@

When I was twelve, there were only two things that mattered.

Roller-skates and Craig McNeish.

Roller-skates – because they were my ticket to a magic place of speed and grace.

Craig McNeish  - because he was super cool in the way that only a twelve-year-old boy in denim can be.

So, it stands to reason that the thing that I wanted most in the world when I was twelve was not world peace or an extra viewing of The Karate Kid. No, the thing I desired above all else was a pair of boot skates.

Not the ankle high, sporty ones – speed skates, I believe they were called – I wanted the mid-calf, white- leather, lace-up ones with hot pink wheels.

I badly wanted the hot pink satin covers too, but I knew not to push my luck.

I knew if I had these roller-skates, my life would be great.  Craig McNeish, would probably want to be my boyfriend, I’d start getting straight A’s and my boobs would grow so I could at least fit a trainer bra.

I wanted those skates so badly, because Saturday afternoon at the roller rink was the only place to be.

The mornings were reserved for the tiny tots. The little JonBenet Ramsey’s all decked out in their frilly pink dresses and sparkly underwear. A pedophile’s wet dream of twisting, arching pre-pubescent girls, all trying to outdo each other with leg splits, back bends and double axel jumps. The fussing mothers would herd their little darlings onto the blue plastic rink and shout at them through clenched teeth to smile. “Smile, baby. That’s riiiight. Smile.”

At one o’clock sharp, these doll babies would stagger out rink-blind into the sunlight, and it would be the turn of the pre-teens to strut their stuff on the rink.

‘RollerLand’ was the place where dreams took shape and young hearts ran free. At least they did on the soundtrack.

I needed those boot skates, for two reasons: First, I’d get to hit the smooth plastic before the rest of the hordes, giving me plenty of space to twirl and twist and show off while my schoolmates stood in line at the hire booth. Secondly, the girls with boot skates were usually pretty and rich. I wanted to be both.

I wanted those skates so badly, I did a terrible thing. I agreed to give up my bunnies.

I had been given two bunnies for my eleventh birthday. I’d really only wanted a single black and white rabbit, but it couldn’t be found. The next best thing was to give me a pair. A white one and a black one. A male and a female.

Soon I had a hundred bunnies. Of all shapes, sizes and colours. But it didn’t take long for me to discover, much to my distress, that this was no Watership Down, this was more like Caligula in a cage. The bunny hutch turned into a bloodbath. Bunnies kept appearing as if by magic. The older bunnies began eating the baby bunnies.  I would be traumatised every day when I had to check on what carnage had happened over night.

Day after wretched day I would try to save the tiniest bunnies, but they would end up dying in my bedroom. One baby bunny even committed suicide. I affectionately called him ‘Saggy Baggy’ and this little scrap of fur and skin had somehow dragged himself up the side of the cardboard box I’d put him in and launched himself off my high dresser.

Despite the never-ending horror, I would perform dozens of rescue attempts every morning and afternoon, all of them ending in tears. My mother would plead in desperation for me to give the bunnies away, or sell them or send them to the local butcher, but I valiantly refused.

Until she dangled the prospect of the white boot skates in my face.

In exchange for getting rid of the bunnies, I would get my precious skates, which would instantly bestow beauty and riches upon me. I accepted her devil’s deal with a handshake and skipped off happily to say goodbye to the bunnies.

My mother was wearing dark sunglasses as she drove us to an industrial part of town where there were factories that bordered on grassy paddocks. She hoisted the cages out of the car and opened the hatches. Out scampered the bunnies, tiny ones, medium sized ones, fully grown ones. They looked like they didn’t know what to do with their freedom, so they did what they did best and started having sex. I scattered a bag of bunny food for them and jumped back in the car. My mother was already gunning the engine, looking around nervously, in case we’d been spotted. We roared off down the road.

I didn’t look back.

The next day, I had my boot skates. I replaced the white laces with some funky rainbow coloured ones and picked out my outfit for the weekend. I was going to shine on the rink, dazzle my friends and Craig McNeish with my twelve-year-old sex appeal.

It took forever for Saturday afternoon to roll around. It couldn’t come a moment too soon. I gathered up a gaggle of girlfriends and strutted into ‘RollerLand’ like one of the rich, pretty girls. I laced up my new boots in record time and glided onto the floor.

As I made my first circuit, I looked for Craig McNeish in the crowd. I spotted him fumbling around with his blue sneaker skates in the stands. I skated backwards so I could keep my eye on him. His bright red hair was stunning in the disco lights. He was wearing a double denim ensemble of jeans and jacket with a white tee shirt. As he looked up, he caught my eye and I looked away quickly.

Even though I made sure I was not looking at him, I felt him move onto the rink. I knew he’d be speed skating to catch me up, because I was wearing a ruffled mini skirt, and he would have definitely seen my boot skates, and now he’d think I was pretty and rich.

Sure enough, he slammed into me, knocking me into the sidewall hard enough that I fell over. He collapsed on top of me, all arms and legs and heavy skates denting my shinbones. I knew he liked me then because he didn’t say sorry, he just smiled and got up and skated away, leaving me breathless and bruised on the hard blue plastic floor.

The boot skates had done their job. The next weekend at the school dance, Craig and I kissed for the first time. I ran my hands through his thick red hair and counted his freckles as I lay my head on his shoulder. I may not have been rich or pretty and my chest was still cardboard thin, but he was my boyfriend and all was right with the world.

I don’t know what happened to my cherished skates. I think I gave them to the Red Cross when the ball bearings wore out. As for Craig, cheeky redheads with a penchant for denim often go looking for trouble and when he was just seventeen; he found it, in a car on a slippery corner at night.

The bunnies, for all their blood lust and incest managed to live longer than Craig. In the town where I lived there is now a serious rabbit problem that the authorities are always trying to fix. Occasionally I feel bad about having contributed to this ecological disaster, but then I realise blaming myself won’t help.

I blame my mother instead.

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Zara Potts ZARA POTTS is an Associate Non-Fiction editor at The Nervous Breakdown. In a former life, she was a network television journalist, specialising in murder stories and entertainment. She has worked variously as a producer, reporter and publicist as well as contributing to major newspapers and other media outlets in New Zealand. Alongside her television work, Zara has also been involved in radio and film. She also, weirdly, has been a judge for the NZ Music Awards. When she isn't online, she is working on her first novel. She lives in Auckland with a bionic dog.

146 Responses to “Rabbits and Roller-skates… A Cautionary Tale.”

  1. I know I shouldn’t laugh at bunny suicide…

    I had the same bunny problem when I was about that age. I took one of mine out to a field and let it loose, and about 6 months later it came hopping back. Crazy bunny. I should’ve swapped it for some sweet roller skates. All I got was a lasting sense of guilt.

  2. D.R. Haney says:

    Wonderful post, Z.

    I had two rabbits, at two different times, when I was a kid. The first was white with a few black spots, and the second was a Dutch rabbit. Dutch rabbits are especially cute, I think.

    http://dutch.rabbits-for-sale.info/

    Both rabbits died, of course. The first death was particularly traumatic, but then, that rabbit (whom I’d very originally named Thumper) was never aggressive with me, as the Dutch rabbit was. (I named that one Oswald, for some reason.) I once went to feed the Dutch rabbit, which lived in a hutch outside, and it pretty much attacked me. A woman at the local animal shelter asked if Oswald was male or female, telling me that male rabbits tend (as with humans) to be more aggressive than females. I never did learn Oswald’s sex. A vet would have known, but I never took it to the vet.

    Because I had rabbits as pets as a child, I can’t, to this day, bring myself to eat rabbit.

    I have to say, I did laugh at the bunny suicide.

    We’ll discuss roller skating later.

    • Zara Potts says:

      Aww, thanks lovely D.

      I love hearing what people call their bunnies. Thumper and Oswald are particularly good. Do you think you named Oswald after Lee Harvey? Bunnies usually get given the most saccharine names – mine were no exception. The white was was called Clover and the black one, Blackberry. Original, huh?

      No, I have never eaten rabbit either, nor mouse, dog or cat. I guess the pets we have influence our eating.

      Oh dear. The bunny suicide. I still remember it vividly. I don’t know why I thought I could save Saggy Baggy, he really was a pathetic little thing, more like a baby rat than a rabbit, I fed him with an eyedropper and kept him warm but it wasn’t enough to prevent him killing himself. I think after he leapt from my dresser, I realised that I was fighting a losing battle and that idea of giving up the bunnies seemed like the best course of action. The fact I got a pair of roller-skates out of it was just an added bonus.

      Let’s talk about the roller skating now…
      x

      • D.R. Haney says:

        Thumper was the name of a Disney rabbit, from Bambi, and I think my mom suggested Oswald after another cartoon character, though I’d never seen that particular cartoon. I’ve just Googled it, and here’s what comes up:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oswald_the_Lucky_Rabbit

        Disney owns Oswald, too. Surprise.

        When I lived in New York, I had a problem with mice at one point, and I set traps around the apartment to catch them. One morning, as I was getting ready for work, I heard a trap go off, and I found a mouse caught by the tail, still very much alive and struggling to free itself from the trap. I was in a hurry and didn’t know what to do with the mouse. I wasn’t about to kill it. Then I thought, “Hey, I’ll take it up to the roof and release it there.” I thought the mouse would find a hole on the roof to burrow, though I never took into consideration the dearth of food on the roof. Anyway, I ran it upstairs and released it, and the mouse promptly run up a wall and threw itself from the building. So that was my own experience with rodent suicide.

        As for roller skating, there must be something about kids around the age of twelve wanting to put on skates and hit the rink. I did for a few weeks when I was twelve. It was a particularly difficult time for my family financially, and Skatetown, the local rink, was in the white-trash section of town, where we were then living, and every redneck kid from blocks around could be found at Skatetown every Friday and Saturday night. With so much practice, a lot of them were great skaters, and I was not, so I got pounded again and again at Skatetown, until finally I stopped going. Those kids were sadists, but then, most kids are, to one degree or another. The sadistic streak never entirely goes away, of course, but, as adults, we tend to express it in less direct ways, with less overt pleasure.

        • Zara Potts says:

          The mouse jumped off the building??? That’s awful and comical all at the same time.

          That reminds me of another awful scene in my childhood actually – I remember once going for a walk along the cliffs that hug the ocean in my hometown of Christchurch and being greeted by the awful sight of sheep leaping to their deaths from the cliffs onto the rocks below. It was awful. Apparently sometimes sheep get something called ‘grass staggers’ which is a nervous system complaint that makes sheep and cattle go wonky and they are unable to control their movement and so if not properly fenced in – will leap off cliffs or drown in rivers. Horrible.

          And as for your skating sadists at Skatetown – we had them too. Although luckily for me, the rink bullies usually went to Skate City and not RollerLand. Skate City was the white trash hangout. I never liked it, not just because of all the bogans that hung out there, but because it had a dumb concrete rink. My beloved Rollerland had blue plastic. Much more classy..

        • D.R. Haney says:

          The mouse story is comical, I know. I even thought so at the time, while also feeling bad about the mouse.

          Grass staggers or not, sheep and cattle are herd animals, and so they tend to act en masse in a way that predatory mammals, as far as I know, don’t. There are more loners and small, cooperative groups among predators. They’re smarter. They have to be. Sheep are frankly dumb, and cattle aren’t much better, but I’m sure that they’ve been domesticated doesn’t help. I would think that domestication for any animal amounts to perverted instinct.

          But then there are lemmings…

        • Zara Potts says:

          Woodland creatures?

        • D.R. Haney says:

          Well, maybe until they hit the rocks or the crashing sea below.

        • Matt says:

          All of that footage, of the lemmings crowding together until they fall off cliffs, was faked by the Disney execs making the film – including them at times kicking lemmings into the water.

        • Zara Potts says:

          I don’t know about lemmings – but the sheep leaping off the cliffs was all too horribly real.

  3. Nathaniel Missildine says:

    I love the parallels between the bunnies and the Rollerland scene here, whether intentional or not. Something about the cute, horny creatures getting thrown together and the inevitable bloodshed that follows.

    I used to go a rink where similar scenes played out, but on ice. I remember the day I finally changed from white toe-pick rentals to the infinitely cooler hockey skates. The way I remember it the girls swooned. Thanks for reminding me about things painted in hot pink.

    • Zara Potts says:

      The horror…the horror! The bunny cage was a battlefield. Who knew that bunnies could be so vicious??

      It was only while writing this that I remembered what a big deal the roller rink was. The packs of girls and boys learning how to eye each other up and developing huge crushes on each other was unlike any other social experience, I’ve had. I guess it was more to do with the age of the kids than the actual place, but roller rinks, even now, hold a special, nostalgic place in my heart.

      Thanks for reading, Nat!

  4. Greg Olear says:

    “Roller-skates and Craig McNeish” sounds like the title of a poem from “Where the Sidewalk Ends.”

    This is a great piece, Z. We had bunnies in our biology class in seventh grade. They did their bunny business often, but ALWAYS when we were taking a test. The cage would start rocking, and the papers taped to the wall would get covered in bunny spunk. Disgusting.

    RIP, Craig.

    Also: I was the first-footer in my brother-in-law’s house. We await ours here, but it will probably be my dad, who is six feet tall (last year, our first-footer was a friend of Dominick’s, this tiny five-year-old boy, and we know how 2010 turned out…)

    • Zara Potts says:

      Thanks Greg! And I hope your first-footer comes calling soon.. I again, had no physical first footer so Simon came to the rescue once more as my proxy first footer on the cell phone! Needs must..!! Happy New Year to you guys :-)

      But yes – RIP Craig. I was sad when I learned of his death. He was the heartthrob of my junior high school, even with his mane of bright orange hair and terrible denim outfits. It felt good to remember him like this.

      Oh and aren’t bunnies the worst?? They really are disgusting. I had no idea they were so sex mad. When my bunnies had their first litter, I was so happy and excited, but then they just kept coming and it seemed like baby bunnies were being born (and eaten) every day. I tried splitting the males up from the females, but they STILL kept reproducing. I found out later that the female bunny stores the male’s sperm (surely, this can’t be right?!) and ekes it out, month after month, to keep impregnating herself even if the male is gone. Ugh. Gross.

  5. New Orleans Lady says:

    Loved this one, Z.
    Great work!

    Like most children, I also had a bunny. A tiny, miniature dwarf bunny named Honey. I loved that rabbit. I’m guessing it’s departure was dramatic because my subconscious has blocked the memory. One day I had a bunny and then nothing.

    • Zara Potts says:

      Thanks, Ash! You are a sweetheart.

      Honey Bunny? That’s the cutest. I wonder what happened to her? Unfortunately, I can’t recall any of my bunnies having a peaceful, natural death – it was total war in my bunny cage.

      Maybe Honey just hopped off happily to the great rabbit burrow in the sky..

  6. Gloria says:

    I enjoyed this very much, Zara.

    Rollerskating was a huge part of my adolescence, too. It was my freedom from my home life and it was where I did the majority of my social interacting. I’d kind of forgotten about the rollerskating rink, Zara – what a pleasant reminder.

    I also had a bunny, but just one. Peter. He ate our bathroom so we released him into a field of alfalfa. However, we did have hamsters when my daughter was 14. She had gotten one hamster – Brianna – for Christmas and Brianna promptly gave birth to a dozen tiny maggot looking things, all of whom promptly began eating each other. It was horrific.

    I’m sorry to hear about Craig. I do love this story of the girl getting the guy, though. Ruffle skirts and boot skates really do make a difference.

    • Zara Potts says:

      Thanks lovely G!

      Roller skating was HUGE! Those white boot skates are the thing I remember being most excited about when I was a kid. I mean, seriously, I loved my bunnies but they didn’t have a shit show of competing with leather skates.

      I’m quite glad to hear that hamsters are also cannibalistic. I’ve never quite trusted bunnies after the dreadful scenes I witnessed in their hideous cage. I kept mice too, as a child, and they NEVER behaved as badly as the bunnies. But yes, baby bunnies and hamsters are disgusting. Hairless, sightless, writhing little maggoty things. You wouldn’t think they’d grow up to be so cute.

      Thanks about Craig – as I said to Greg above, he was my first real life crush and ‘boyfriend’ and I was sad to hear about his death. I only ever knew him at junior high, but even then he made quite the impression and it is nice to remember him here, red hair forever shining under the disco ball.

      • Matt says:

        There’s a period after baby hamsters are born where the mother, if she catches any foreign sent on the babies, will kill them. Many a family has discovered this the hard way, allowing the children to briefly hold the newborns only to witness the mother slaughtering them once they’re replaced in the cage.

        • Zara Potts says:

          OH JINKERS.

          Are you saying that I MAY HAVE ACTUALLY CAUSED the carnage in the cage????

          After all these years of shaking my head in bewilderment at my brutal bunnies, you are telling me that I MAY HAVE BEEN RESPONSIBLE????

          Oh dear.

        • Gloria says:

          I wonder what the science behind that is. It wouldn’t have become A Thing if there hadn’t be some use for it. Weird. Grisly and weird.

        • Gloria says:

          er…Been

        • Matt says:

          Yes, Zara, the innocent touch of your child’s fingers may well have doomed generation after generation of helpless infant bunnies to gruesome infanticide.

          Most rodents do this. Didn’t you know that? I think it’s a leftover instinct from their lives as colony animals, trying to prevent their young from being supplanted by the young of another. Scent changes, etc.

        • Zara Potts says:

          It never happened with my mice…
          Therefore I’m choosing to not believe that this is true.

  7. Kimberly says:

    I used to be upset that I was never allowed bunnies (I too, blame my mother – or at least her allergies) but not anymore.

    Bunnigula.

    **shudder**

    You always have the best stories for New Year’s.

    • Zara Potts says:

      Dearest Zister,

      You should thank your mother for sparing you the trauma of cannibal bunnies. It was a terrible lesson to learn that things that look cuddly and cute can often be hiding a savage set of teeth!!!

      Damn bunnies.

      Bunnigula – Ha ha!!! That’s awesome. Just like you. Thank you, gorgeous. I hope you have a wonderful New Year xxx

  8. Richard Cox says:

    ZaraPotts, this is awesome! I like how you mix your delicate and sweet observations with straight up, bloody horror. Such an interesting and hilarious departure.

    And this line:

    “The little JonBenet Ramsey’s all decked out in their frilly pink dresses and sparkly underwear. A pedophile’s wet dream of twisting, arching pre-pubescent girls, all trying to outdo each other with leg splits, back bends and double axel jumps.”

    Wow!

    • Zara Potts says:

      Thank you, Little Prince!

      It WAS bloody horror! That bunny hutch put me off horror movies for life. Nothing I saw on the big screen could compare with the grossness of the bunny hutch.

      I’m glad you liked the JonBenet line. Those little girls were almost as horrific as the bunnies. Even though I was only eleven or twelve, I used to feel distinctly uncomfortable watching these little kids dressed up like baby adults. There was always something grotesque, yet fascinating, about them.

      And I’m glad you liked the piece, Richrob – I took your advice and tried something different, so I’m glad you think it worked!! :-)

  9. Zara! Lovely to see you here with your bunnies and skates. You make me miss my skates. And I had a gold belt with a golden skate buckle and jeans with skates embroidered on the back pockets. Ha! I wish I had a picture of this. The skating rink I went to as a kid is still operating and exactly, precisely the same, right down to the arcade. Freaks me out.

    • Zara Potts says:

      Oh you lucky thing – I wish RollerLand was still open. I would go there today, if I could.

      A gold skate buckle??!! That’s fantastic. My favourite skating attire was a layered mini skirt complete with leg warmers and a mesh teeshirt encircled by a studded double belt. Mmmmmm. The 80′s were just so ridiculous, I sometimes can’t even believe the outfits I wore.

      Skate on, Cynthia…

  10. sheree says:

    Wonderful story!

  11. There is something delightful about the bunny overpopulation in your town… and the role they played in the sweet young love you shared with the denim clad red-haired Craig… and you as always, tell it so, so well. Thanks for a lovely *tale* to start the new year, Z!

    • Zara Potts says:

      Oh, Lovely Robin!

      You are such a joy. Thank you so much for reading and for your words – I hope you know that I appreciate them so much.

      Poor bunnies. Poor Craig. Still, I’m glad I experienced the short lived love of both bunny and boy for a season.

      When is the new book coming?? I cannot wait!! xx

  12. angela says:

    wow, what a crazy – and amazing – story, zara! between the Bunicula-like bunnies, poor Craig, the awesome skates, and the rabbit overpopulation.

    a childhood friend of mine had hamsters. the hamsters had babies, after which the mother promptly ate them, which freaked out my 10-year old brain for a very long time. and i didn’t even see it! imagining it was perhaps worse in a way.

    • Zara Potts says:

      Who knew that bunnies and hamsters were such horrors??
      Think of all the children around the world who must have been/will be traumatised by the sight of these creatures eating each other!

      Yeah, I remember it was the mother who started eating the babies.. all the bigger babies just followed suit. Ugh. Yuck. Killer Bunnies.

      I don’t know what’s worse: Bittertown or Bunnytown!

      Thanks for reading, Angela! You are a sweetheart!

  13. Anyone who’s ever had to sweep out a hutch knows the truth that lurks deep beneath the ears and fur…I love how that Craig character wipes you out and then gets up with a smile and skates away. So typical. At least you wore the ball bearings out…

    • Zara Potts says:

      Yep, it’s a hard lesson to learn -that sometimes utter cuteness can simply be a disguise for a cannibalistic heart.

      And, yes! I loved that Craig practically broke my leg and didn’t apologise for it, thereby confirming his adolescent love for me.

      Boys. So complicated. Even at twelve.

  14. Kirstie says:

    Excellent Zara, thanks for bringing on the memories. Craig was such a great guy. Had the pleasure of seeing him not long before the slippery road. Cheers xox

    • Zara Potts says:

      Why hello there! How nice to have you read and leave a comment – I’m pretty sure I remember a number of afternoons at Rollerland with you!
      I hadn’t thought of Craig for so many years and you’re right – he was a good guy, even at twelve. It’s nice to remember him alive and skating. Thank you so much for reading, K. xx

  15. Judy Prince says:

    Loved the ending, Zara!! HA!

    This was a great, honest, straightforward bunny ride, and at times absolutely horrifying.

    And here’s an exciting bit right out of the movies:

    “My mother was wearing dark sunglasses as she drove us to an industrial part of town where there were factories that bordered on grassy paddocks. She hoisted the cages out of the car and opened the hatches. Out scampered the bunnies, tiny ones, medium sized ones, fully grown ones. They looked like they didn’t know what to do with their freedom, so they did what they did best and started having sex. I scattered a bag of bunny food for them and jumped back in the car. My mother was already gunning the engine, looking around nervously, in case we’d been spotted. We roared off down the road.”

    I’ll never again think of bunnies as cute little things happily hopping around. And, you, Zara, are a wild woman!

    • Zara Potts says:

      Thanks, Judy.
      It was like something out of a movie. My mother being particularly shady that day!
      Thank you for reading…

  16. Ronlyn Domingue says:

    AHHH! Brought back memories. I was fond of the sneaker skates (mine were blue with yellow stripes), although the boot kind would have been better for my ankles.

    It is quite satisfying to read you got the boy. So rarely do stories of adolescent shenanigans include that boon. Sorry to hear about what happened later, though.

    I love rabbits! The first pair we had weren’t properly sexed, so we were surprised by a litter one year. The babies all got new homes. The two parents were separated. This year before Christmas, Mr. T and I went to buy vegetables at a farm. I picked my own dozen eggs, avoided the threatening stare of an old black goat, and got to hold a little black bunny that fit perfectly in my palm.

    • Zara Potts says:

      See, now – that is the perfect image for you. The lovely Miss. Ronlyn holding a bunny in her palm. One day I think we should take a trip to a petting farm and spend the morning looking at cute animals. I sometimes think that just being able to touch a baby bunny, or kitten or puppy, puts the world to right.

      I’m glad you avoided anything other than the stare of the goat – They have evil faces, goats. I think it’s because their eyes are so spaced apart and they have that weird cats eye thing going on. I’m always a bit scared of them.

      Okay, so next visit – we go to a petting zoo and then put on our skates and roll… xx

      • Ronlyn Domingue says:

        Mr. T would declare that I was unbearably cute with that rabbit.

        Little animals do make things right in the world. Damn shame it’s so easy to forget.

        A petting zoo would be delightful, but you’d get an adventure at that farm. You’d experience a true bayou country character. No Hollywood bullshit fake accent, either.

        The goat sort of looked determined to put a spell on me, but I was nice to him anyway.

  17. pixy says:

    “He was wearing a double denim ensemble of jeans and jacket…”

    helllloooo texas tuxedo!

    i wouldn’t know what to do with myself either with a red-head in a texas tuxedo lurking about. it’d surely send me into a tizzy.

  18. jmblaine says:

    Zara,

    Shh, I’ll tell you a secret.
    I worked at the “RollerLand”.
    Not yours, but mine you know.

    All about quads.

    • Zara Potts says:

      JMB, you speed skater, you.
      I’ll bet you worked at every RollerLand.
      Spinning disco balls and records and skating backwards to J.Geils Band’s ‘Centrefold’ – right?

      • jmblaine says:

        No no, never was interested in
        speed skating
        as much as dancing on skates.
        Bounce, Skate , Roll
        Centerfold? Oh dear, no.
        Too Much Booty in the Pants

  19. Slade Ham says:

    Like everyone I’m sure, the rabbit stage dive of death made me laugh. Perhaps we’re all broken.

    As I got about two paragraphs from the end, I thought, How odd? This story ends happily, the skate attracting the guy and you two going to prom….

    And then his car failed to make the curve. Damn you, Z.

    Is this your quirrel plan btw? To cage them until they overpopulate and then release them into the New Zulland wild in exchange for a brand new pair of skates?

    • Zara Potts says:

      The dive of death is awful and funny. I still don’t know how that tiny little thing managed to do it.

      Sorry about the curve -One day, I promise, I will write ‘Happily ever after.”

      And that is a very brilliant idea about the squirrels. First of all, I need to get my hands on a mating pair. This is where you come in, my friend. You somehow need to smuggle me in a pair of squirrels when you come to visit so that I can breed them and then release them into the wild. If anyone can do this – it’s you. Help me, Obi Wan, you’re my only hope.

  20. Slade Ham says:

    Let’s work on smuggling me in first, shall we? A mating pair of squirrels just got moved up on the World Domination To-Do List though.

    And “Happily ever after” is overrated… it ended just fine :)

    • Zara Potts says:

      The World Domination List is already being compiled. Come quick – I need help.
      I already added the squirrels. You bag ‘em, and I’ll get you in. Oh, and don’t forget the Vitamin Water. Pink please.

  21. Joe Daly says:

    Pookie-

    Know this and sit with it until it resonates in every single cell in your body: the world can never have too many bunnies.

    Fact.

    Poor Craig. I’ll bet he never thought his memory would live on like it does now because of this piece. Thousands of people around the globe, some who might have even been born after he passed, now know of him. You, Pookie, rock.

    Skating is overrated and brutal on your ankles. Take it from a creaky old hockey player like me. Writing is much safer. :)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBXlm0UhGZ0

    • Zara Potts says:

      Dearest Cupcake,
      I should have guessed you were once a demon skater!
      You are right – the world can never have enough bunnies. I just don’t like it when the eat each other up.
      And yes, it’s nice to think that Craig can live again through words.
      You always say the very best things, Cupcake. I wish you the very happiest, rockingest, New Year.
      xx Pookie.

  22. Lorna says:

    Knock three times on the ceiling if you want me. Stomp, stomp, stomp. Twice on the pipe if the answer is no…..

    That’s the song I remember skating to with my first crush. What is it about roller rinks and first loves?

    I don’t have a good bunny tale, though. This one is so funny and horrific at the same time. I feel sort of guilty for laughing so hysterically.

    • Zara Potts says:

      I know! I guess the Age of Innocence truly ends when we walk into those roller rinks.
      As soon as I started to read your comment, I heard that song ringing out loud and clear like a memory bell in my mind. It was followed pretty quickly by Eddie Rabbit (!!) and Loverboy. Now, there are some songs worthy of forgetting!! Jinkers!

      • Gloria says:

        I love a rainy night…

        • Zara Potts says:

          Oh… and ‘Born to be Alive”
          Do you remember that one?

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVgM7qeAlko

        • Gloria says:

          Dear lord. I do not remember that one.

          What about this one:
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6l9ZbnzUUKg

        • Ooh, ooh, I’ve gotta get in on the skating song talk. I cannot hear Michael Jackson’s “Rock With You” (which, actually, isn’t that often) without yearning for my golden skate belt.

        • Gloria says:

          How old are you Zara? (Is it also culturally rude to ask that in New Zealand like it is here? If so, my apologies. Just trying to gauge if we were skating to the same songs.)

        • Zara Potts says:

          Oh god…
          Now my head is full of awfulness..

          Eye of the Tiger
          Turn Me Loose
          Cold as Ice
          Freeze Frame
          Centrefold.

          Arrrrgh. Eighties flashback.

        • Gloria says:

          Come on Eileen
          Footloose

          The Pointer Sisters
          Rick Astley

        • Zara Potts says:

          I’m turning 39 in about a month!!!! Yikes.

          Oh.. and those are all goodies, Gloria – especially Footloose.

          Cynthia – I’ll swap you a ‘Rock with You’ for a ‘Human Nature.”

        • Gloria says:

          I take heart in the fact that everywhere in the world, they still play the hokie pokie during skating. Is that right? Is that a New Zealand thing too?

          Happy birthday! (Since I don’t have FB, I’ll totally miss the announcement and I won’t remember to say it without a prompt, so I’m saying it now.)

        • They do at the old rink here! My daughter went to a birthday party there awhile back. I swear they even have the same set of cassette tapes in the little booth. Gloria, you and Zara make your way to Texas, and we will skate like there’s no tomorrow. Because there really isn’t. Birds are falling from the sky, etc., etc.

        • Gloria says:

          I will be in Austin the 14th through the 17th, Ms. Cynthia Hawkins. :) I’m visiting my dear friend Cheryl, who stomps the halls of The Breakdown from time to time (as a commenter.) Word on the street is that you’re not too far off from there.

        • Nope! About an hour south. Drop me a line! I’m hosting my sister and her family from Dallas on the 15th for our rescheduled holiday party (someone had the flu over the actual holidays), but maybe I could swing some kind of meet-up during your TX visit.

  23. Aw, the things we do for love. Your long-ago yearning for the skates and for Craig is palpable here and moving in its purity. As someone who had pet rabbits for 12 years (mine were neutered and enjoyed a very large living room and organic veggies), I’m just going to pretend the rest didn’t happen. :)

    • Zara Potts says:

      Oh, Litsa! It’s so nice to hear of a bunny story that didn’t end in either ecological disaster or carnage!
      Thank you for reading – it’s always a joy to see you on the boards!

  24. dwoz says:

    Zara…

    you amaze and astound me.

    the rabbits strike a vibrant chord with me, today. I am myself in the throes of pet oversaturation.

    Can I come to NZ and stalk you? It would be rather benign. I’d just show up at a pub near you and glom onto a near-almost-contact high, doing the 3 kevinBacons remote.

    Otherwise, I’d be gainfully employed and respectful. I’m sure it wouldn’t be much bother. Mostly.

    You brought back a stunning childhood memory. I used to go to the rollerskating rink, with my friend Dwayne. We would troll for roller-honeys. It seemed that there was some probabilistic validity to it…once in a while we’d hit the jackpot with a new-york or Jersey-shore cutie, parents-in-tow. Not your 2011 snooki. I can skate backwards.

    • Zara Potts says:

      Dwoz – it is you who amazes and astounds! You can skate backwards??? If this is true then you can absolutely come to NZ and stalk me.

      But I figure it’s only fair to disclose that my boots no longer have wheels on them. I wouldn’t want you to come all this way for some benign stalking only to be disappointed at my unwheeled heels.

      Let me know when you arrive!

      • dwoz says:

        I put my skates on and got all excited for the trip, until I remembered that you’re out in the middle of the south Pacific somewhere, and you can’t get there on skates.

        So the stalking will have to be postponed slightly. Sorry.

        What I should say is that I USED to be able to skate backwards. I haven’t been on roller skates in years, but back in the day, I could do ANYTHING on skates (ice, OR rollers). It was as you say, important to know if you wanted to be able to be hero guy to the girls who were first-timers on skates. It impressed them slightly that you could hold their hands, facing them, skating backward and pulling them along.

        Can’t say it ever got me into any kind of good trouble though. Good girls go rollerskating, bad girls hang out with the grease-monkeys and their half-operational cars.

  25. J. Ryan Stradal says:

    Zara,

    Christ, what a story. Humor, gore, and pathos, mere sentences away from each other. I don’t often find myself saying this, but this could be *way* longer.

    Maybe it’s good to be left with questions — Stephen Elliott once said something on the order of that he’d much rather be left wondering than burdened with exposition — but, for starters (and this is a minor question) how long did you date Craig? How did it end? Before or after the skates? He went from in your arms to killed in an accident in two sentences! I mean DANG!

    Oh, and for the sub-thread … in my day, “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” and “Hey Nineteen” were burned into my brain as songs permanently linked to disco balls, cheesy fries, the smell of ball-bearing grease, and the chaos of a dimly-lit oval floor. The Steely Dan seems like an outlier, but Dakota County was/is a strange place, where diversion has aberrant bedfellows.

    J. R.

    p.s. — by chance, I was listening to the LCD Soundsystem song “Dance Yrself Clean” as I was reading this story, and the part at 3:08 where the song kicks into overdrive occurred right at the line “As I made my first circuit …” and it was wildly, strangely perfect.

    • Zara Potts says:

      Thank you so much for your lovely comment, J.R!

      Tell me – is ‘Hey Nineteen” the same song as that terrible “nah..nah..nah..nineteen” Paul Hardcastle one??

      As for my short lived romance with the divine Craig – I’m afraid it was just two twelve-year-olds ‘going round’ together for a short school term. I can’t even remember how it ended. Probably with a note passed across the desk saying, ‘I don’t want to be your girlfriend anymore.”

      But he was naughty. He taught me how to smoke cigarettes and talk back to teachers. I saw him intermittently as we both grew up and he remained cheeky and cheerful until, I guess, his date with destiny.

      I love your description of the rink.. cheesy fries and ball bearing grease. I can almost smell the scent right now. Makes me long for those simple days when the worst thing that could happen was tripping over your skate lace and accidentally flashing your underwear.

      Thank you again for reading and for your lovely comment!

  26. Erika Rae says:

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    No wait. Sorry, Jude. I’m not laughing at your cheeky daughter’s…cheek. I mean, seriously. Shame. SHAME on her for suggesting it was your fault. SHAAAAAAME.

    (Are your real cheeks burning pink like the wheels on your speed skates, dear? Sorry about that then. Secret high five behind your mother’s back.)

    My favorite line: “They looked like they didn’t know what to do with their freedom, so they did what they did best and started having sex.” Made me grin out loud. I’d say laugh, but I’m in the children’s room and they are all asleep, so I can’t afford the luxury of a good guffaw right now. Internet time is too precious.

    This was funny, Zeed. Loved it.

    • Zara Potts says:

      E-Dogg!

      It was totally my mother’s fault! I would never have dreamed of letting my bunnies loose unless those skates hadn’t been dangled in front of my greedy little face. Ha!!

      I like that this made you laugh. You have an adorable laugh. I only wish I could hear it in person!
      xx Zeed.

  27. Matt says:

    Zara!

    You really let all those rabbits go? Really?!

    Have we learned nothing from Australia’s tragic history with invasive species?

    And to blame Jude for it….tsk, tsk.

    I never spent much time at the roller rink. I was coming of age right when in-line skates were becoming popular, and you didn’t go to the rink with those, you went urban: beaches, parks, etc. We went to the rink from time to time, mostly for a school or birthday party, but that was it. All I was ever able to do was roll around in a circle.

    Sorry about Craig. For a moment there I was hoping he’d found another form of slippery action in that car late at night.

    • Zara Potts says:

      Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear…

      I really did. I did. I opened those cages and said “Be Free, Bunnies!” and left them to it. I wonder if I am partially responsible for the introduction of the calici virus that the farmers went crazy with a few years back because of the terrible rabbit problem we have.

      Oh dear.

      Oh well. Never mind.

      As for inline skating -yeah, I never got that. Skating is with four wheels or nothing. I never was that fond of ice skating either, come to think of it.

      And poor old Craig. He certainly was a hot shot on the rink. Rest in peace, old friend.

      • Matt says:

        You know all those rabbits destroy kiwi habitation and food sources, right? No wonder the poor things are endangered.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Oh dear.

          Not only am I responsible for the deaths of my baby bunnies, and eco terrorism in my hometown – you are now telling me that I am also responsible for putting my beloved Kiwi on the endangered species list.

          Ruh roh.

          I’m so naughty.

  28. James D. Irwin says:

    ‘Caligula in a cage’ was my favourite phrase of mnay brilliant ones in this piece.

    When I was a kid my brother and I were persuaded to give up our rabits for £10 each. At that age £10 was the equivalent of £1,000 and we accepted. I think we both bought nylon sports shirts, as was the style of the late 90s…

    They were like, the best shirts ever though and we wore them all the time for years. Also rabbits are kind of boring after a while. Cute, granted, but pretty dull.

    • Zara Potts says:

      Ten pounds??? Were they golden rabbits??? That is amazing. I would have probably given my bunnies away for 50p. For the whole gang.

      Thanks for reading, Jim. I’m glad you liked it!

  29. Simon Smithson says:

    Did you ever see Little Miss Sunshine, brew? Yikes. The pageant at the end… God, what do you do with a scene like that?

    You would have loved to see me my first night in the States. I was taken ice-skating; never having done it before, I fumbled and clutched at the edge of the rink, eight year olds were over-taking me. I grabbed at my friend Sara frantically, nearly bringing both of us down.

    And I’m sorry to hear about Craig. My first kiss, too, was a redhead.

    Good work Jude!

  30. Becky Palapala says:

    Oh God. The roller rink. The popular girls. The snowball skate. The people who could do all kinds of cool stuff on skates.

    I could only do intermediate-level cool stuff. I’m pretty sure trying to do cool stuff way outside my aptitude is how I ended up with bad knees.

    To think! But for that one decision, you could have had 123,042,693 bunnies–or their carcasses, anyway–by now.

    • Zara Potts says:

      A million bunnies!!!

      Yeah, I think the roller rink was a tiny microcosm of society. The pretty, rich and popular girls. They dodgy kids skating in the shadows, the naughty ones, the cool ones – the rink had them all.

      You know, you may be on to something with the knees. I have shocking knees too and maybe it’s because of those blody ridiculous twirls I always attempted but never quite managed.

      Damn skating rink!

  31. Lenore Zion says:

    dude i can’t believe you were lusting after a ginger. that’s fucked up.

  32. M.J. Fievre says:

    Zara,

    I love it!!! The sheer innocence of it. And the way sadness is conveyed without being forced.

    “I knew he liked me then because he didn’t say sorry, he just smiled and got up and skated away, leaving me breathless and bruised on the hard blue plastic floor.” My favorite part!

    • Zara Potts says:

      Aww, thanks M.J!
      I know! Boys! So silly -they just love to crash into us and they never apologise. It took me a while to learn that that is how they often say ‘I Love You.”

  33. This was really cool, Zara. And if you had a pair of brand-new roller skates, I’d wish I had the key.

    Ha!

    My sister was always into the rodent-y pets when we were kids. She got two bunnies for Christmas and promptly named them Chocolate Milk and Bunnyhopper. My dad built a hutch, but did so out of pressure-treated lumber.

    Ours didn’t last very long.

    But we had dogs. Big dogs. And then two other rodent-y dogs, later.

    • Zara Potts says:

      Aww, thanks Will! Were we to hang out at the rink, we would dazzle them on the floor, for sure!

      Bunnyhopper is a great name for a rabbit. I’m slightly worried about your cage and the following sentence where you talk about having dogs – Was there any correlation between the bunnies not lasting long and the big dogs?? Yikes!

      I had a whole menagerie of animals when I was a child – ranging from mice to birds to fish and even a goat. But my favourites have always been dogs. Dogs are magic. Even if they chase rabbits.

  34. Oh the things we do for boys..I gave up my white booted skates for the sportier “sneaker” style that were much more in vogue at the time.

    • Zara Potts says:

      Hi Sharon,
      Thanks for reading!
      Wow, I can’t believe you gave up the boot skates! Still – the sneaker ones, were a lot faster.
      Yup, boys – they’re trouble, all right…

  35. Zara! How did I miss this? Doh! Sorry so late to comment!

    I enjoyed reading this. I had a similar situation with pet mice as a kid that reading this piece made me remember. I started with a black one and a white one, and ended up with around thirty little colorful mice crowded into an aquarium. I finally released all of them in a giant hay barn on our farm, complete with mouse food scattered all over for them. For years afterward, we would occasionally see pretty black and white spotted mice running around the farm.

    I also once drove to the country and released a pet rat that had developed an unexplained, yet horrifying thirst for human blood.

    Sorry about Craig’s untimely death. That’s really sad.

    But I loved reminiscing about the roller skating rink with you. And I think you have excellent taste in hair-color. (:

    • Zara Potts says:

      Hello, lovely Tawni!

      I love your mice story!I bet they were very pretty. I had a gang of mice too when I was a kid and I remember them having so many babies, but unlike the bloodthirsty bunnies, they didn’t kill each other. Mice are just the sweetest things ever.

      Wow, your rat sounded mean! You should have called him Count Ratula. Would he just bite people to taste their blood? Naughty rat.

      And yes – redheads are lovely. There’s nothing quite like a mane of golden hair. :-)

  36. Jude says:

    I’ve been too busy flagellating myself to be able to comment any sooner…nevertheless the bunnies have provided great fodder for an excellent story! I like to think of those bunnies occasionally – especially when driving past the industrial area – and I think of the generations who now have life, whereas cooped up in a bunny cage the only certainty they had was death (and in a particularly gruesome way!). So little bunnies run free while Zara reminisces and writes a tale which has so many twists and turns… and on so many different levels. I love this story.

    What a lovely way of paying homage to Craig, who with the twinkle in his eye and his mischievous smile, always somehow seemed destined to leave this earth the way he did. RIP Craig.

  37. Brad Listi says:

    i’m late to the party here, zara, and i suppose it’s possible that someone has already beat me to the punch on this….but this sorta reminded me of a sofia coppola movie.

    does that make any sense?

  38. Irene Zion says:

    Zara,
    Roller Skates are the best thing in the world.
    I would have exchanged my bunny, Eliot Ness, for Roller Skates.

  39. Gregory Messina says:

    Thanks, Zara. This brought back memories of series of birthday parties at the local rink – United Skates of America. The gossip would revolve around who held hands with who while skating.

  40. [...] “Sometimes animals do that,” he said. “When they get nervous.” [...]

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