I know I am not the only person who remembers going to birthday parties to eat pizza and stumble around on roller skates at Roller King when I was younger. I remember eating huge slices of pizza and drinking more soda than my mother would have ever liked. I remember my friends bringing large, beautiful birthday cakes, and eating that, too, to the point where it was unbelievable that I could still function with eight small wheels underneath my feet. I remember skating on the carpet that covered the arcade and food court, comfortably enough to where I did not wobble and had no fear of falling. And I remember then braving the step-down from the eating area, and the roll towards the slick, fast-paced skating rink.
It was organized chaos in that rink. Everyone generally skated in the same direction, but there were some, like me, who would often fall or slam against the wall to prevent a fall, causing small traffic jams. There were also those who would zoom past everyone else, and startle us beginners, without a care in the world. Once in a while, the DJ in the corner would stop everything and begin organized skating games. We played red light, green light, sharks and minnows and sometimes even staged races. It was all great fun.
I loved the layout of the place, too. How convenient that everything be carpeted except the rink, to appeal to those less skilled skaters like me. And how convenient that the wall separating the food court and the skating rink be so short on the food court side, so that the boring adults could still sit at their tables and watch the young-ins slipping and sliding. How convenient that the arcade be clear on the other side of the building from the rink, so that no one would worry about being crashed into as they battled it out in air hockey.
It is because of all this that when I was surfing the Internet and found the facility had shut down at the end of March I was filled with great lament. The site said the owner had retired. All I could think was, "Why did nobody tell me?!" Roller King was always there as I grew up. It's unbelievable that it wasn't somehow immortal. But now it's gone ... and I never got to say goodbye.