I once went through a very unfortunate and embarrassing phase. I’m not exactly proud to admit it. In fact, it might be one of my more shameful secrets. I can’t explain why I did it. I guess I’ve always blamed it on being young, naive, and having raging hormones. I do have my excuses. It was the time. Everyone was doing it. It was entertaining.
It started innocently enough, hell, I even got my mom involved. I did it once on a fluke, boredom mostly. I instantly found myself hooked and I kept doing it over and over again. The story never changes, the players are always the same, but you can’t find your way out. You are in too deep. In the end, I just had to walk away. Cold turkey. Quit. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I was done.
I remember the night I quit, too. It was during the Wrestle-mania Pay Per View Special in 1999.
This addiction was all consuming. The Rock. Stone Cold Steve Austin. Mankind. Triple H. The Undertaker. The Hardy Boys, with their rocker acrobatic stylings! I could really smell what The Rock was cooking and it was like turkey roasting all day on Thanksgiving. Juicy and savory. Mouthwatering. Wrestle-mania was like the Super Bowl for us. We had been anticipating this day for months. The matches were set, who would win? Who would lose? What crazy shit is going to happen?
Every week, my mom and I would gather around the set to watch wrestling. We would jump up and down, yell at the screen, roll around on the floor in misery or glee depending on the turn of the match. The Rock was her favorite. Stone Cold Steve Austin was mine. They would spar inside and outside the ring, hurling insults, Stone Cold hurling his beer. What a contradiction he was! Biblical quote on his clothing line and a beer in each hand, all awhile calling people assholes! Oh yes! He was my spirit animal and dare I say, soulmate?
One night, while watching wrestling, a new wrestler was announced, her name was Lita. As she walked out in the spotlight, all machismo and strength, I squinted at the screen, ran up to it, turned to my mom, and said, “Isn’t that Amy???” I hadn’t seen her in years, so it was really hard to tell. Of course, we debated back and forth, neither one of us entirely sure. A short time later, my mom bought a wrestling magazine with an article about Lita and sure enough, Lita was Amy, my childhood friend that lived around the block while growing up. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, and WTF.
Not only were we watching our favorite manly men, but now we had Amy/Lita, who once played Richie Sambora to my David Bryan in the middle school talent show. Our version of Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” won first place that year mostly because we used lots of Aqua Net and lip-synced while using real instruments. She had moved away to Atlanta just before high school. I visited her there once. I flew all by myself. I was probably in the 9th grade, When I walked off the plane, a strange look of disappointment flashed across her face. You see, she had gotten really cool and I hadn’t and it was obvious. I always knew she’d be a rock star, looks like she got damn close.
A couple of things happened that really started to undermine my love of wrestling and turn the tide of my addiction.
My mom had a check up one morning following a particularly exciting evening of wrestling. The doctor, looking at her in shock, asked, “What have you been doing? Your blood pressure is through the roof!” She even threatened to put her in the hospital. My mom admitted that she had been watching wrestling the night before. The doctor told her to stop. It was starting to affect her health.
I was affected by the controversies regarding owners refusing drug-testing of the wrestlers for steroids, rumors of rampant narcotic abuse, indentured slave-like contracts for the talent, wrestlers being placed in serious harm and even dying from their dangerous stunts, but even being aware of all of these issues didn’t make me hit my rock bottom.
It was a bathing suit contest during Wrestle-mania circa 1999 featuring 80 year old Mae Young that pushed me over the edge. From my aging memory, I recall Mae Young going all out to win the contest by removing her bathing suit top and revealing her naked 80 year old breasts. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with naked 80 year olds, but from my recollection, my 20 something boobs felt like they were visited by the ghost of Christmas future. No where in my brain did I conceive that my boobs could eventually morph into what appeared before me. Pendulous. Elongated. Stretched before her like childhood silly putty. It was like my wrestling high instantaneously dissolved, I was left with tremors, a twitch, and the need to hurl. This was the brush with reality that I needed. It was as if her breasts swung out from the screen and knocked me across the face.
It was a bad trip and now I was woke. There was no turning back. I walked away from wrestling that night. And I’ve never looked back.