Toner 17

Toner 17
By Kevin Wilkins

Hindsight is fun for everyone.

You can use your imagination-just like they taught you on PBS-and pretend to visit the past.

Look behind you, fool.

If you’re reading this, your history is surely overrun with skateboarding-places, people, tricks, styles, photos, captions, and all. If not, you might just be poking around for some television-ad ideas. Either way, what I said earlier is still true-hindsight is for everyone! Make a mental note.

When I visit my past, it’s usually to some skate spot I remember from when I first started skating. Back then, I was just learning stuff, and my parents only let me borrow the car when I was passing classes. So most of my escapes were limited by my abilities or by the distance I could push or pedal. That made for a fairly small radius-the center of which was my bedroom (another sweet skate spot!), but it included every single thing a skateboard would roll across.

A lot stuff about that era sucked, so when I use hindsight, I drive my own car, my board is shaped better, and I take my current skills with me.

You’re damn right, I do.

Just off the top of my head, I can think of about sixteen or seventeen places that I visited more than 50 times and skated for longer than four hours straight. Most of the locations aren’t even worth mentioning today-grindable curbs, shockingly low benches, or bubbly mini ramps. But there’s still one I think about a lot today. Seriously, almost every single day. When I pretend I can visit the past using hindsight-which, as I mentioned earlier, is for everyone-this is the spot I go to every time.

It was called The Fishbowl, and my friends and I built up a mythology around the tiny cement pond that’s worthy of any and all sappy sentiment-even for those who never visited its beautiful curves. The Fishbowl sat in the middle of a vacant lot, 50 yards from a row of dusty rental homes on the north, and 200 yards from anything else south, east, or west.

The legend says that there used to be a house on the lot, a mansion or some other epic structure, and it burned down, or fell down, or got knocked down-either way, it was down. In the yard of that downed house was a decorative cement fish pond-two miniature bowls connected by a miniature channel through which fat goldfish once swam to hang out with other equally fat goldfish.

The garden that the pond was situated within was once expertly landscaped and continuously manicured-an old sagging shade tree told us so. Plus, my friend Tom’s mom’s friend knows somebody who used to be friends with the old owners. They were super rich. They had their own personal one-lane bowling alley, an icebox dedicated solely to keeping a keg cold, and the first elevator in the entire state-slowly and extravagantly lifting them from the first floor all the way up to the second.

As far as anyone knew.

The Fishbowl was the first place I dropped in. It was only two or three feet deep, but so what? I dropped in! In an age before mini ramps, The Fishbowl was there to turn me on to the joys of axle stalls, carve grinds, rock ‘n’ rolls, disasters, lien to tails, rolling in, and of course, the proverbial crailtap.

To add to the mystique of the place, there were only like five or ten of us who could even skate the damn thing. So odd and obtuse were its walls, and so kinked were its transitions, that only a Fishbowl frequenter could truly appreciate its beautiful flaws.

Today, there’s a contemporary office complex on the spot where The Fishbowl stood for so many years. I see it almost every day. No one who goes there to get a root canal or hire a lawyer knows that they are treading on the sacred resting place of our local mecca-the catalyst for thousands of hours of obsessive fun and stewed mayhem.

And that’s fitting, I guess.

Through all those years, the only other persson in the world who even gave The Fishbowl a second thought was the crazed lunatic down the street who took it upon himself to jackhammer the poor pool into a pile of gravel and rebar-for the hell of it.

Just so you know, when I use hindsight-which is for everyone-and travel back to the time of The Fishbowl, lots of you are there, too. It’s a big session, we all have perfect vision, and we’re carving around super fast, occasionally stopping on the hip to grab a nose, pivot on a tail, and drop back in.

Also for the hell of it.