Sunday, July 23, 2006

Roller Derby Carwash

There is a crowd of women washing cars near the corner of Merrill and Rio Nada streets in front of the tire shop. They are scantily clad. Some are skinny. Some are portly. Some have tattoos. There are redheads, blondes and brunettes. Many are holding handmade signs that say "Roller Derby Carwash" or "Roller Girls Will Wash Your Car". Many are shouting and squealing at people with dirty cars. They all have a girlish, dollish quality about them. And they all have roller skates on. The kind with four wheels on each skate.

And I suspect they could knock me on my ass.

My dad used to take my brother, Brother Atom Bomb of Destruction, and myself to the Swing Auditorium in San Bernardino to watch Roller Derby. We often went with our German neighbors
from across the street, Grandma Vokker and her son Johnny.

The Swing held about 5,000 people and was usually full on Roller Derby night.

Our favorite team was the Los Angeles Thunderbirds with Ralphie Valederez and his wife Honey Sanchez, redheaded Danny Riley, and Stretch Saunders. They would always win when in the L.A. area. They played teams like the San Francisco Bombers, the New York Wildcats and the Texas Rangers. These were the teams that always cheated and played dirty.

Shirley Hardman was on the Rangers. She was THE ENEMY. One night she wore an outrageous beehive hairdo and the T-Birds spent the entire night trying to destroy it. She drowned many years later and even though she was a cheater and THE ENEMY , I was sad to hear of her death.

We would all scream and shout when the T-Birds would launch The Whip and rocket one of our T-Birds around the course knocking down Rangers left and right, leaving them writhing on the track or in the infield and scoring millions of points. Every now and then one of the cheaters would careen into the infield and hit the water cooler, sending water everywhere.

There is something archetypical about the Roller Derby struggle between good and evil. It may not be enlightening, but the Universe moves a mite more comfortably with Roller Derby around. I feel guilty that I didn't get my car washed.


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