Rollerblading, Skateboarding and Radiology

It was a sunny afternoon, the school day was finally over and my mom was turning onto Xavier street. When the car was parked in the garage, I tossed my backpack inside and exchanged my sneakers for rollerblades. With my rollerblades on I zoomed down the driveway, hopped off the curb and skated across the street to our neighbor’s house.

I went right up to the front door and rang the doorbell. When the door was opened I asked for Joey in the bravest voice I could. Joey’s dad, to a 10-year old me, was an intimidating guy.

Joey was several years older than me, so he knew all about girls, dating and some other less interesting stuff. He also had an impressive Yu-Gi-Oh! deck, which even had some God cards in it.

When Joey rollerbladed off the curb and on to the street we went for a loop around the neighborhood. We didn’t have time that day to go all the way to the library to play Runescape, that’d have to wait till the weekend. But we did get a good game of hockey in using the new street hockey goal my parents got for me.

That year in middle school it seemed like all of the cool guys had gotten skateboards. Exhibit A: Josh, a fearless friend of mine who also lived in Broomfield CO, had started skateboarding long ago.

One afternoon Joey and I went and bought our first skateboards for 20-30 dollars from the nearby Target. We skated a lot after school and over weekends on Xavier street. It didn’t take long before we wrecked those boards (and our shoes) learning to ollie and kickflip.

At one point I wanted a cooler board to replace the old one and Josh was also looking for a new skateboard, so we went to BC Surf and Sport, a skate shop in Flatirons mall nearby on the weekend. Like ordering a Subway sandwich, Josh stood at the counter and asked them to make a board with parts that he picked. Unlike at Subway where I would always order a meatball sub, I had no idea what parts to order. Fortunately, the skater dude behind the counter helped me.

I chose a beautiful dark blue Plan B deck (the wooden part of the skateboard). The dude attached a light blue griptape on it. Then, he helped me pick out black trucks, some fast bearings and white wheels. I left the store with a big smile, a cool skateboard and an empty wallet.

“Let’s go to the skatepark. It’s fun!” Josh said. The paint on the bottom of Josh’s red board, the one he’d ordered with me, was already smeared from grinding. His trucks were loose, which gave him good maneuverability at skateparks. My blue board’s logo was still shiny and new. So far my attempts at grinding had been short lived and I had a 50% chance of falling over while doing it. I had also tightened my trucks for extra stability.

Josh convinced me to come along. When we showed up it was sunny out and I could see the park through the metal fence. Inside the fence were helmetless, cool dudes with hair and clothing that I can only describe as skater hair and clothes. They were skating effortlessly down half pipes and bowls.

Josh explained that dropping into bowls is trickier than it looks. You start by leaning back, with the tail of your board on the bowl’s edge. Meanwhile, the rest of your board, including  your wheels and your front foot is in the air over the bowl. Then, you quickly lean forward and, abrakadabra, you’re speeding down the bowl.

Eventually, I worked up the courage to walk up to the edge of the bowl. I got into place like Josh explained. Leaning back on the tail of my board, I looked down at the vertical drop to the bottom of the bowl, about 3 meters away. Then, I leaned forward suddenly and the next thing I knew I was face down on the concrete.

It seemed like most of the skatepark’s skaters were suddenly standing around me. My body hurt and my face was burning red. I didn’t try dropping in again.

After a couple of months my wrist was still sore from the skate park incident. So I told my mom about it.

As a 10 year-old there were those things I’d rather not do, like eat vegetables and brush my teeth. Then there was the taste and mouthfeel of tomatoes, black downhill ski runs and worst of all, the pediatrician. He’s all professional one minute, then he’s checking my testicles and sticking me with a needle the next.

Pediatricians are actually the teddy bears of medical specialists. Sometimes they just get kids like me for patients.  

Every now and again my sister and I would go to visit my mom’s workplace after school while she finished up an operation or some paperwork. I’d usually go sit at her desk and watch her remove a dog’s tooth. Usually I couldn’t see much, so instead I’d look at the pre-op x-rays. I’ve seen my fair share of veterinary dental x-rays. I even gave a presentation about veterinary dental x-rays at a science fair once. You could say I’m pretty much an expert.

My science fair project (pretty much a dissertation) on veterinary dentistry. 

My mom spared me a visit to the pediatrician by taking an x-ray of my wrist herself. We took the film to one of those old-timey, dark radiology reading rooms. My mom put the film on the light panel on the wall and determined that my wrist wasn’t broken. I got to keep the film, which was awesome.

I was sure from that point on that when I grow up I want to be a radiologist.

Klaus Kessel

Klaus Kessel