I smile and hold her hand as we start walking toward her apartment again. “We’re not going to a club.” My eyes skim her smooth, bare legs. “And, you should probably put pants on.”
Curiosity sweeps across her face. “Where are we going?”
I wink. “It’s a surprise.”
If any of you out there were already wishing I’d marry your daughter? You’re gonna go nuts for this next part.
I pull my bike into a parking spot in the almost empty lot. I nudge the kickstand with my foot and climb off. Delores rips the helmet off her head for a better look at the glowing sign.
We’re in Newark—the decent part. Because, like drive-in movie theaters, roller rinks are quickly becoming extinct. There aren’t any left in Manhattan and only a few still in Jersey. I did some Google searching—figured, given the pictures in her apartment, this would be the kind of date that would make Dee all giggly and gushy.
And after hot and horny, that’s the next best thing.
As usual, I wasn’t wrong. Dee’s smile is blinding as she gets off my motorcycle. She claps her hands and hops up and down. “Oh my God, this is gonna be awesome! I haven’t been skating in . . . I can’t even remember how long!”
It may sound pansy, but watching Delores smile is quickly becoming one of my favorite things to do. Finding ways to make her smile could easily become a new hobby.
“Do you skate?” she asks as we walk into the building.
Growing up, roller-skating wasn’t a frequent pastime for my friends and me. But, I’m pretty sure I can hold my own.
“Once, when I was like, nine.”
She grips my arm. “It’s like riding a bike; you never forget.” Her eyebrows wiggle. “And I do a kick-ass shuffle.”
I chuckle. “I’m sure you do.”
Inside, the place smells like a mixture of rubber, floor polish, and slightly moldy rugs. After renting our skates and lacing up, we hit the rink.
Where I proceed to fall on my ass. Hard.
But, in a cool way, of course.
Dee stands next to me, laughing, and offers her hand. I take it—then pull her down with me. On top of me. I cover her giggling mouth with mine, and I bite her lip in punishment. But just when things are starting to get good, a pimply faced boy in a white-and-black referee uniform skids to a stop inches from us.
“Um . . . you can’t . . . This is a family place . . . You can’t do that here.”
I smile. “Sorry.” Delores covers her chuckle with her hand.
I drag myself up the wall and start again. By our second lap, I’m steadier on my feet and we cruise next to each other. There’s only a handful of other skaters on the floor—most of them look under the age of ten. “I think we’re the oldest people here,” I tell Dee.
“No. Look at them.” She points to a Hispanic couple that doen’t look a day under eighty, holding hands, skating in perfect sync. “Aren’t they sweet? That’s how I want to be when I’m old.”
They look . . . happy. Tired, a little worn around the edges, but totally comfortable with each other. It must be gratifying to be with someone who knows you as well as you know yourself—and at the end of the day, still wants to go roller-skating with you.
“Being them when I’m old would be nice. Being Hugh Hefner would be better.”
Dee throws her head back and laughs. Then she agrees with me.
Later, Delores is taking a break, sitting down on a bench, while I get some sodas from the snack bar. As I hobble back, a kid with a slick smile and a backwards baseball cap skates up to Dee. Physically, he looks about twelve—but his attitude seems much older.
And he sounds like Joey Tribbiani. “Hey, babe, how you doin’?”
Dee smirks. “I’m doin’ awesome, thanks.”
“How about you and me—next couples skate?”
Before she can answer, I’m there handing her the soda—and answering for her. “I got next couples skate, kid. Called it.”
His little punk eyes look me over. Then he tells Dee, “You get sick of the Angus beef over here and wanna try some veal, I’ll be over there.” He hooks his thumb toward the arcade games that line the wall, then he skates away.
“What the hell was that?”
Delores chuckles. “That is exactly how I picture you as a kid.”
I shrug. “It’s close. I was less obnoxious, much more charming.”
“Or maybe you just thought you were,” she says, then she takes a sip of soda.
And the DJ’s voice comes out over the loudspeaker. “The next skate is couples only . . . and we’ve got a dedication.”
I watch her reaction. Waiting.
“?‘All I Want Is You’ by U2 is going out to Dee from Matthew.”
Her eyes widen, and her teeth clasp her bottom lip—with excitement and awe—because she never saw it coming.
I stand up and hold out my hand.
Dee shakes her head a little, then she smiles up at me. “You just made every dream of my thirteen-year-old self come true.”
She stands and kisses me sweetly. Then she holds my hand and we move out onto the floor. And—thank Christ—I don’t fall. The lights dim so only multicolored spinning spots illuminate the rink. Bono’s voice howls out of the speakers as Dee and I smile at each other and skate. And it’s ridiculous and immature—silly and stupid.
And more f**king perfect than I ever thought possible.