Diary Friday: “I’ll Call Him Lance, Cause He Looked Like Lance Kerwin.”

Every Friday night in high school my friends and I would descend upon “Ocean Skate”, the local roller rink. It was always an evening full of flirtation, agony, doom, joy, music, and hormones. Here is a diary entry from my sophomore year in high school (I am 15 years old, in other words), which describes two such nights at the roller rink.


Oh, I went skating tonight. I haven’t been since October, and I had leant my punk glasses to the DJ. [I have no idea what you are talking about. First of all, I fear to learn what you think “punk glasses” means. Also, why are you lending your glasses to the DJ at Ocean Skate?] He is SO nice. I think his name is Dave. We (Mere, me, and Dolores) got our skates and the first thing I did was skate over to say Hi to Dave. I lumbered up the steps and yelled over the music, “Hi! Member me?” [Subtext: Give me back my “punk glasses”.] And he nodded and went, “Oh yeah!” And see, I had on this pink and black garter on my arm as a joke [Oh. My. God.] and to torture Mere – she gave it to me for Christmas. So Dave plucked it and said, “What’s this? Did you go and get married on me?” We asked him to play some Devo, and some of The Clash. [Ah, now I see why I was sucking up to the DJ. I wanted to control his music choices.] We also asked him to play Stray Cats and Adam Ant.

[Devo. The Clash. Stray Cats. Adam Ant. That, in a nutshell, is my adolescence.

Then we all zoomed out onto the rink. What a feeling! It’s weird, but I feel pretty when I’m out there. [Don’t break my heart, teenage Sheila.] There are all these crazy lights and people, and we go so fast. We skated, we talked to Dave, and when our songs came on, we screamed, and went crazy, and waved our thanks up to Dave as we zoomed by.

I pleaded with Dave to play ‘Jerkin’ Back and Forth’ [Sheila, stop bothering Dave.] and when he put it on, he said into the mike: “And this is for South Kingstown…”

Take that, stupid Narragansett.

[Narragansett was my high school’s main rival. But … what am I saying here? Narragansett kids DIDN’T like Devo? I’m sure they did. Maybe because asking him to play Devo in a venue where normally you were hearing Lover Boy gave us some level of cultural cache? My reasoning is opaque here. ]

Katy and Jen were there, and – (drumroll) – so was my mystery skater! O.K. Long story, I’ll tell it later. [I despise how much I use that stupid “drumroll” in my high school diaries. It’s so dramatic. I’m embarrassed.]

Anyway, I kept my eyes open for him all night and I saw two of his friends. They all look alike. Tall, dark, curly hair, good skaters, nice guys – but I didn’t see him. Actually, they’re all gorgeous. But I didn’t see my favorite.

Then, at around 10:30, after we had taken off our skates and were sitting at a table, HE glided by. I looked up and saw his face – I’ve only seen it about 5 times. His face! [Weirdly, I remember the “mystery skater’s” face. We never spoke.] He has big eyes, curly hair, a wide mouth, a blue shirt untucked. I squealed and went, “He’s here!” and then I couldn’t find him to point him out to Mere and Dolores. I went, “That’s him!” and pointed at him. [Subtle, Sheila. Reeeeel subtle.] They both looked. I just stared and stared. He seems so nice! [God. That’s the hook, ain’t it. They can be gorgeous as all get-out, but if they don’t “seem nice”, who gives a crap? This is still the case for me.]

Anyway, he noticed that that I was gaping at him, so I saw him duck behind his friends and he must have said something like, “Who’s that?” because they both then turned around. Immediately, my eyes flew off elsewhere.

OH! And I skated up to ask Dave to play something [Sheila. Leave the DJ alone.] and this other kid was there. He had short “Men at Work” cropped hair [hahahahahahaha], a blue Watershed shirt, and he went, “Play some J. Geils. But not ‘I Do’.” And I said, “Oh wait – no, please play ‘I Do’!” And he gave me this weird look and I said to Dave, “Oh, and play some Clash!” And the guy went, “Yeah, play Clash. Anything but funk.” I felt like screaming “A MAN AFTER MY OWN HEART!” [Sheila, you need to calm down. Now. Also what’s wrong with funk?]

Mere and I went roller-skating. It was great! The music was fabulous. When they played “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” I zoomed off, bouncing, singing, dancing – the whole place went nuts. I feel so great out there, my hair lifting up as I zoom around —

O.K. Listen. They have a new skating aide who skates around backwards looking for accidents and falls. They have about four of them (aides, not accidents) and they’re all SUCH great skaters, weaving, jumping — Anyway, this new guy — [Uh oh.] He must be about 17 or 18 and he’s a little taller than me and really thin (but muscular) and he has thick blond hair (sort of feathered but curly too). He has a really cute face and a wide mouth. He was wearing a tight black and white striped T shirt and tight faded jeans [In other words, devastatingly hot.], and also a pin that said “I’m the one your mother warned you about.” [Oh, for God’s sake.] But he didn’t seem egotistical. [For real?] He loved chasing people, and all the little kids there loved him. I loved watching him skate – legs flying, arms pumping … he seems so — I don’t know — nice. [Once again, it is clear. You can be the hottest thing ever in your tight T-shirt and feathered hair, but if you don’t “seem nice” you are doomed.]

I watched him like a hawk all night. His face is now engrained in my mind. [Sheila, you sound insane. Take it down a notch.] He teased one of his friends about something, so his friend started chasing him and when his friend caught up he grabbed (I’ll call him Lance, cause he looked like Lance Kerwin) [That’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever read in my life. He looked like Lance Kerwin.] Lance’s wrists and they started playfully wrestling as they skated along, Lance was going backwards, with the other guy holding his wrists, and I just remember Lance’s laughing face and lithe movements. [I find this entire scene hotly homoerotic.] His top lips were sort of flat and pointy and his grin was lopsided and cheerful. Anyway, he was adorable, and then at about 11:00 when we were waiting for Dad [Dad!! Coming to pick up his teenage daughter and her friends. Heartcrack], my mystery man came in. He was wearing a waist-length gray and blue coat. Oh God, he is so cute. The way he leaned on one elbow at the counter and sauntered around in his Pony sneakers. [HAHAHA] Just the way he looked around with his big eyes, and waved at his friends by flipping his fingers at them, and shaking hands with them. Like they were grown-up men. I notice the little things. [Uh, yeah, Sheila, we noticed. Wow.]

It was a really good night.

And today I worked at the soup kitchen again, ladling out soup for the poor [You know. “The Poor(TM)”], and Kevin was there. What a sweet kid. He is so nice. [Find another word, Sheila.] It was weird, washing dishes with him, etc. OH! And Beth invited me to a basketball game in Providence and am I glad I went! First of all, I adore basketball and I get very hyper about it and secondly, those college kids are so cute. Oh God, please bear with me. [No.] The team members seem like they’re really nice to each other [Broken record.], they slap each other on the back … and the two teams (URI and West Virginia) were also so kind to each other. If a URI man fell over, a West Virginia guy would help him up. [Wow. Let’s nominate them for a Nobel Peace Prize.]

And — o.k. — Rusty (Cordua??) – a great URI player — and he’s a freshman. He has curly hair. He seems very confident and nice. [Ibid.] At the next home game, I’m gonna wait and meet him when he comes out of the locker room. [Sheila, for the love of God, PLEASE DON’T DO THAT.]

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9 Responses to Diary Friday: “I’ll Call Him Lance, Cause He Looked Like Lance Kerwin.”

  1. Dan says:

    //Devo. The Clash. Stray Cats. Adam Ant. That, in a nutshell, is my adolescence.//

    One thing the 80s had was a great soundtrack for anyone who was a teen then.

  2. sheila says:

    Totally. I’m surprised Corey Hart wasn’t represented. Funny thing is: I STILL listen to Devo, The Clash and Stray Cats. Adam Ant not so much although I have a couple of his songs on the iPod.

  3. Dan says:

    Adam Ant (to me) was always a singles guy – you got ‘Goodie Two Shoes’ and ‘Strip’ and you’re good to go.

    I’ve come to appreciate the Clash more as I’ve gotten older. The recent Joe Strummer documentary, and some podcasts of his old radio show, kinda made me take a second look. Gotta get some of his solo stuff now.

  4. sheila says:

    Funny thing is: I was pretty much a pop-music person in high school, unlike my brother who was really into the underground stuff. The Clash, and their relevance, and what they represented, was lost on me – it was just that they got a ton of radio play with Rock the Casbah and Should I Stay or Should I Go. It was that second one that I really loved. It was only later, when I removed myself from the Top 40 world, that I really got what The Clash was all about.

    And then of course, there’s this: http://www.sheilaomalley.com/?p=44131

  5. Matt Blankman says:

    Is it a feeling in the heart or is it something you can’t name? Whoa-whoa-James singin’ whoa-whoa James.

    This immediately got stuck in my head when I got to the Lance Kerwin reference


    • sheila says:

      hahahahahahaha Bless you for remembering!

      • carol says:

        I absolutely loved that show,and Lance Kerwin. Wasnt it James at 16,then James at seventeen?? He dont need no walking stick….am I remembering that right??!! You made me smile again tonight Sheila. Read your Eight is Enough article. I commented there last night. I too went roller skating every weekend. Wonderful memories….

        • sheila says:

          Yes, James!! And – I also remember him (my first encoutner with him) on an ABC Afterschool Special called something like “Marv Hammerman is After Me.” I loved it and would scour the TV Guide every week to see if it was being replayed. He also (why do I remember such things) did a TV movie called Sideshow, which took place in a decadent traveling circus. He was the young newbie whose innocence was lost in the company of the carnies. I would love to see that again as well!

          • Matt Blankman says:

            Somehow I never realized until watching the opening credits again that James’ mother was played by Lynn Carlin, who co-starred in Cassavetes’ FACES. How cool is that?

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