I'm a fighter, not a lover.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Hill St.: not smart

In an effort to be a bit more frugal and make my bank statements slightly less comical, I’ve become a bit of a recluse (though not nearly as bad as my friend Emily; she works in a barn!). I’m going to shows far less and really, just going out less in general, at least mid-week.

So, I take walks. It just seems like the logical way to spend an evening as a poor man. It’s true; I’ve conducted studies and I have noticed a lot of the homeless population here is perpetually walking. I’ve modeled my form of thrifty entertainment after them. Although, I generally avoid pushing a shopping cart full ‘o detritus or lashing the remains of a pillow to a backpack.

While walking last night, passing the people playing with fire in the park and the dude carrying his infant daughter while long-boarding, I got hit with some of that déjà vu. Right upside the head.

About ten years back, prior to the driving privileges and when the $4.75 an hour courtesy of Dunkin’ Donuts just didn’t seem to stretch all that far, my friend Phil and I would spend our summer nights by taking to the streets — inline style!

Airborne, maybe the best movie ever.

We’d skate about two or three miles (note the absolute stubbornness in avoiding using the brand-name “Rollerblade” as a catch-all phrase and especially as a verb), returning home with war stories, bloody knees and the odd piece of gravel embedded into our skin. The highlight of the route was Hill St. to Main St., pictured below.

Hill St., as its name suggests, is not a flat piece of land. Approaching it from the southeast places one right atop a steep hill, fairly evenly paved, perfect for adolescent boys and anything that involved wheels (I later found out that if driving up the hill at top-speed, one’s car could briefly take flight).

The real beauty of Hill St. was the hard left turn one needed to make immediately on to Main St. to head back to our neighborhood, ideally at high speed and in a cross-over, right-foot-over-left fashion for style points. The challenge was that we were turning on to Main St. and, as with Hill St., the creative forefathers of Tewksbury were pretty straight-forward in their naming duties.

The infamous turn.

Cars sped down Main St., the most heavily traveled road in the town, while fostering all of the stereotypes that exist for Massachusetts' drivers. To make things more interesting, on the very corner of the intersection sat a stone building, blocking the view of north-bound traffic. After being propelled down a steep hill, this leaves the bad-ass inline skater with a little less than a half-second to decide whether to take a hard left turn literally into the middle of Main St., or to bail out, turn right 90 degrees and prepare to get all too familiar with a parking lot and a Good Will receptacle.

Most embarrassing for Phil or I was when one of us made it and the other didn’t — especially if one squeaked by a moving vehicle, ass-across-the-paint a la Dukes, forcing the other to decide between pride or his limbs. The successful one would effortlessly glide up Main Street’s smaller hill and wait atop of it, while the other would collect himself, shamefully make his way to the victor, out of breath, bloodied, battered, and – dare I say it! – less of a man.


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