This year for Christmas my son, Andre, asked for something that was a little different from the usual requests we get from our boys. We've done the Thomas the Tank Engine thing, the Lightning McQueen thing, Chevron Cars, and Star Wars toys. If it's out there and it falls under one of those brands, we've got it. That's why when Andre drew (he doesn't write well yet) his list I was a little surprised that it included the WWF Raw Wrestling Ring complete with realistic-action-punch action figures.
About three weeks before Christmas my kids were perusing the toy ads from all the local stores, circling their favorites, when Andre starting jumping up and down screaming that THIS IS WHAT HE WANTS!! I looked down in disbelief. This? Are you sure? Andre, where did you even see this? My disbelief then turned to disdain. I mean come on, wrestling? Professional wrestling with the masks and makeup and the idle threats of dismemberment? And that giant gold belt? One word. Yuck. (I apologize to any professional wrestlers or wrestler lovers in advance. You will not like this post.)
About two weeks before Christmas I had my kids list their wants in order of importance. The wrestling ring was always number one on Andre's list. I even dropped so low as to suggest if he only got one toy what would he want? The wrestling ring.
As you may have now guessed, I am personally not a fan of professional wrestling. Real wrestling, the kind done in high school where you wear protective head gear and there are real coaches and you can get scholarships for, go for it. But something happens to the sport of wrestling between that level and the professional level. Something not good.
One week before Christmas. We go to visit Santa. Andre sits on Santa's lap and is asked if he has been a good boy. 'Yes', Andre whispers. Then Santa proceeds to ask Andre what he wants for Christmas. 'Wrestling ring', Andre whispers again. Santa shoots me a quizzical look because he can barely understand him. 'A rustling wing?', Santa asks. 'No,' I answer. 'A wrestling ring. For toy wrestling guys to, you know, wrestle in?'. A gleam of understanding passes over Santa's face. 'Ahhh...wrestling ring. Well, Santa will have to make sure there is one under the tree Christmas morning'. That's just great. Thanks, Santa.
After the visit to Santa I realize that there is no way I'm going to get out of this. Why do I hate wrestling so much? I think it's trashy. I think it's cheap. I think it's fake. I think it's a bunch of muscle bound idiots hitting each other with folding chairs while wearing zipper masks. Not my cup of tea.
I decide to suck it up and head to the store to purchase the great 'rustling wing'. As I walk down the crowded toy aisle I notice there is difference in the kind of children clustered around the wrestling toys rather than the educational aisle. In the educational aisle where there are toy microscopes and telescopes and books about science there are quiet children. Respectful children. These are the kind of children I want. In the wrestling aisle, it's complete chaos. Kids are taking the guys out of the packages and throwing them at each other while laughing hysterically. Parents are looking on, immune to the noise, while studying the backs of the action figures while I hear conversations like this. "This guy can punch with both arms. Johnny would like that more..." "Oh, there is no way I will buy this guy. He got the crap beat out of him at the last match..." "Let's buy this guy. He looks scarier..."
At this point in the story you are probably thinking I am a snob. Or judgmental Or that I have no right to decide what people who like professional wrestling are like. But let me ask you this. How many professional wrestlers have masters degrees? How many kids who like professional wrestling grow up to be surgeons? Hmmm? How many? Really. Because I have no idea. If you have this information please pass it on to me.
I pick up the wrestling ring from the shelf. Did I tell you that it has a button that when you press it it says a few choice phrases and real live sounds from the arena? You can practically smell the spandex and greasepaint. I select a few of the least scary and one-arm-punching guys to go with said wrestling ring and I head to the check out. The store is crowded. There are long lines. I feel like everyone has their eyes on me and my cart full of inappropriate wrestling toys. When I reach the cashier I place the toys face down on the conveyor belt. Why? I'm embarrassed. I can feel the man behind me with all his vegetables and books giving me the disapproving eye. Tsk, tsk, tsk he's thinking. I want to turn around. I want to say 'You don't understand! It's not for me! It's for a friend!' I feel like I'm buying cream that says for infectious lice or anal warts. The cashier scans my items. "Somebody likes wrestling!" She smiles at me. "Um, yeah. It's not me." I grab my packages and brisk walk out of the store.
Come Christmas Day it was the highlight of Andre's morning. He played with it all day. Well, mostly all day. That thing was a pain in the butt to put together. Where is Matt when I need him? I definitely think that assembling wrestling toys falls under the Daddy category.
So what does this all mean? Will Andre grow up and feel a need to put people in a headlock? Will he be drawn to wearing only shiny Speedos with knee high boots? And above all, will he have a mullet? I don't know. No one can see the future. But I'll tell you one thing. The second Andre starts scanning pay-per-view telling me that the match of the century is coming on, the wrestling toy is out the door.