The Roller Godfather of Central Park

The early October air smelled like sweet roasted nuts and burnt wood, the temperature had cooled down, and the turning of the leaves symbolized more then the end of summer 2008.  It also denoted the season’s final weeks for the Central Park Dance Skate Association’s weekly roller skate parties in Central Park, which had been going on since 1979, founded and led by Lezly Ziering.

Just as he had all summer, Ziering arrived alone, his wife, and old partner Robbin, has stayed home sick, again. But as he made his appearance at 5:30, he showed no sign of missing her and eagerly made his way to the rink.

The slight, 75-year-old Ziering laced up his hand-dyed purple classic quad skates, and joined the action of the circle, shaking hands and shouting hellos. As the music played, Ziering’s torso twisted and turned only slightly stiffer then his younger counterparts in the rink, some whom he had taught to roller skate years ago.

Dressed in his token purple Skate Association sweatshirt and long khaki pants, Ziering sported a purple cap over his gray-white hair, cut short save for a thin braid off to the side. Hanging from his neck, wrists and ears, he displayed an array of gold and silver roller jewelry, some of it themed like the tiny roller skate dangling from his left lobe.

As Ziering faced the crowd who were watching the skaters in the park, he energized himself by showing off a fancy, double toe-stop before spinning in a circle.  He gave a sleepy eyed smile, which almost looked like a grimace, before he tucked his arms in a crescent and spun again.

Anyone in the crowd surrounding the skate circle could guess Ziering’s age.  His skin hung loose on his lean body and without a hat on, the crown of his head shone smooth in the sun.  Yet, despite his appearance, he gave the impression of perfect health, which was mostly true.  The only thing he really couldn’t do was lift his left arm by himself because of a damaged rotator cuff, which happened a few years ago.

While Ziering shrugged it off, the injury had affected his skating and dancing.  He can’t properly lead his partners anymore.  The people he skates with regularly know to pick up his arm when he squeezes their hand.   From the outside, it doesn’t seem to bother him much; he still skated with vigor to the DJ’s disco beats.

The skate circle hopped with Ziering’s close friends, save for Robbin.  While Ziering’s injuries hadn’t kept him down, his wife’s kept her out of the scene.  Robbin had suffered a back injury few years ago in 2005, and had never fully recovered.

The night happened to be Robbin’s birthday, October 9, and the couple was celebrating at the Roxy nightclub.  As they skate danced, Robbin’s wheels locked with Ziering’s.  She fell straight down and landed flat on her tailbone, causing trauma to the vertebra.  Despite the pain, Robbin wanted to enjoy her special day and continued to skate the night away.  She knew something was wrong, but ignored it.  Later on, she went to the doctor and found out the fall had broken her back.

At first, the pain didn’t stop her from going out skating with Ziering.  But whenever she fell, the old injury flared up, and each time it was a little worse.  The pain led to depression and eventually she gave up roller skating.  Robbin also gave up her place as Ziering’s partner in the rink, which only added to the emotional turmoil she felt.

Ziering obviously felt bad for her.  The svelte woman he married gained over 30 pounds and just sat in bed all day, crippled by depression and physical pain while her husband flourished in his day-to-day routine.

What could he do, Ziering thought.  Roller skating had been his love long before Robbin had entered his life.  Her listless attitude both angered and saddened him, and he missed the times when they could skate together.

But alone in the Central Park skate circle, Ziering’s spirits remained high.  He skated over to DJ RC La Rock’s booth with ease to take the microphone.

“Everybody that can hear my voice, put your hands together,” Ziering, said.  “Welcome to the Central Park Dance Skate Association.  This is a beautiful day.  Now, some rules…”
Ziering finally finished and gave the spotlight back to Tyron, another member of the Skate Association.  He wandered over to the sideline, taking in the dozens of people gathered to watch the dancers.  Out of the corner of his eye, he caught sight of a woman whose skating made him nostalgic.

He watched as a slender, 30-something woman with long wavy brown hair skated by, dressed in fitted black clothes.  Her face appeared relaxed and had the look of absolute bliss, not unlike his wife’s face when she started roller skating.

“That,” Ziering thought, “is the face of joy.”

Ziering reminisced about the time when Robbin was like the woman in the skate circle.  She loved the activity so much that in 1997, when they got married, it was on skates at the Roxy, the Mecca of roller skating at the time.  On their wedding day, the couple was escorted to the doors of the club by a horde of motorcycles led by Robbin’s brother.
Robbin, in her mid-40s at the time, wore a flowing lavender dress that accentuated her slender figure.  She also had on a dark purple cast, but the memory of how she broke her arm got lost among the excitement of the wedding.   Then 65, Ziering had on a white suit with a deep purple cummerbund and tie, and a gray hairpiece–something he wore until Robbin convinced him he looked better without it.  They stood hand in hand, her blonde head taller than his silver one by a few inches.

The most traditional moment of the Jewish ceremony was the symbolic breaking of the glass.  Ziering managed to smash it on the third try by using his purple skate.  Glass shattered, the couple kissed with a desperate fever, and the large crowd made up of family and roller skating friends erupted in hoots and hollers.

Ziering then led Robbin on to the vast wooden floor for their first dance as husband and wife.  They gazed into each other’s eyes and started moving as Gato Barbieri’s Europa played.  Clutched tight, they glided effortlessly around the floor.

Robbin stepped out for the second song, nervous her skating might not be good enough for a more complex performance.  Her new husband opted to dance with one of his previous partners instead.  Ziering and Bunny delighted the crowd as they skated in a swing dance style routine.

The third dance was the last one Ziering and Robbin did together.  After that, the floor opened up to the guests.  Everyone joined in, even people who weren’t part of the skate community, like Ziering’s one and only son, Stephon, who was from his first marriage.

Between performances by star skaters and Ziering himself, Robbin and Lezly’s wedding was one of the top skating events of the year.  Not only was everyone happy at the union of the Zierings, but also they had the Roxy, among other skating spots in the city.  The skating life was good back then.

And, for Ziering, it still is.  Though he is well past his teenage years, he thinks of himself as a responsible adolescent.  The energy he displayed in the park proved it as he neared the end of an entire day on skates.  Earlier that October 4th morning, and most Saturdays, Ziering had taught one of his many roller skating classes.  But he was still going strong at sunset, despite all the exertion and rainy weather.
*    *    *
The weather was one reason fall became tricky for skating.  Gray clouds hung heavy in the sky threatening more then a sprinkle, and, on the wet 52-degree October morning, the idea of roller skating outdoors was not appealing.   In a small park in Greenwich Village, students waited for Ziering to make his debut.

“Do you think class will be canceled?” a tall, pretty brunette asked her fellow classmates.

Lorraine Espinosa settled down on to the wooden bench.  Its peeling green paint revealed how long it, along with all the others, had weathered the seasons.  Two more people joined her, but at five past 11, Ziering hadn’t.

Ten minutes later he pulled up on his purple bicycle dragging along a large bag stuffed with neatly folded black kneepads and wrist guards, and brown quad skates, remnants of the Roxy, which had closed its doors for good in spring of 2007.

“Stay,” Ziering commanded the bike as he leaned it against the fence.  Unlocking his black leather fanny pack, Ziering made his way over to the new students.

“Hi,” he said.  “If it doesn’t rain anymore, I think we can have class.”

Even on skates Ziering was small, around five-foot, four-inches, almost four inches shorter then he had been before numerous knee and hip surgeries and age shrunk him.  This time, like all the times before, the crowd’s eyes were on Ziering as he began lesson one.

For over 30 years Ziering’s lessons stayed the same, just the place changed.  When Ziering met Robbin 13 years ago, he was running his own roller skating school.  She wanted to learn to skate and he became attracted to her perky, eager-to-learn nature.

Suddenly, Robbin was everywhere he was—at the Roxy, in the park, and going to all the events.  Eventually, their friendship escalated beyond dinner and a chat.  Robbin became another one of Ziering’s lovers.

But Robbin was different from the other students he had dated.  Not only was she 20 years his junior, but she was also one of the oldest people in the country to have cystic fibrosis; an inherited disease that clogs the lungs and leads to respiratory infections.

It was one of the times she was hospitalized that led Ziering to discover how he really felt about her.  In 1996, he was leaving the county to perform at a New Year’s party in Morocco.  Robbin was in the hospital, terribly ill, and tubes stuck out from her in all directions.

Before he was about to leave, Ziering visited Robbin.  She looked at him with tears in her blue eyes and he held her hand, trying to comfort her gentle sobs.  She thought that was it.  He would go to Morocco and leave her for another woman.  Her suspicions weren’t actually that far off.

Ziering was planning on meeting up with Tammy, a Japanese girl who had also been a student of his and was now his lover.  The two had planned on sharing a room in Morocco for a few months.

But when he got there  he couldn’t get Robbin’s parting words out of his mind.

As he was leaving the hospital, she said, “Why can’t I have ever have somebody to love.”  And Ziering’s heart broke.

When he got to Morocco he told Tammy that he had someone else who he had great feeling for and planned to be with.  Completely shocked, Tammy ended their love affair right then and there.  But

Ziering didn’t care.  He called Robbin right away and said he was taking her to his house to live once he got back to New York.

Sobbing on the phone, she said, “This is the best New Year’s eve of my life.”

*    *    *

Robbin and Ziering lasted longer then the skate studio they met in.  After it closed Ziering flitted around to various spots before settling on Mercer Park, which was a few blocks from his house.

It was at the park where Ziering continued to teach on October 4th.

“Now, push your knee in toward the left when you turn, yes, good job,” he told the students.  “Ok, don’t skate too fast, little and longer strokes.  Here, watch me.”

Ziering had been seriously skating for 29 years.  The first time he really got into it was when his second wife, Sandy, brought him to Village Skating, now a pub near his apartment.  A professional dancer, Ziering actually balked at the idea of putting on skates.  He felt nervous that he might hurt himself on the rink and didn’t want to take the chance of ruining his career.

As he observed the crowd spinning and dancing on their skates, a light went on in his head. “This is for me!” he thought.

The next day Ziering went out, bought roller skates, a book on skating and practiced in his studio.  Within five days, he had completed all 20 lessons in the book and was completely hooked on the sport.  Now, he took responsibility for training numerous skating stars and has earned the reputation as the go-to skate guy, and one of the best teachers.

Getting used to skating can be hard.  While the new skaters’ bodies ached from trying out fresh muscles, Ziering went on tirelessly.  It was only at the end of the lesson that he had his first awkward moment.

Ziering struggled to reach a small piece of wood lying in his path.  Finally, after a couple of tries, and bending as much as he could, Ziering clutched the stick between two of his finger tips.  He then turned to the class with a wry smile on his face.
“Hey, after two knee and a hip replacements I can’t bend over like I used too,” he said, and chuckled before tossing the twig away.
*    *    *
That same week, Ziering rested in his apartment with Robbin.  They sat in the purple and red themed living room.  Roller skates lined the floor under the book shelves.  Framed photos covered many of the surfaces and the purple leather couch was adorned by one of their four cats.

Robbin now spent most of her time at home, in slippers, not skates.  She also spent a lot of time at the hospital.  Robbin used to be a nurse and knows a lot about medicine and diagnostics.   But her knowledge isn’t apparent in the way she takes care of herself.   She spends much of her day in bed sleeping and her eating habits consist of yogurt, sugar and lots of carbs.   Because of these two factors, her once slender frame now resembles a barrel and she has to wear Ziering’s T-shirts and baggy jeans or sweatpants.

“I won’t go to a vegetarian restaurant,” she said to Ziering, making a point about his diet choices.  As she got ready to go the doctor she continued,  “I think it smells like someone who hasn’t taken a shower in 10 days.”

“Oh boy,” replied her husband, rolling his eyes.

Ziering is a complete health nut and no longer eats meat.  He didn’t start to understand the importance of diet until the early 90s when he almost died from double pneumonia.
In the hospital, Ziering’s friend Joe brought him basic brown rice and veggies.  It was then he had an epiphany–if he ate better, he would feel better.   And, except for some mechanical problems, he has been feeling fine ever since.

But that doesn’t keep Ziering from the doctor’s office.   He brings his wife to the doctor at least once a month.

Ziering takes care of her at home too. Robbin’s illness has made her depressed and lethargic.   So he wakes her up and makes sure she is supplied with her favorite food, Yoplait yogurt.  She eats over half a dozen containers a day.

Robbin does help where she can, mostly with the health of the four cats.  On this Thursday afternoon, she was taking care of Tigger, their three-legged tabby who had been sneezing for a few days.

As Robbin went to get the antibiotics, Ziering bent down to pet Rainbow, one of the other cats.

“Hee hee, she’s a sweet baby,” he said to the cat.  “Yes you are, with your little white paws.”

A picture of Rainbow sitting on Ziering’s head when she was a kitten has a place next to photos of Robbin and Ziering in the Central Park skate circle 10 years ago.  Ziering struck a dashing pose in one.  He had a gray handlebar mustache that almost concealed his wide grin, and a silvery toupee covered his scalp.  Robbin, smiled coyly in another photo and her blonde hair was cropped short.

Today, her hair is still cut the same way, but her face in the picture showed how much less she weighed then.

It wasn’t that long ago when Robbin worked as a visiting nurse in Harlem for kids with AIDS.  She stayed there for years before they had to let her go.

“You know Robbin, you are out sick as much as you are in,” said one of her supervisors on that fateful day.  “But we want to do something for you so you can get your social security disability.”

Now she lives off social security money, and what her husband makes teaching skating and selling custom roller skates.

“Lezly!” Robbin called from the kitchen.  “I have to give Tigger his medicine.”

Ziering walked into the small room, “He wouldn’t take any of his moist food at all today,” he said.  “And he barely had any of his dry food.”

“Really?” Robbin asked, her voice more worried then it was when she talked about her own sickness.

She turned to the cat. “My baby, my baby! Come here.”

As Robbin held Tigger down on the multi-tiered cat tower, Ziering admired her ability to “pill the cat.”  It was something he couldn’t do.  Robbin, who used to give pills to sick babies as a nurse, didn’t think twice about it.

*    *    *

Ziering’s usual day started at 10 or 11 a.m. and he ended it around four in the morning.  When he didn’t have to take care of Robbin, he liked to stay up late working on organizing the Skate Association  and Crazy Legs, his latest venture, and an important one for the skating community.
Empire skate rink closed down April 2007, and the Roxy shut its doors in the beginning of March the same year—both places couldn’t afford to have roller skating there anymore.  The Roxy reopened as a night club, but not somewhere to skate in again.  Because of the loss of space, Ziering has spent much of his time since then looking for a permanent indoor rink for skaters.

“Happy birthday to me,” Ziering thought sadly when he received a phone call at the beginning of March 2007 that informed him Roxy’s demise was finalized.  The skaters had recently moved back there after it’s first closing months before.  The reunion only lasted a month before the venue shut down for good.

After it closed, the skaters had to move from rink to rink.  They often traveled to Staten Island, New Jersey, and Long Island.  These places proved difficult to reach without a car and Robbin rarely came along.

Ziering remembered the early September day this year when all that changed after a West Indian man named Wilfred Samuel came to his apartment looking for custom roller skates.  Ziering measured Samuel’s foot for the leather casing and had him pick a style of body, which Ziering would then order parts and construct the skates in his home.

When Ziering brought out the wheel choices Samuel told him he would be skating in the gym of a Salvation Army building he ran in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.  Ziering’s ears perked up immediately and he jumped on the chance of starting a skate night there.

They made a deal and that night Ziering emailed everyone on his skaters list to tell them the good news – Crazy Legs was born, they could stop looking.

On Wednesday night, October 8, Crazy Legs had been open for three weeks and had made its name known in the New York roller skate scene as a hot spot.  The music could be heard a block away as people approached an open door, which revealed the glittering of Christmas lights and shadows of people quickly going by. There was no sign it would stop.

After almost a month in the space, Ziering felt in his element. Wearing purple leather skates and a royal purple mesh shirt, he greeted people as they arrived.  At 9 p.m., the gym had about 40 to 50 men and women from ages 20 to 75.  In the center, people dance-skated in formation while others circled them counterclockwise.  As DJ Rikky Rivera spun classic R&B and dance tunes, the volume of the music throbbed through the skaters’ bodies.

Around the floor, metal fold out chairs allowed people to change out of their shoes or take a break.  Robbin perched on one wearing wrist braces, but no skates.

“I am turning in my skates for the night,” she said to the person next to her.  Robbin explained that she had taken a bad fall and couldn’t continue.

Tonight was the first time in a while that she tried the sport again.  She wanted desperately to get back in the rink.  But, after the accident tonight, she didn’t feel confident enough to get on the floor again.  Ziering kept coming over and checking on her.

“How are you doing?” he asked, concerned for her comfort.  “Are you okay?”

She finally told him she wanted to stay and relief washed over him as he skated back into the crowd.  A few moments later, he checked back again, this time with a small wrench in his hand.

“I gotta fix someone’s skate,” he said.  “I will be right back.”

“He is always sacrificing his fun to help other people,” said Robbin wistfully.  “He always takes care of me.”

That wasn’t his original plan.  Ziering had been a steadfast bachelor and never really looked for a relationship.

“He said, ‘You know Robbin, I am going to be a bachelor forever,’ and I was ready to accept that,” Robbin said to the person seated next to her.

As Robbin chatted about her and Ziering’s relationship, numerous skaters came over to give her hugs and see how she felt.

“I skated today! But I fell down,” she said, her wrist-braced hands tucked docile in her lap.  Cystic fibrosis had made her look almost the same age as her husband and had slowed her down considerably.  At the same time, Ziering zipped around like he was 50 years younger.  Robbin shuffled and appeared to be in constant pain.  Her eyes shined with moisture, as if she was about to cry.

While Robbin watched the skaters, Ziering held court in the cafeteria room. His purple clad figure was silhouetted against a poorly painted mural of Martin Luther King.  Gripping a white roller skate between his legs, Ziering attempted to fix the second skate of the evening.

“I can’t believe I am fixing it with this,” he said, holding up a tiny wrench.  “I would never use a tool like this.”

“You are my skating hero,” said Lisa, the girl whose skate he worked on.

“He is known as the skate guru,” her friend Polly said, and went over to Ziering.  “Do you think she can remove her toe stops?” she asked, gesturing to the bright red rubber stump at the toe of the skate.

“But how do I stop without it?” asked Lisa.

Polly’s blue eyes met Ziering’s and both lit up with mutual understanding.

“She’s not ready if she is asking!” he said out loud.  Polly nodded as her blond tresses fell over her bare shoulders.

Polly, who learned to skate from Ziering in 1998 at the Roxy, demonstrated how she nimbly stopped without the classic roller skate breaks.  Ziering joined her, both of them sliding toward Lisa.

“This is a hockey stop, and this is a T-stop,” he said, crossing one foot in front of the other.  “But this is why it’s good to have toe stops,” said Ziering, laughing before ending on point like a ballet dancer.

Ziering’s professional dance career started when he was 12.  He studied at the Paris Opera Ballet School in France.  In 1958, Ziering danced in the film Margerie Morningstar, where he got to partner with Natalie Wood.

In his bedroom at home, Ziering relished the relics of his past.  A large white piece of poster board sported suave photos of him in his much younger days in various yoga-like dance positions.

Back in the gym Ziering began to skate again.  Robbin lamented to her friend that she was unable to roller dance to the slow songs.  Ziering came back, checked on his wife, and then met up with Beth, one of his skating partners for the past 20 years.

They took to the floor, arm in arm. Picking up speed, Ziering guided her as she skated backwards.  He led her in a twirl as he shuffled his feet effortlessly on the smooth surface.  Robbin watched from the side.

“I hope to be his partner again,” Robbin said, nasal East Coast accent breaking through the bass from the speakers. “Next time I will be in skates.”

*    *    *

On October 18, a freezing cold Saturday, Ziering found himself traveling alone to see one of his past students perform at the Spiegletent in Lower Manhattan’s South Street Seaport.  He was tired, and didn’t know if he would make it.

It was hard for Ziering to enjoy himself while his wife sat on the sidelines.  He knew Robbin was getting sicker and sicker, but he often told people she was doing better.  Even when she was in the hospital, he tried to stay upbeat.

“Robbin sees the glass half empty while I see it half full,” Ziering rationalized to himself about their relationship.

He wanted her be with him more, but he had a difficult time getting his wife stay positive or even join him for most events.  But, he pushed himself to leave alone and when he arrived where he stirred up so much excitement that it appeared he was the performer.

“Hey!” one man called out, “Lezly is here!”

The group at the table smiled in unison as one after the other stood to hug or shake Ziering’s hand.  When the greetings were finished, Ziering scanned the room for a chair and sat down near the front.

The wind whipped through the antique tent, shaking the velvet curtains and causing the mirrored disco ball to sway.  The air was chilly, warmed only by the few dozen bodies that surrounded the small wooden stage.  Ziering situated himself and wrapped his purple leather jacket tightly around his torso.  He turned toward the front as Amy G., aka Amy Gordon, took the stand.

Tall and lanky, G wore a long, form fitting black dress, a white feather boa, and a hat with a cherry tree branch protruding from the top.  Slung across her shoulder was a ukulele and on her feet, she had well worn black roller skates.

“That’s my Amy,” Ziering said under his breath when he saw the young, attractive woman.  Ziering had taught G to skate dance a few years ago and he went to see her when he could.

“Thank you all for coming.  It was quick, but I came too,” G said, as the crowd erupted in laughter.

Ziering made a low chuckle and then put two fingers in his mouth and whistled.

It’s easy to see why Ziering liked watching G so much.  She is cute, talented and flirty–three of his favorite personality traits.

“I see this side of the bus and in big, bubbly, chocolate letters it says, ‘Find the perfect man,’” she said.  “In this room I see several options.”  She looked at Ziering again before going into a roller skating tap routine.

G isn’t the only roller skating diva that Ziering has taught.  From over one third of the Gotham Girls roller derby team to the cast of Xanadu and Starlight Express, who gave him a standing ovation after their first production, Ziering has long been New York’s “Skate Guru.”

While watching G’s last skit, Ziering didn’t dwell on his career.  He was totally caught up in G’s bawdy act.

“Oh, this is great!” he said, lips stretching into a tight smile.  “I love this part.”

G faced the audience and lowered the microphone down to her crotch.  She then proceeded to wiggle out of three pairs of underpants, which she left dangling around her ankles.  With a sly smile, she reached into her purse and elegantly pulled out a sparkly gold and silver kazoo.

Theatrically she lubricated the instrument with her mouth before placing it under her skirt.  Her face looked concentrated, then surprised, and then extremely relaxed, euphoric actually.  Ziering laughed and stomped on the ground as G proceeded to play “America the Beautiful” with the strategically placed kazoo.

After it was over, Ziering made his way to her.  “That was great honey, a little slow in the beginning, but great.”

G, who reached about 6 feet tall on skates, bent over and hugged him.  Ziering didn’t stay long, he was freezing and tired from a long day of skating.

*    *    *

The last Sunday in October celebrated a successful season of roller skating. This year the day was perfect for a farewell get together, and their yearly Halloween party.  Over a hundred people gathered in Central Park for the festivities, but as the day dwindled, Ziering still hadn’t arrived.  He was missing his own event.

Ziering had planned on coming, he wanted to come, but things were bringing him down.  Ziering was tired of doctors and problems. He was also tired of fighting with Robbin, which was the reason he had come to the skate circle so late.

At about 5 p.m., Ziering showed up on his bicycle, alone.  He entered the DJ square in the middle of the action and folded up his bike.

People skated over to say hi.   As soon as he took off his black jacket, revealing a red spandex suit, a Halloween costume for Ziering who was without a drop of his token purple.   In the cool fall air observers watched as the Hulk, Spiderman, and Batman joined a princess, a couple of fairies, and a creepy clown in the rink.

Eager to join them, Ziering laced up his skates and covered them with American flag casings so no purple remained.  Almost as soon as he got them on, his wife showed up, teetering delicately to a chair.

Her presence made an even greater stir in the crowd.

“Hi Robbin! How you doing?” one masked man said.

“Hi honey, how you feeling?”

“Hey guys! It’s Robbin!”

Robbin sheepishly said hello to people, but it didn’t look like she really wanted to be there.  She hadn’t worn a costume and her gray sweatshirt and blue jeans were in stark contrast to Ziering’s fiery red body suit.   Bending over, she pulled out her black skates and proceeded to tie them on.

This was the first time she had been to the park all season.  Ziering went over to her, speaking low into her ear.  She waved him off and he skated away to mingle.
Robbin struggled with the laces until she finally tied them.  She then put her wrist braces on and stood unsteadily.  In a way, Robbin looked like a beginning skater.  She appeared unsure of her wheeled feet and her face expressed worry as one of her friends came over and embraced her.

Robbin slowly made her way to the rink, stopping every few feet to chat.  Batman finally took her hand and led her around.

Where Robbin was nervous, Ziering zipped around gracefully.  He loved being here.  The Skate Association  was his family, his friends, and part of what kept him going.  After the Halloween party, the group would be smaller.  Only the die-hards would come out in the snow to shovel a spot to skate in.

Robbin eventually found her husband and he ushered her to a quieter side of the rink.  There he helped here with her steps.  After Robbin’s break through four days prior at Crazy Legs, Ziering had high hopes for today.

That Wednesday, a moment of clarity hit Robbin.  Suddenly, skating had come back to her and for a brief period she moved like she wasn’t sick or injured.

As they danced on the floor, Ziering was blown away by his wife’s progress, and so was she.  Just that day she declared she would never roller skate again, but there she was, picking up her feet, doing cross-overs and skating backwards.

Robbin looked at Ziering, tears of joy pouring from her eyes as she finally danced with her husband.  He felt like crying too, not only was she skating again, but this could mean she was getting better.

But in Central Park, it looked like she might cry again, though not with the same emotion.  These were more tears of frustration because her legs wouldn’t do what they were supposed to do.  Ziering circled around her to make it look like she was turning, trying to hide his disappointment.

As they slowly danced, Beth zipped over to the couple.  She had dressed like a wood nymph, clothed in a brown dress and with leaves strewn in her hair.  She greeted Robbin cheerily before gesturing to Ziering and the rink.  He declined her invitation and watched as she skated back into the pulsating crowd.  Ziering stayed with his wife, their arms entwined and awkwardly working at the moves.

This wasn’t fun for him.  He came out to the park for entertainment and having to lead someone who couldn’t skate aggravated him.   Ziering practiced with her until someone called him over to the DJ booth to make an announcement.

Taking the microphone, Ziering thanked the crowd for being there for the last day of the season and reminded them about Crazy Legs, the indoor winter spot for skating.

Robbin lingered behind him while Ziering finished up.  He turned around to say more hellos, confirm he was doing fine, and that Crazy Legs was off the hook.

By 6 p.m., it was almost twilight, and much cooler then the hour before.  The dancers continued until the last possible second, enjoying the most they could before the winter came.
In the end, Ziering led Robbin, arm in arm, on to the rink.  His red spandex suit glowed in the low light while his small, fragile body supported his wife.

A week later, despite all the progress Robbin had been showing, she was back in the hospital.  Her body and mind were suffering from her disease.  Ziering didn’t know if she would ever get better, and part of him just wanted to end the relationship for good.  Especially when she came between him and roller skating.