“Have you seen a white skateboard?” the woman asked me, a hint of desperation in her voice.
I had noticed her a short time earlier at the Abraham’s Path kids park run by the town in Amagansett. We were on the basketball court, and she and a young girl were taking shots, talking in Spanish and English interchangeably, while my son, Ellis, and I passed a ball back and forth.
Across the park, two boys, the woman’s sons, I assumed, took turns on a skateboard on the ramps, while several other girls who were under her charge rode bikes.
On that late Saturday afternoon, it was chilly as the sun went below the Town Lane oak trees. Someone not far away was cutting something with a chain saw. A couple of older boys and one or two other adults taking care of children were the only other people in the park.
Before it had gone missing, I had noticed the skateboard, a Penny Board, of the sort that my 11-year-old daughter had idly asked me to buy her a couple of weeks earlier as we walked in East Hampton Village. I said no, or more like, “No way. You already have a skateboard.” She probably responded, “You’re mean,” or some variant on that particular kind of guilt trip.
For all the world, the boards, with molded plastic decks and wide, flared wheels, remind me of the first, junky skateboards we had as kids in the 1970s, before we graduated to laminated wooden decks and better wheels. But, as a middle-aged dad, there is much I don’t know about what’s cool and what’s not, or so I am reminded daily. Penny Boards, at about $100 a pop, are cool.
Protocol at the youth park is casual as far as personal possessions are concerned. Things are left here and there as kids move from one activity to another. Those of us who are there frequently more or less know which gear belongs to the park’s free rag-tag collection of bikes and helmets and so on and which does not.
There was an all-corners search for the white board; nearly each of the family in turn asked if I had seen it. Either a parent unsure about who owned what innocently packed it into a car, or, the other possibility (more likely in my opinion) was that one of the older kids, noticing an easy grab of desirable gear, spirited it away.
I helped look for a while as Ellis and I made a few final rounds of the track, he on his three-wheel scooter, me jogging alongside. It was pretty clear that it was not going to be found.
By the time we left, the woman seemed resigned that the skateboard was gone for good. Her kids asked me one last time if I had seen it. “It glows in the dark!” one said. “No, sorry,” I said, really meaning it.