A leap o’courage
I bought RollerBlades™ when I first moved to New York. I’m athletic but chickenshit, and so poorly coordinated that I usually try to catch an entirely other ball. Not a good combination for skating. Growing up, I used to borrow my next-door neighbor’s bootskates and persuade her little sister to let me push her stroller in a covert Zimmer-frame action. My parents didn’t help by giving me strap-on skates one Christmas. There was a special key to adjust the size but alarmingly, they’d self-adjust while I was halfway through a tentative turn. The front wheel would shoot out ahead and I’d skin my knee.

It took me 18 months to bring my RollerBlades to Central Park. I hobbled to the Cherry Fountain, where the little kids with training wheels on their Christmas bikes shouted ‘Don’t let go, Daddy!’ My Daddy had long since abandoned me. I pretended to be nonchalant, as if I’d decided to take a break from Heartbreak Hill by going round and round this little fountain for a while. But terror showed in my Simpsons overbite of concentration. One Culkin-sized boy decided to encourage me, in between coaching his small sister on her bike.

‘Y’know, I used to be scared, too, when I was younger and I learned to skate. But all it takes is a leap o’courage.’
Bugger off, American brat. I don’t need your pity.