Chapter III: Fattys
When I was a kid I was fascinated with extreme sports. Dirt bikes, BMX, aggressive inline, all of it. I absolutely savored it. When I was five years old I got my first pair of skates. Pink, purple and completely made of cheap plastic, pretty sure there was a princess or two on them as well, my first set of skates was my prized possession. Not even providing a full boot for your feet to safely rest in, just four wheels, and two straps were meant to hold you together as you bladed across the Hotlanta pavement in the middle summer. As I got older and my feet grew obviously these chunky plastic kids toys no longer sufficed for what had become an obsession.
One afternoon shortly after turning six I came home from school- (this was during the days when you could walk home from the bus stop without your parents being there, this also sparks in my mind we need to discuss my latchkey childhood, but I digress)-I arrived through the door and could hear both of my parents talking which was highly unusual. It was maybe 4pm on a Tuesday, Dad wasn't supposed to be home until 7 and Mom was supposed to be coming in the door with groceries. Something was off, I could feel it when I walked in the house immediately.
But then, my fears lifted because as I came into sight of the kitchen island I saw a box of brand new K2s.
Now, to you lame ass low and loose fuckers that don't know what I'm talking about you can either read the nonsense I'm about to ramble or you can google it. Either is fine with me.
K2's were the epitome of class in the world of inline skating. Exactly what you'd wear if you wanted to be the coolest kid at the skating rink for Friday Rave nights, where occasionally the DJ would get really wicked and play Skinny Puppy. If you wanted to roll with the goths you needed the Fatty's, black boots, black laces, grey tongue.
Black or plaid jencos, mesh long sleeved tops with torn up Nirvana/Ministry shirts from 93, proudly displaying your wallet chain from Tilt. This was your uniform if you wanted to be a cool goth in 96. See that was all I ever wanted, to be goth, older and jaded. To be grown up and free from what I was living in.
What a fucking ambition for a 6 year old to have.
K2's were also expensive, even in the 90's. A couple of hundred bucks for some roller blades, and they were inline, weird considering most of us at that age were on traditional block skates. Not a cheap thing to get for your kid, and not something I was in any way expecting to receive from my parents.
All the same, I walked into the kitchen and there they were. A pair of size 7 K2 Black Fattys. What a dream. I could finally be the coolest kid at the skating rink, be rebellious, spin glowsticks with the goths while listening to Tori Amos. I finally could make friends, because after all, the best friendships are built with people who only care about the things you own right? I could finally be a normal person.
"Rue, we have something exciting to tell you."
"YOU GOT ME FATTYS!!!!!" I exclaimed with a smile so big it made my cheeks hurt.
"We did!!! We knew you wanted them so we got them for you. But, we also have something else just as exciting to tell you."
I gazed confused at them because of the look at concern on my father's face and the hesitation in my mother's voice.
"We're moving to Florida."
Two weeks later, You're Making Me High had just finished playing, the DJ flipping it to Let If Flow on the b side, Toni Braxton voice was owning my last night at the skate rink in Atlanta, not Skinny Puppy as I'd wished. The thick faux fog hung heavy across the rink, owning the air with a chalk dust like command. The taste of the chemicals from the glow stick I'd chewed the top off of stung my lips.
As life would have it of course this was my last time at Rave night and the first and only time I got to wear my Fattys in public. I eagerly brought it to the attention of the older goth kids there that I'd come about such a gift. They rolled their eyes. I was an annoying child after all, younger, desperate for attention, desperate for friends and to fit in, to be normal. I hadn't gotten the approval I'd been seeking and it hurt.
The few friends I 'had' (my mother was friends with their mother's) were of little to no interest to me. They were sweet, and well behaved. I was the farthest thing from that. I was a hyena on speed so desperate for approval that I'd behave in any manner that would afford me attention. The goths represented a level of rebellion that would not only garner me the attention I wanted, but would also set me free from all the gender conforming bullshit I'd be raised in.
Even as a child I new something was kinda queer about myself. My mother loved sewing my clothes, these pink and proper dresses, with bright patterns and capes. Boy oh boy did she love to sew capes and dress me up in them. To her I was a way she could play dress up, a prop that could be shown off proudly to the other women in the neighborhood. It was a status symbol and it gave her a feeling of control. This meant I was to always be clean, proper and dressed to the 9's, but I know now that I wasn't the only one.
All of the little kids on Jamie Way were dressed prim and proper to the 9's. This was of course the 90's when not all women necessarily had to work. Double income homes weren't a thing 90% of us were living with then as the economy had not suffered the Boomer Bust yet. Mother's in suburbia didn't have a lot to do other than the occasional BJ for the hubs and live vicariously through their children in hopes of healing their own childhood wounds. Great fucking plan right?
Knowing from a young age I was a prop and everything was not ok, I came to loathe the feminine facade I was forced to put up so we could keep appearances.
Enter from stage left- goth culture and aggressive inline skating.
If I was going to have to move to Florida.
If I was going to HAVE to live in that hell hole.
IF I WAS GOING TO HAVE TOO LEAVE THE GOTHS, THE RINK AND RAVE NIGHT I WAS GONNA DO IT ON MY GOD DAMNED TERMS.
So. I. did.
I started refusing to wear the cute clothes. Borrowing Dad's gators shirts and sweat pants often, I found myself FAR more comfortable just being physically comfortable. Imagine that? A child being more happy in comfy clothes? I made my mother cut my hair. It was the first step in a transition that even now nearing 30 I've yet to complete.
We'd moved, I knew no one, Florida was sticky. There were cotton mouths everywhere- and we will get to why I mention that later. Gators regularly sat perched at the edge of ponds next to Publix. Despite this discomfort, my mother had seemingly lost the battle of keeping me as her prop as she no longer had an audience to entertain, and simply put I was growing so fast she couldn't keep up with all the sewing. Her mental health was also beginning to decline severely at that point as well. No longer having aforementioned audience meant she herself could no longer attain the high of approval from others.
But alas, enter from stage right- private christian school.
Goths, skaters, punks, faggots, queers and anything out of the norm just wouldn't do. Unfortunately for me, I was already an amalgam of several of those things and pining to assimilate into the culture of the others. Oh what fun this was going to be I thought to myself, all the while knowing PTA, sports and theater activities would allow my mother the ability to regain her audience. Oh what fucking joy.
Now, to a degree I have to step up and defend my parents on this one.
Care for students with any sort of disability was and still is absolutely fucked beyond fucked and shitty beyond shitty in the public school system across the western world. Our school system here is shit and anyone who says otherwise is most likely profiting off of the system remaining shitty. The fact that I took 20MG of adderall daily and had an ADHD diagnosis on my record forced my family to make a choice. They could put in the public school system in Florida where I would be schooled with individuals with developmental disabilities and not be afforded a formal education, or they could put me in private school where as long as they could clear a big enough check I'd be in class with non-developmentally disabled students.
As someone who has taught developmentally disabled individuals I now know they made the right decision as I would not have survived the public school system from beginning to end.
So there I was, navy skirt, button up, trying to talk to Jesus in fucking Florida.
But hey, at least I had my Fattys.
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