My old man said he accidentally nailed the first 900 in '97 while fuckin' around at a party. I believe it. Everyone was filming everything back then, especially parties, but they did smack that night and most were nodded. Besides, he'd always admitted it was an accident. I don't understand why no one else believed him.
At his funeral reception I asked all his old buddies still alive about that night. We had been drinking and they told the truth, that since there's no footage it's just a joke. My old man was on the half-pipe almost dawn while they were all loaded or out cold. He sniffed some speed and stepped out and it was barely bright when he busted inside and woke them all up, screaming about landing it.
They remember that, of course. They said he looked either like he really did just nail the first nine or was only strung out of his gourd. They and everyone else I've spoken about it with say it's obviously the latter, that he lied or was wrecked enough to believe himself. There was one other guy though, they told me, who was wide awake when it happened, had a tolerance like my old man, and if I really wanted to find out I should look him up. They said they didn't even know for certain if he was still around, but that if I needed the story ended I'd have to at least try and find the guy.
So one of them gave me his last known spots since he never had a permanent address and I went hitting them one by one. The first was a park full of scooters so he couldn't have been there, the second was a park closed for demolition, and the third was one that had already been torn down for a parking lot. There were other spots besides parks and I tried to hit those too, but the only few I found still up had skatestoppers on each ledge and rail. I was sweating to find the guy and wanted to give it up, but couldn't. I had some coffee and rolled a spliff to help me out, but had to bum a light from a hobo in a wheelchair.
He said sure, that sharing is caring and winked. We shared the spliff and shot the shit. I didn't ask him much but we just kept talking and once we ditched the roach he took out some speed and offered me a bump. I said no thanks, and told him addiction runs in my family so all I do is get stoned and drink some beer because of that. He laughed and said I reminded him of someone he knew way back when he could still walk, let alone skate.
I wasn't surprised that he told me he used to skate, everyone did, but it felt like I did take a bump when he told me I must be my father's son. He said he recognized my face once he cared to look at it, and that I'd probably end up just like my old man with the drugs. I told him my old man died and he said it made sense and that he wished he was dead himself but he's a Catholic and can't shoot himself or roll off a bridge much as he wants to.
I skipped right to it, I asked the guy if he ever skated with my old man and he laughed and gave me a look like I should have already known the answer was yes. I didn't grow up with my old man as my father, though, and he never told me shit except that he landed the first 900 accidentally one night, but there's no footage. That's how I responded.
He told me yeah, that's what my old man came running in shouting that night, but then told me that, if you'd ask him, Danny Way gets the credit on the whole since he's the one who proved it possible in the first place. It was in a Santa Cruz video seven years before my old man's story even started.
Then he went on and on about how none of it matters because without the invention of the ollie kids would still be sliding downhill streets. I'd always known that, but needed to be reminded. I asked him if his offer of a bump was still standing. He tapped some out of the bag and onto my hand and it tasted like gasoline. He said that means it's good.
I've got no clue when the first wheel was made, but if my old man told me that he crafted it I'd have tried to find out if it was true. I'm glad he didn't, I'd still be tracking down old friends and pressing them on it. Still, even if he might have crafted that first wheel, someone would eventually have given credit to the ground since a wheel would have nowhere to roll without it.
Life's all about truth, however it happens. You've got to find out the truth about things, or at least what you think it is before you find out that's only the beginning of the story. I've always had a father that I called dad, but I wanted to tell people my real old man was cool and that he landed the first 900.
I told the wheelchair bum just that, but he rolled away and left me with nothing but a buzz. He might have done it, my old man, but that guy might have done it too, and a million other skate kids turned motorheads like me.