I was in line at a café. A mundane afternoon. Then I noticed the guy in front of me. Introspection followed.
He was wearing shinny, opulent shoes. Diesel jeans. A black Gucci bag dangled from his bent wrist, which was adorned with several loose fitting gold and silver bracelets. Obviously gay. He had short, neatly trimmed facial hair, vaguely resembling George Michael. Freshly waxed eyebrows. A few streaks of platinum-blonde were dyed into his otherwise dark locks, which were slicked back. A ghastly toxic cloud of too much cologne hung in a 3’ fallout radius around him. He was wearing a black sweatshirt that was torn around the head opening, in some garish type of Vogue/GQ sanctioned manner. More gaudy, loose fitting gold jewelry hung around his neck. The logo on the sweatshirt? “Thrasher Magazine.”
I wanted to talk to him. Not to be an asshole, but because I was genuinely curious. I wanted to ask him why he chose to wear that sweatshirt. I wanted to know what it meant to him. I wanted to ask him if he’s ever picked-up a single issue of Thrasher magazine, or if he’s ever ridden a skateboard. I wanted to ask if he was willing to bleed, tear ligaments, shatter bones, and destroy parts of his body for something he loved. I’d like to ask what he thinks skateboarding means to skateboarders. I’d like to ask how he thinks people perceive him wearing that garment. I’d like to ask him if he cares about those perceptions. I’d also like him to know what it all means to me.
I’d like to show him my scars. Show him my inability to walk correctly, and how much trouble I have with stairs. Show him my x-rays, before and after surgery. Show him my deformed ankle. Show him the places my skin and blood has been left behind on rough asphalt. Show him the medical bills. Show him the tears when I realized it would be long time, if ever, before I could skate a 1/2-pipe again. Show him the nightmares that keep me awake at night when I think about life without skateboarding.
Of course, I did none of things. Nor would I ever. Calling-out some random stranger is more obnoxious and pretentious than wearing a Thrasher shirt when you can’t even name a single pro skateboarder. Instead, I thought of the irony. He had no idea who he was standing next to. In fact, neither did I. I was acutely aware that this entire situation revealed far more about the content of my own consciousness than it did about anyone around me, including him.
Skateboarding has changed. Perception of skateboarding has changed. We used to get beaten-up, shunned, and ostracized for skateboarding. Now we are fashion icons, and profit demographics for multinational corporations. No news there. I can’t change any of that. I’m not sure I’d even want to.
That said, it always stirs deep emotion when something I have dedicated my life to, and destroyed my body for, is reduced to mere “fashion accessory” for those who have never known the same passion. I would never wear something just because it “looks cool” without some sort of horse in that race. I am forever bewildered by those can.
To be clear, there is no point, moral, or social edict to this story. Do not look for one. I am simply sharing an experience I had at a café.