I’ve never been able to skateboard. I can’t surf either.
But growing up in Orange County, I went to school with a lot of skater bro and surfer bro types.
Skaters applied wax to railings and sidewalk curbs so they could grind with their trucks. Surfers slather wax all over their fiberglass boards so they didn’t slip off when they hang ten.
Since these were rich Orange County kids with hefty allowances, I saw a business opportunity in wax.
So in 7th grade, I took an old box of crayons and stuck them in a tin Altoids mint container and set them on top of the lamp in my bedroom. The warmth of the incandescent light bulb melted the crayons into a puck.
But I didn’t pack these crayons carefully enough, and red wax dripped down the side of my lamp shade. Oops.
I spun the shade around so my mom and dad wouldn’t notice the next time they entered my room.
The puck was an abomination. A grey-brown mash with blotches of red, blue, and green. But it looked like a puck.
I took it to school the next day and sold it to an aspiring skater named Eric for $10. My first customer!
I needed more wax to grow my empire. So after school, I went to Long’s Drugs to reinvest my $10 in more crayons.
That’s when I realized crayons are expensive. An 8-crayon box wouldn’t be enough for a puck, and a 64-pack would as more than I could afford. I looked at candles, but my surfer/skater buyers didn’t want their boards smelling like vanilla and lavender.
I asked the store clerk if they sold raw wax in larger quantities. That’s when he showed me this:
With my $10, I could buy a several bricks of gulf wax. Enough for 5 pucks. That was enough to make $50!
So I ran home, locked my bedroom door, and fired up my lamp. I added bits of crayon—one color per puck this time—to give the pucks some color. (This sort of worked. The crayons didn’t melt completely, so what I wound up with was bits of partially melted broken crayon in a puck of paraffin wax.)
I took my pucks to school. Eric had used up the wax and ready to buy more. (While I was making wax, Eric was defacing our middle school’s curbs and railings with my melted crayons he bought for $10.)
Finding my next buyers took more time. Over the next week I sold my wax to Jon, Peter, and Chris. Danny wanted to test the wax first and used most of a puck without paying me anything. My last wax puck went to Tyler, the only surfer I sold to.
By Friday, there wasn’t an unwaxed school or rail across my middle school. That weekend I pocketed $20 and spent $30 more on wax. It was my biggest haul yet.
Melting $30 of gulf wax with an incandescent light bulb took too much time. That’s when I pulled out my sister’s hair dryer.
The wax melted fast. I was making great progress. But much like Icarus flying too close to the sun, the fast melting wax led to my businesses’ premature ending.
My parents heard a hair dryer in my room and came in to see what was happening.
They saw their middle school sun with a big bag of gulf wax, broken crayons, a lamp with a tarnished shade, a janky Altoids tin, and his sister’s hair dryer. They didn’t like it.
The business came to a close.
I was $20 ahead. I sold raw bricks of gulf wax to Eric for $10 a piece. So this business must have netted a $50-70 profit.
I never knew what Eric did with all that wax. But I never saw him successfully grind on his skateboard.