Title: Skateboards

Author: Sue Matthew

In: Sport 22: Autumn 1999

Publication details: Fergus Barrowman, March 1999

Part of: Sport

Keywords: Prose Literature

Conditions of use



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Sport 22: Autumn 1999

Sue Matthew — Skateboards

page 136

Sue Matthew


A woman rode past us on a skateboard, held by a man with shoulder-length curly hair. The surface of the skateboard is like sandpaper, like black sand. She has on a short skirt and looks a bit pasty. On either side are men who look coordinated with each other. Baggy shorts, loose cotton shirts and sandals. Does the man who is not holding her hand want to hold her hand? She doesn't scoot along, she's moving along under the steam of the curly haired man.

A man whose arm is gone is coming along. The tattoos on his arm wrap around a stump. He's with his family. His partner and two kids are on roller blades and he holds a crying blonde two-year-old with his one left arm.

Wellington is dressed for summer.

I was thinking about skateboards while I was brushing my teeth this morning. About the orange plastic skateboard I bought from our neighbour for $10.00 in 1977. My brother got a fibreglass Tracks Faze Two. It had pink salmony hibiscus flowers on it. It's still somewhere at Birkenhead, someone painted astrological symbols in red nail polish on the bottom and the flowers now appear submerged under the scuffed fibreglass surface.

We used to spray fly-spray on the wheels to lubricate the ball bearings, and in the evenings the long stretch at the bottom of Hinemoa Street was ours. We didn't do any fancy tricks, except practice 180 and 360 degree turns. We just travelled, shoosh, shoosh, shoosh. Down the cool pohutukawa edged wide road, sideways and back … until we got to the wharf. If you went straight ahead, like I did one hot day further up the road, you'd pick up far too much speed. If you hit a stone or a bump, you'd fly out over the asphalt, picking up gravel page 137 in the scraped bleeding skin of your hands, knees and elbows. My legs are full of old pocky scars.

One time our neighbours' dad took us to a huge reservoir surface in Glenfield. Now it's grassed over but in the mid seventies it was full of skateboarders doing 180s and 360s and it was hot. I had a new bra, my first bra and a blue tank top. I'd have opted to go through puberty in private if I could have. I kept checking because I didn't want the ‘skin’ coloured straps to show. I was thirsty. Concrete and boys on skateboards went on forever.