As I waited for a traffic light to change today, I noticed a teen-ager on his skateboard maneuvering the intersection. He was careful. I could tell because of the way he alertly glanced toward each lane of potential traffic as he crossed with the signal from East to West, and then (because as yet there was no flow of traffic either direction) he crossed from North to South and down the street. Had he no board he would need to be jogging at least to make that distance in equal time. So I pondered the compared health factors between the good exercise of jogging which he was avoiding, and the coordination skills and sheer athletic ability required to propel his board as smoothly and as efficiently as he did. Maybe it was a trade off, and since the board was obviously more fun than jogging, I suppose he was on the right track.
Now when I was a kid, skateboarding meant something else. There was no such thing as the commercially manufactured boards such as I saw today. We had roller skates--you know the kind with 4 wheels on each foot. The insane invention of in-line skates had not yet been perpetrated either. When our roller skates began to get worn and we were begging our parents for a new pair, we used the old pair to make skateboards. This was usually a scrap 2x4 and an orange crate. The local grocer had oranges delivered to him in wooden crates. They may have been 24" by 36" or somewhere thereabouts. We nailed these crates to the 2x4 as a front grille of the conveyance. The 24" side of the crate was nailed flat to the 2x4, with two smaller pieces of wood attached to the top diagonally for handle bars. Since these skates were made to come apart into two sections of tandem wheels, we simply nailed one section under the front portion of the 2x4 and the other section to the rear. That was a skateboard when I was a kid.
Today there are many sizes and shapes, and I suppose there are custom made models as well. My granddaughter used a longboard. I've observed many different sizes and composition wheels. They are all much more silent than our old skateboards, I'll have to admit. And when I see x-games with jumps and twists on the half pipe, my mouth drops in amazement. I cringe at tricks that have gone afoul, such as riding a hand rail pipe, and falling to the crotch, or when a curb or stone suddenly removes the board from under the feet of a speeding rider and he loses skin.
I remember my son used to ride around his base in the Air Force on a skateboard. He carefully read the rules, and determined that he did not need to salute officers when he was in transit with some sort of conveyance. Although those who wrote the manual may never have anticipated this scenario, he found this a legitimate way of tweaking the nose of authority, which has always been his favorite amusement. Ya gotta love him.