The Wheels on the Bob

by Bob Smiley as told to Bob Smiley

Kyler glared at me from across the roller rink. Several skaters flew between us, no doubt knowing what was about to happen. No turning back now. The race was on. Sure, he’d beaten me in the past, but today was a new day.

“Ready,” Kyler said. “Set...”

I leaned into position.

“Go!”

We both started tying our laces as fast as we could.

Kyler and I always race to see who can tie up his roller skates the fastest. It’s the only race either of us will ever win at the rink. I won once, but Kyler said it didn’t count because I had Velcro skates that day.


After Kyler won (again), we started skating around. I made several turns and even passed one person! Full of confidence, I decided to get off the carpet and try skating on the actual roller rink.

“Are you crazy?!?” Kyler said. “We’re not ready for the wooden floor of death!”

Clinging to the rails, I stepped onto the rink. A string of professional skaters flew by me in a blur. Just the wind from these speedsters almost knocked me off my feet! I tell ya, first-graders have no respect.

I steadied myself and pushed off the rail. A few seconds later, as I lay on the floor, I wondered if someone had secretly put helium in my wheels. For some reason, they kept flying in the air.

A neighbor lady, Mrs. Fox, stopped and helped me up.

“Did you drop something?” she asked.

“Yeah, my dignity. Have you seen it?” I joked.

Mrs. Fox led me around the rink a few times. It was embarrassing, mostly because Mrs. Fox is 87 years old. But she covered for me. Every time somebody passed us, she would holler, “Thank you, little boy, for helping me stay on my feet!”


An hour later, I felt like I’d finally mastered the rink. I was skating all by myself and had even picked up speed. But then, as I rounded the corner by the concession stand, I saw Wendy.

She waved and said, “Looking good, Average Boy!”

I wanted to impress her, so I skated even faster. Unfortunately, I was still looking back at Wendy and not looking where I was going. I ran into the sidewall—which was only 3 feet tall. Instead of bouncing backward, I flipped over the wall and landed on top of a table where a nice family was about to eat their pizza.

“Hey, who ordered the half-pepperoni, half-boy?” the dad said.

The entire family laughed as I crawled off the table. I apologized and offered to buy them a new pizza, but the dad said not to worry about it. He said the story alone was worth it.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go practice tying my laces. Kyler’s streak is about to end!

This article originally appeared in the July 2014 issue of Clubhouse magazine. Copyright © 2014 by Bob Smiley. Illustration © David Harrington.