just do it. Dude. That's the message of tonight's blog post about my initial longboarding experience:
Posted by: Brian Hines | July 15, 2012 at 08:02 PM
no doubt you should try it! here in Brazil I saw a woman probably around 60 years old having classes in a street skate (I find more difficult than the long board)! if you get a good teacher, he/she will help you and give confidence to continue.
btw, i am 35yo and i used to skate at my teens, and a few years ago i got back riding my skate. now i am also having classes, as i want to advance my skills. i am feeling VERY happy (and more confident, balanced, etc) with that, and this sensation is priceless! i really recommend skating to everyone!
good luck and enjoy it!
Posted by: David | August 16, 2012 at 08:16 AM
Here is one more plus-side :)
Posted by: Lena Salmi | August 23, 2012 at 03:03 AM