Thirty-two years ago Friday I became a mother. This blows my mind on several levels, most prominently: My child is 32 years old! I remember being 32. Wasn’t that, like, a few months ago? Is it just me or is time speeding up? You know you’re midlife-ish when the past suddenly seems a lot closer than it actually is.
My boy is 32. Wow.
If you’ve been with me long enough, you’ll remember that I once referred to Jimmy only as The Boy. Winters is a small town and most people (I hope) read the Express (and those who don’t — you’re dead to me), and I was at least sensitive enough not to use my children’s names while exploiting their antics in print.
Let’s take a moment to reminisce about some of The Boy’s adventures that appeared on newsprint. Like the time he hijacked my first computer and blocked me out. Or when I told him I’d pay him a nickel for every tomato worm he plucked off my plants and put in a can, but instead, he catapulted them into our back-fence neighbor’s pool. Or the time he stuffed Play-Doh into his baby sister’s ear with Q-tips, or when he pulled his bellybutton inside out when he was about 10. That’s allegedly not physically possible, to stick your finger into your “innie” and turn it into an “outie,” but that’s the story of Jimmy’s life: The regular rules don’t apply.
Then there was the famous front yard birthday campout, where all the pre-adolescents, or puberts (copyright, mine), took off in the wee hours and raced around town TP-ing their friends’ homes. When I run into Jimmy’s now-grown friends, they tell me that was the best birthday party ever. Some even comment that their days they spent hanging out at my house are some of their fondest memories, which mystifies me, because let’s just say I was less than hospitable.
Do you know a group of teenage boys can consume three boxes of just-purchased cereal in about an hour? I do. This swarm of large, loud, perpetually ravenous locusts would swoop into my living room, sometimes staying for days at a time, and I’d ask them, in exasperation, “Don’t your parents miss you?” and get a shrug in response. I finally became wise to that scam. No, their parents didn’t miss them, and they were laughing and pointing at me behind my back because I was stuck with the whole tangle of teenagers every weekend, and they weren’t.
Sometimes I’d come home and find teenagers spread across my living room like seals on a pier, and I’d just lose it. I’d throw open the front door, point outside and demand that they go home. And they would, grumbling and shuffling, only to return the following weekend.
What were they doing in my living room all that time? Watching professional wrestling incessantly. These were wrestling’s golden years, when Hulk Hogan and Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock would thunder into each other like oiled-up hairless buffalos, flipping and flinging themselves from the elastic ropes, slamming each other into the ground, beating their chests and roaring their prowess in Speedos and hero boots, and honest to God, it was just the most ridiculous thing I’d ever seen. The boys ate it up.
They’d sometimes have their own back yard matches, and even recreated the coveted WWF championship belt in cardboard for the winner. It’s a miracle none of them were seriously injured, and thankfully survived to graduate and go off to college, and developed new interests. But not Jimmy. Sure, he went to college and started his own computer tech business, but the wrestling obsession never died down.
Ask him about pro wrestling and you’ll get a command performance of his encyclopedic knowledge of the “sport” (actually, it’s more like an ongoing testosterone-drenched soap opera) complete with voice impressions and reenactments.
Those who knew Jimmy as he grew up will recall that he loved being in the spotlight. This also hasn’t changed. When you’re with Jimmy, he’s the star of the show, you’re the audience, and the less you resist that, the easier it’ll be on everyone. Just go with the non-stop flow of words. You can’t fight a force of nature.
So. Take his radio broadcasting major, his obsession with pro wrestling, his love of the spotlight, his innate theatrical flair, his penchant for drama, and roll it all into one package, and what do you get? Why, wrestling announcer, of course!
When Jimmy’s not rescuing crashed hard drives he’s the ringmaster (and also business partner) for an up and coming pro-wrestling company — Cen-Cal Pro — based in San Luis Obispo. My daughter and I attended a show last weekend, and I was prepared to loathe it, and also to hide that fact. I was astonished. Cen-Cal Pro puts on a great show! It’s slick, astonishingly professional and entertaining! I actually enjoyed it!
Don’t judge me.
Let’s break this down to its purest element: Despite the odds or practicality, Jimmy’s pursuing his dreams, regardless of logic, reason or what anyone else thinks. He’s following his heart.
Come on, admit it: You’re a little jealous. So am I. We grow up believing we can be anything we want, but life usually hammers that out of us before we even try. We choose the pragmatic path, get the bills paid, get the kids raised, and reminisce about what we wished we’d done after it’s too late. Me, I wanted to be a country-rock star.
Thoreau’s “different drummer” poem could have been written about Jimmy. Some of us read the poetry … fewer of us live it. Jimmy has stepped to his own music since the day he was born, and still does. If anybody could make it in the crazy pro-wrestling world, it’s my boy.
— Email Debra DeAngelo at email@example.com; read more of her work at www.wintersexpress.com and www.ipinionsyndicate.com