[Hobbles in, limping grotesquely] Oh, is that
you, Marie? [Groan] I'm glad you came over to see me, 'cause I'm
most dead. I ain't been behind my counter fer five days now, and day before
yesterday I was in bed with my nerves. Honest, I thought I'd had a stroke.
[Pause] I look bad? Say, you orter seen me Monday morning. My nose
puffed up like a apple dumpling, both eyes swelled green, like I'd been
in a prize fight, a lump on me head like a waste basket, to say nothing
of bruises infernal. Am I well? Far be it from such. Huh? I said I had
bruises infernal, that's what the doctor said. Oh, ain't you cute! Infernal
means the lower regions, does it? I guess I know that, that's where them
bruises are at. Did I git run into by a ottymobile? I did not! Ner a streetcar,
neither. I been learning to skate on roller skates. And never agin fer
Minnie, never no more! Roller skates? I'm off'n 'em fer life. You know
Grady--that's my new fi-nan-say--he's just clean dippy about exercise
and sports. He does stunts at the gym and takes the Physical Magazine,
'n ever'thing. He said roller skates had him going, so I fell fer 'em
against my will. He said it was just as easy as anything, if you knew
how. The heard part is learning to know how. He wanted to take me to the
rink Sunday night, an' I didn't wanta show my ignorance before the whole
gang, so over I goes Sunday afternoon to take a few hours' lessons on
the quiet. Quiet, did I say? It was a scream. When I went into the place
I saw the instructor skating around the rink by himself, and sometimes
he skated with only one foot. One foot, Marie! It looked easy to me and
I thought in ten minutes I'd be doing the same, but I didn't. Far be it
from such. I told him what I wanted and he gave me a pair of skates. I
sat down and he put them on for me, and just then he was called away to
see another girl who had just come in. She'd already had four lessons,
but even at that, she was wobbly. You'd orter saw her, Marie. She weighed
250, if she weighed an ounce, and when she skated--it was like a feather
bed out on the clothes-line in a thunderstorm. I kept saying in my mind,
"Min, go on and skate, you kin do it, you kin do it, go on and skate,
you kin, you kin!" So I stood up as brave as Casey the cop,
but I sat down as quick as I stood up. Woof, and both my feet went out,
like that. [Gesture] Did I fall to the floor? Well, I fell. I think
the floor was there; if it hadn't a been I'd gone on through to the cellar.
I saw stars from the skies that I never knew was there. I loosened all
the bridge work in my upper jaw, and if ever a girl had discussion of
the spine, I was that lady. I was so dazed I just sat there on the floor
for five minutes and collected myself. Then I tried to get up. [Pause]
Did I do it gracefully? Far be it from such. I just couldn't make my feet
behave; each one wanted to go--but they didn't want to go in the same
direction. I tried to crawl for my chair but just then that feather bed
lady came floating by me like a fairy. I knew she was going to hit me--and
she knew it--but what could we do about it? Blooey! It was some spill.
The instructor rushed up and assisted me to my chair, then he started
out with me and we got along fine--as long as he held me up. Oh, of course
I ran into things. Whenever I'd get to going good I had to take my choice
of hitting the wall standing up, or hitting the floor sitting down. By
that time the room was full of skaters. I ran right into people that I
didn't care to meet, at all. Sometimes they weren't in my set, but we
both set together. Then the instructor came over again and said to me:
"You're getting it down all right!" I told him to mind his own
business. Then a nice-looking fat man and I skated along together. Neither
one of us intended to skate together, we just couldn't help ourselves.
Every time we'd meet we'd both turn out for each other at the same side.
Then my feet went backward and I went forward. I thought the heavens had
busted and hailstones of fire were raining in on me. That was the end.
They had to carry me to a taxi and send me home. And I've been home ever
since. No, thanks, Marie, I won't sit down. I prefer standing, if it's
all the same to you. It's much more comfortable for me. No more skating
for me, even if I lose Grady. It's easy enough to get a new fin-an-say,
but no more roller skates for Minnie. Exercise? Far be it from such!
Credits: Reprinted from Readings and Monologues À La Mode.
Walter Ben Hare. Minneapolis: T.S. Denison & Co., 1921.
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