Nov. 23 2015 03:12 PM

Trying to feel young again through hoverboards or Segways or whatever the hell you call them

I stare at the Groupon. My brain tells me that saving five dollars is not that good of a deal.

I move to close the window, but hesitate.

It's a five-dollar savings.

I send the link to my wife. I ask if she wants one, too.

No reply.

I wait until the end of the day, when we're cleaning up dinner, to bring it up.

"Did you get my email?"

It takes her a minute remember what I'm talking about.

"Oh, the hoverboard Groupon? I didn't think you were serious."

****

I may be going through a mid-life crisis. I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking of ways to stay young. I listen to the same pop-punk music I listened to in high school. I've bought way more clothes at Pac Sun lately than what should be legal for a man of my age. I try to pinpoint when all our interests became so lame: dinner parties, potlucks, mixers, drinking expensive beer, food connoisseurship, shouting about politics on Facebook. What happened to skateboarding, playing in punk bands, drinking on the cheap, keeping secrets, getting hurt, battle wounds, doing something for the thrill rather than the likes?

This carpe diem rabble-rousing ebbs and flows. I get all worked up until I remember that good food, friends and beer are pretty dope. But still, there has to be a middle ground between my lame current interests and the perpetual image of 16-year-old me flipping off current me.

Hence the hoverboard Groupon. Not exactly the flaming symbol of youthful rebellion, but, hey, baby steps.

Also, I know they're not actually hoverboards, but more like Segways with the handles removed. (None of this is helping my call for rebellion, is it?) I've heard people call them hoverboards, Segways and soar boards. I've been obsessed with them ever since I saw a kid riding one down Fairmount Avenue one night. My resulting "WHAT THE FUUUU---" lasted the entire ride home. Then I watched Missy Elliott ride one in her new video and that sealed the deal.

The company that sells the Groupon—Let's Go—calls them "self balancing two-wheel E-scooters." But, c'mon. (Mimes jerk-off motion.)

This isn't the first red flag against Let's Go. Its site looks like a sham. Grammar errors and SEO nonspeak litter the pages. It says it has nine locations around San Diego, but I crunch the numbers and conclude that, if that were the case, the city would be overrun with hoverboarders. I pick the address listed for Balboa Park because I've seen a lot of douchebags on Segways there, and at least I will be with my kind. Plus, Panama 66 is there, and there's no harm in having 16-year-old me wait a hot second while current me gets tipsy on adult-ass craft beer beforehand.

It's eerily quiet for a Friday evening in Balboa Park. There aren't flocks of hoverboarders zooming around, regaling everyone with hoverboard joy. This isn't a good sign. In fact, there's no sign of anything resembling a hoverboard rental business. I call the number on its site. A guy answers, and I begin the conversation with "Is this the hoverboards?"

"Yes."

"I'm at the Balboa Park address listed on your site. I bought a Groupon."

"Oh, you need to make a reservation."

I don't say this, but I want to: "But bro, I've got like a 6.0 percent stout buzz going on and if I wait any longer I'm going to lose my confidence." Instead, I give him my email for him to give me directions on how to make a reservation.

That night, I text a friend to see if he wants to join me: "Any interest in renting a hoverboard tomorrow?" This also happens to be the same night of the terrorist attacks in Paris. It might be the dumbest text I've ever sent.

****

Perhaps the greatest disappointment of getting older is realizing your actual abilities stop living up to how you perceive them. It's been a long time since I've been able to do a kick-flip. I can no longer drink really anything without feeling it the next day. And the first thing I think of when stepping onto that hoverboard is this is really hard.

Ana from Let's Go holds both my hands. She's great and patient and doesn't make fun of the way my legs spasm when I'm on the board. The way she holds me, it's like we're dancing.

My legs acclimate. Ana passes me off to my wife. "Just be back in an hour," Ana says. We begin our slow journey through the park, wife leading me like I'm an old man.

Going up inclines is tough, and each approaching crack in the sidewalk instills in me the fear of broken wrists.

"Sorry, can you hold onto my shoulder? You're hurting me," my wife says. She removes her hand from mine and wrings the sweat off of it.

Soon, I'm hovering with no assistance. No doubt, I look like an a-hole, especially considering that I've found placing my hands at my hips, Missy Elliott-style, helps my balance. Strangers stop and ask me about it. Most just give me the "are you fucking kidding me?" look.

But I can't deny how fun it is, and looking like a moron is no small part of it. I tell my wife I want one for Christmas. We finish up and return the board. Walking on two legs sucks. The next day, my calves are sore. They're the lamest battle wounds I've had in long time, but they're still battle wounds.


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