“Let’s get this show on the road,” uttered my good friend Jim Gagne. He was the reason for the two-hour delay of our scheduled departure. Jim tossed his skateboard and backpack into the trunk of my car, while wearing his big, silver-framed glasses stuck together with Black Label stickers. In stark contrast was Toebee Parkhurst, who, in addition to his large duffel bag, had brought extra boards, shoes, music, and books. Toebee and Jim are two people you wouldn’t imagine being friends. They are almost complete opposites, which brings to mind the saying “opposites attract.”
Jim is from Massachusetts and says the word “wicked” all the time. For example, “This song is wicked good.” Toebee hails from Maine, but spends most of the year in Connecticut. He doesn’t ever use the word wicked. Jim, Toebee, and I were driving to Louisville, Kentucky for the X-Trials the weekend of April 25 and 26.
I’d traveled all over the country with these two, but not the two together. Toebee and I are vegetarians, which means we’re pretty selective on deciding where to eat. But Jim enjoys a good stick of beef jerky and calmly put up with us.
One thing we all agreed on was 80s music. Toebee can’t sing to save his life, but that didn’t stop him from singing every song off key. Jim has an encyclopedic knowledge of 80s, culled from years of working in a Chinese restaurant. Two or three notes into the song, Jim was already yelling out the name of the song, who sang it, and then he’d say, “It’s wicked good.” All this from a man who’d go hours without uttering a word.
When we arrived in Louisville, we got out of my car and almost immediately got into another car heading for Bloomington, Indiana. Talk of good skate spots and mouth-watering pizza fueled us for another two hours of driving. Well, the skate spots were good, but not enough to motivate anyone in our little group after a sixteen-hour drive. And the pizza? Well, let’s just say Indiana isn’t known for its large population of Italians.
We drove back to Louisville and stayed there for five days. We hung out with some old friends, made new friends, ate lots of really great food, and rode our skateboards in a ditch. The ditch was in the middle of a field in a valley. It had good little hits every hundred feet or so that’d launch you high and far. Jim proclaimed the ditch “wicked good.”
Did I mention we attended a contest? Well, we did. The ESPN X-Trials went down with all the usual fanfare that accompanies an event of this caliber. The usual pros showed up and did their things, under the watchful eye of the sweltering Kentucky sun. Everyone did their best, and in the end, Danny Gonzales won the street, and Andy Macdonald won the vert.
One other thing Jim and Toebee agreed on other than 80s music was girls. Both are smooth talkers with the ladies and general Casanovas in their own drastically different ways. After a hard day of qualifying runs, Jim decided that walking around the X-Trial’s site with a twelve-pack under his arm and no shirt on was the right approach for attracting the opposite sex. We didn’t see him for 22 hours.
Toebee took a slightly different approach. One night, while we stood outside of Home skate shop (our unofficial home base for the week), Toebee hopped inside of a car full of girls and roared off into the night. He met up with us hours later at a pool hall, while wearing one of the girl’s fake-fur coats, a feather boa, and a girl on each arm. Toebee told us about a party they’d just been to.
With lots of good skating under our belts, three fairly minor sunburns, and a slightly inebriated Jim, we set our sights on home. After a solid night of driving, 80s sing-a-longs, and junk food, we were back at my house–slightly weary but satisfied.
As Jim and Toebee took off the next morning, I laughed, not about the trip, but because Jim was on his way to purchase a motorcycle that was “wicked cool.”