He was dressed in a green robe, the remnants of his alien Halloween outfit. Only, the mask was long gone by then, discarded with his sneakers in order to make way for the roller skates. I watched the way that he moved, the way that a huge smile played upon his face, how his broad nose scrunched up as he would move forward with such determination. He would take three faltering steps forward, then lurch, and hold out his arms to catch himself.
The movement struck me as oddly familiar. Perhaps it was the green robe down to his ankles, but for some reason, Tiger seemed to be uncannily recreating some of the dance moves from "The Inquisition" in "History of the World, Part One," when Mel Brooks starts into a little ha-cha with his dancing monks.
I stepped on to the rink and started to make my way over to him, keeping an eye out for the other skaters as they effortlessly skipped across the skaterink.
I had never really been much of a skater. I remember trying one time in high school, going out with my friends Mary-Beth and Pauline. Ah, I had tried to be a good sport, kept them on all night long, but truth be told, I wasn't very good. Always jealous of those guys who made it look so easy. Still am, actually.
Mary-Beth and Pauline had been so good to me, encouraging me, holding my hands, then letting me go, on my own, and laughing hysterically as I would fall on my ass.
"Come on, Ted, you can do it," I remembered Mary-Beth calling out, at least ten times that night. Always so encouraging, but I knew in my heart that I was never going to be playing in the roller derby any time soon.
"Come on, Tiger, you can do it!" I called out, mimicking my dear friend. Then I grabbed his arm and ruffled his soft brown hair.
"I think I'm getting it!" he called out, and started to take three more frantic steps, then lost his balance and clung on to the railing.
I looked over at Josie, who had a huge grin on her face. She was wearing the alien mask as a hat. Tj was obviously cracking her up. It was nice, to see her smile like that. I hadn't seen that much lately.
"That's all he's been saying all the way around," she informed me. And danged if he didn't another fifty times. That kid just would not give up. He'd fall down, pick himself up, or start to fall, we'd catch him, or start to fall, then grab on to the rail. We had all the Moms cheering us on as we made our way around that rink over and over again.
And you know what? The kid really did get a lot better by the end of the night. I was really proud of my little guy. One of the things I always say to Tiger is not to give up, to keep trying, to not take "I can't" for an answer. I do it because I don't believe that kids can ever hear those words enough. And my little Tiger's not going to take no for an answer in this world, no way, no how.
(Fade out: Rollerskating around rink, just one last time.)