Friday, April 26, 2013

My Favorite Place to Create Autism Magic and Celebrate a Birthday!

My most favorite place in the whole world is Hyde Park Roller Magic about 35 minutes away from my house.  My paternal figure, I mean…my father always said that the one thing you can count on in this life is change.  The sooner you make friends with change the easier your life will become.  This is easier said than done, as we all know.  We fight to hold on and beg for mercy and circumstances around us are altered and we cling for dear life.  We hold onto the past and present in a pathetic fashion…even though there is virtually no hope of sustaining this predictability.  For this reason, I continue to return to Roller Magic even though it is no longer age appropriate.  It was a pastime from those carefree days of childhood yore and yesterday from age five to twelve.  It has only been a source of drama and strife once when my dad broke his wrist there when I was six years old.  I remember the trauma of him yelling at me as I was skating.  Darnit!  I am going to be in trouble again and a spanking is in the near future!  Then I saw the big bag of ice and realized that something else had happened and we would have to make an early trip back home.

The only thing that tends to change are the music and the video games.  I was a child of the 1980s…for crying out loud.  The video games that used to be housed at Roller Magic once made sense.  They were not games of chance, but skill.  And there was never any winner…ever!  We just kept playing and playing and playing as the levels became harder.   Donkey Kong…Pacman (the first virtual symbol of compulsive, overeating, by the way), and of course…that Galaga game with those crab-like spaceship monsters that mercilessly attacked you as you tried to fend them off!  The games just became harder and harder until you finally died every single time.  Kind of like life, but a lot more fun dying a spectacular death!  As frustrating as it was, it always compelled us children of the 1980s to rise to a greater level and try harder.  Good was not as good as excellence.  We were motivated to strive for excellence with these games.

The music has changed.  I miss the Ghostbusters theme music, but have embraced the tween music of the 21st Century!  But one of these days the staff at Roller Magic should look up archives of the every piece of music played during the 1980s and play it for the sake of us adults looking to take a blast into the past once in a blue moon.  Please Roller Magic in Hyde Park…take me to the moon and back with your relentless nostalgia.

In a world where not everything is fair and good people are maimed in the most tragic ways possible while simply running a marathon…I skate at roller magic because it is my sanctuary…synagogue…church…mosque…or whatever keeps outside demons at bay.  The obsession was revived only a couple of years back when I returned after having nothing better to do that particular day.  The dormant seeds were suddenly in full bloom again and I was hooked.  I continued coming back for more and eventually let go of the fear that people would begin to see me as creepy for hanging around a place mostly frequented by children.

For the past four years…I have had three of my birthday celebrations at this beautiful Roller Skating paradise and the only virtual remnant of my childhood is Ms. Pacman and Soccer Pinball machine that barely works.  But so what?  Every human being must accept change, but needs to draw the limit somewhere!  In this world where there is little constancy and sometimes no mercy…there is always at least one music-enriched oasis in the desert!  Someplace you can count on to stay the same and house these memories from yesterday and the few thousand days before that.  On my birthday we skated up a typhoon and the two hours the rink allotted went so very fast.  But it was better than the previous birthday when the cake was not as huge and they somehow talked me into wearing the big mascot suit of the giraffe mixed with some alien creature!  I looked at that costume and immediately had a sinking feeling.  “Have you washed that thing lately?”  It felt like a furnace inside that thing…but I did the best I could to entertain the kids during the hokey pokey.  On a final note, how do the poor souls in Disney World do it?  Do they have some kind of high-powered air conditioning mechanism in side that Donald Duck or Goofy shell?  It takes a lot of work to make childhood fantasies come true, but sometimes we have to seize it for ourselves!

I would like to offer my sincere appreciation to my local community for attending and helping to raise so much money for the autism foundations that helped me plan the event.  All of the proceeds from ticket sales went directly to the Autism Move-a-thon of Orange County (AMOC) and the Hudson Valley Autism Society.  We even had a young celebrity in attendance named, Eric Orzell!  He is the little boy who was chosen as the poster boy for autism in New York State.  You may see him licking a lollipop just about everywhere.  I had his photograph printed on the cake along with one of me skydiving.

In my speech to my guests, I remarked how wonderful it is to have a place like Hyde Park Roller Magic in my life that makes me feel welcome.  It is critical to lionize certain businesses that are kind to those on the autism spectrum.  I know that if I actually did say something inappropriate then it would be nothing more than just a bad day.  Furthermore, it is my intention to have subsequent birthday celebrations at this roller skating haven until I become the oldest man to have a party at Roller Magic.  Nobody has received thank you cards yet and hopefully they do not take it personally.  It has just been so difficult these days keeping up with all of the business e-mails and travel schedule.  Notes of gratitude have to be placed on a backburner for just a little while longer.

Hopefully you will also find your own “Roller Magic” in this world that is relentlessly changing and is not always fair.  There has to be one thing you can count on especially considering we have already lost our beloved Twinkies.  Sure…they were toxic in large doses and made from the same ingredients used for envelope glue.  But they were part of our childhood experiences and we must find something else!

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