Dad didn’t watch TV very much. If he was home during nightly news he watched Walter Cronkite. That was the only time we had to be quiet around Dad. He also liked to watch the wrestling matches on Saturday afternoons. The only problem was that we were usually working on the farm on Saturdays. The good news was that my grandfather also like the wrestling matches. Every other day of the week lunch was at or near noon, but on Saturdays we broke for lunch at 2 P.M. Coincidentally, wrestling came on at 2. My Holy Ghost filled grandmother also got into the matches from time to time. She would pull her chair up close and yell at the TV “watch out Eddy, he’s coming for you.”
On a couple of occasions Dad took us to the Jacksonville Coliseum for live wrestling matches. It was the age of the Cold War. The clean-cut Eddie Graham was the blond all-American fighting for freedom and Democracy. His arch enemies were a Russian, a German, and Japanese. They all fought dirty. My favorite match was a cage match, Eddie against the Great Malenko. Inside the chain-link cage Eddie was being beaten badly; Malenko had retrieved what appeared to be brass knuckles from the lining of his shorts and battered the middle-aged blond mercilessly. He lay bloody on the mat at the Russian toyed with him. The crowd was silent in dismay when from thirty rows back a silver-haired grandmother jumped from her seat, raised her umbrella, and ran down the aisle shouting “I’ll help you Eddie.”
The best thing about the Coliseum was Milk Duds. I seldom bought them anywhere else (I’m a Butter Finger, Baby Ruth, Snickers guy), but they were my favorite at the matches. I could chew them one at a time, stretching the flavor out for several matches. Whenever I see one of those little boxes of chocolate delights I always think of the wrestling matches and my Dad. Those few trips were after all the only sporting events to which he ever took me, if you don’t count the demolition derby. We never had ring side seats.
In life I often feel I have a ring side seat to social wrestling matches. Often they are nothing more than egotists sparring for preeminence. Occasionally they are neurotics struggling for prominence. My preference would be to stay at home and watch “America’s Got Vanity” on Trinity Broadcasting, but in life you sometimes cannot escape the craziness of public rivalries and other self inflicted indignities. You are chained by circumstances to a front row seat. All you can do is ask for a towel and some sanitizer and pray its only sweat and spit flying your way. Of course you need to pray that none of the amateurs get seriously hurt. On those occasions, which seem more and more frequent these days, I am thankful I am watching and not locked in the cage of self promotion fighting the fear of irrelevance.
What? The marquee says what? I'm match # 2 against who?
September 16, 2010