What is a legitimate lapse of time for revisiting a pop culture trend? In case you haven’t read recent installments, I am big on nostalgia. And considering the fact that I’ve only been able to absorb a mere 23 years of fads, I may on occasion decide to rehash something before its (second) time.
Case in point: Rollerblading. It’s logical that Rollerblades went out of fashion with the turn of the millennium: They’re aesthetically unpleasing, require unflattering protective gear and, for those not athletically inclined, are as frightening as the Y2K bug. So it takes an impressively strong sense of irony to feel motivated enough to purchase a new set of ‘blades over 15 years after the genius back brake was installed on the Bladerunner. Once the idea planted itself in my head, I found myself scouring the sale bin at Academy before you could say, “But you could break your wrist!”
After my fizzled attempt at finding a sense of community at the Jung Center, a friend approached me with another option: Forming a violent street gang. Of course, this gang would be based around Rollerblading, calling itself “BLADEZ.” The weapon of choice would most likely be some sort of blade, but crowbars are funny too. Really, any object from “Clue” would be pretty cute.
In terms of hazing, BLADEZ would obviously force pledging members to blade naked in an HOV lane at night. All gangs have an iconic tattoo – we couldn’t decide on the design but absolutely knew it had to be done prison style, with a fountain pen and a knife!
For whatever reason, my family was not as impressed as my friends when I began boasting about the soon-to-be-launched BLADEZ society at the Thanksgiving table. After understanding that I might be jeopardizing my well-being, I decided to tone down the gang jargon and reinvent the concept as a Rollerblading flash mob. Part exercise of Rollerbladers’ right to the streets, and part poking fun at the politicized monthly biker event, Critical Mass, the flash mob would be a tribute to the 2003 flash mob spectacle and early 1990s nostalgia: Critical Sass.
We made flyers on toxic neon yellow paper: "For the Houston event, we will meet downtown at Market Square (bounded by Travis, Milam, Congress and Preston). Look for the boombox blasting a mix of Boyz II Men, early Mariah and Naughty By Nature. Maps of our top secret route will be distributed at 7 p.m. It might be chilly, so bring your windbreaker. Participants are encouraged to bring their own wine coolers and “Cooler Ranch” Doritos."
I got to work preparing for what was to be an epic Rollerblading debut. Gone were the thug aspirations of BLADEZ, replaced by weekday evenings skating down the freshly paved blocks of West U and practicing crazy eight’s in the parking lot of the Spec’s on Smith on Sundays.
Little did I know that Critical Sass was doomed due to unfortunate weather. The planned take-off for last Friday was sabotaged by an ill-timed wintery mix. My dreams crushed, I slipped into a sad state of devastation that left me spending all of Saturday eating Kroger-brand frozen pizza and watching straight-to-DVD Lindsay Lohan movies.
A sudden mass text broke my sad stupor, as I was informed of a more season-specific flash mob – the Santa Rampage. Perhaps you are familiar with the age-old national phenomenon of strangers convening on a predetermined location, decked out in Santa costumes. The invite encouraged creative interpretations of Saint Nick: Secret Santa, Santasaurus, Slutty Santa, Hanukkah Squirrel. I attempted my own rendition of “SoMo Santa,” replacing the classic Santa onesie with pearl snaps, a slightly-tattered firetruck-red cardigan and very-tattered wingtips.
Stepping off at the McGowen station to meet my future Santa friends at Front Porch Pub, I realized I was still clutching a mini-Santa hat, and felt overcome by the odd intuition that I should do something more inventive than propping it on my head. A shiny object caught my attention on the sidewalk. Walking closer, I discovered a lost metal barrette. Whereas most people would regard this as a guaranteed recipe for tetanus, my first reaction was, “Why not pin this to my crotch?”
And so I walked into the pub with a seemingly erect Santa hat perched on the front of my jeans. Perhaps it was the unintentional Justin Timberlake “in a box” allusion that made the costume such a hit, or maybe it was the fact that all the other Santas were already well on their way to being in no condition to steer a sleigh.
I had to catch up. And so I did. You’d be surprised by how many drinks people will buy you when you’re shamelessly dressed in costume. You’d also be surprised by how a mob of thirsty Santas can descend on Open City and demand happy hour specials at 1 a.m. on a Saturday. I certainly was surprised at our third stop, dance club Rich’s, as I North Pole-danced my heart out and noticed a sudden feeling of bareness. Looking down, I saw to my horror that my token Santa hat was strewn somewhere on the dance floor. More importantly, I must have at some point neglected buttoning up my pants after a bathroom visit. And so it was that I flashed the flash mob.
Camera phones flashed, and murmurs became shouts as I composed myself in the midst of the jolly crowd, mortified by my indecent exposure. Seemingly out of nowhere, a benevolent Santa magically strode my way with my lost cap. The way he seamlessly breezed through the dancers amazed me until I realized that this particular Santa was, in fact, decked out in a pair of crimson inline skates. Tipping my cap, I thanked him.
“Whoever you are – I have always depended on the kindness of Stranger Santas.”
As soon as he returned my hat, he zipped back off into dance floor oblivion. Back outside, gathering myself into one of those awkward minivan cabs, I wondered, “Was Inline Skating Santa simply a mirage?”
In any case, I anticipate seeing him, and you, my reader, at the rescheduled Critical Sass in May.