2017-09-08 / Commentary

The Reality of Wrestling

It’s not a criticism; It’s an observation
Mike Cox

Talking with Richard last week and a name from the past materialized. A guy named David saw Richard at the chiropractor and asked about me. Funny how as we age the places we see people become different. My chronological peers have now reached the age where reunions happen at the chiropractor’s office or eye doctor.

David and I were close during my early years climbing telephone poles. He was intelligent and pleasant. We clicked on several levels. Even got together with the wives at times.

He and I were part of a crew working the aftermath of Hurricane Camille in south Alabama and spent time living together, along with an ever-changing cast of guys of similar age trying to make a little extra money and head back to Tuscaloosa before getting homesick.

Most of us bought in to a community arrangement while on the road; sharing an apartment locally and scheduling card games and fish fries on weekday evenings to chip away at the boredom and loneliness.

During one particular span, there were five of us together. One particular Monday, which was our usual night out, almost everyone had showered off dirt, sweat, and creosote from the day’s activities, and were in various stages of getting dressed. David had made no move toward the bathroom.

Dodie, our unofficial cruise director, asked him what the holdup was. He replied he wouldn’t be joining us that night. Someone offered to pay; occasionally guys were a little short and not comfortable asking for money. Someone else wondered if he was mad at someone in the group.

David, incredulous he had to explain such an obvious thing, informed us in an irritated voice that, “Cowboy Bob Kelly was wrestling the Blue Yankee on TV that very night, and he wasn’t about to miss it.”

At the time, I was barely out of high school and dumb as a box of rocks. I did, however, realize that professional wrestling was as fake as a TV preacher’s tears. I thought only illiterate grandmas believed Dusty Rhodes and Sonny King and Dr. Ken Ramey and the Interns were fighting for real.

I lost respect for David that day, especially after the rest of us discussed it nonstop that evening over drinks. Anyone unable to distinguish between real and fake events couldn’t be trusted. At least not intellectually. Thinking about it now, I may have been too harsh. David never gave his version. He might have enjoyed the spectacle enough to tune in and didn’t believe for one minute it was actual valid sport.

I had thought of him recently. He went through some embarrassing marital issues and had a couple of other quirks that attracted ridicule. Most folks I still stay close to are much different than when we were 20. Those still unchanged aren’t worth reconnecting with.

These days there are decisions to make that are lots more complicated than whether wrestling is legitimate. Guys much smarter than David, or me, are having trouble distinguishing between fact and fantasy. Besides, lots of guys from that era aren’t around anymore. Might be worth my time.

Maybe I’ll drop by the chiropractor on my next Tuscaloosa visit.

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