I still remember it as if it happened just the other day.
Come one, come all! The Bandits are expanding! JOIN NOW!
A young, virile, upstart of a slack jawed greenhorn found the courage and walked through the Bandits’ golden arch. He wasn’t there trying to be some imposing heart attack who cared about jerking each of us off with Tung Po gloves while drinking boot legged Listerine. He wasn’t keen on building his legacy atop our simple Atlas like shoulders. He wasn’t a former actor from Hollywood land who thought wrestling sounded cool so he’d give it a try by joining up with us. He wasn’t a drug addict numerous times over who could fence the eggs for heroin or cocaine. He wasn’t there because he needed the money to pay off an old gambling debt over which cow could produce the best milk.
He was real. He had both of his eyes, and a trucker’s cap sat snug atop his head. With a natural, albeit mediocre tan to boot. Oh, and for some reason there was marbles instead of chewing gum in his mouth. Most importantly of all, his spirit was vivacious. His enthusiasm was abominable. He was what we Bandits once aspired to be many moons ago, and there he was sitting before us looking to join our paltry breakfast club.
The future of the Bandits.
He was the absolute best of us from day one.
That was then.
This is now
Now kind of totally sucks.
The driven wrestler in me is starting to get upset with the sulking pig of a boy that’s also inside me. It’s not because the pig does all the smiling and talking, either. Well, I’m sure that’s some of it, but not all of it. Turns out, the wrestler actually has a pretty good gripe– we haven’t been on the right side of victory in… I dunno, a Stevens amount of time. Also, in that span of time we’ve lost matches to people who still lose to me in their own dreams.
My god. How far have I fallen?
From atop my sullied throne, and with T-Shades covering the upper half of my clean kept face, I sit. My funeral back, 97 red striped jump suit looks to be right off the rack and would match any readily available coffin on the market. The majestic locks of COOL are shining brightly; assisted by an inordinate amount of hair product smuggled into the country via Mexico.
“You were our Fisher King, Zeb. You were going to be the one to carry the torch forward, and protect our Holiest of Yolk Grails. You were meant to be the last Bandit– that is how highly we all thought of you.”
I take a second to scratch the sorrow from my face.
“Then… well we all know what happened next.”
Disgusted, I spit. No, I guess I’m still not over it.
“Oh well. That was then, Zeb. This is now. And now, I have a losing streak to match my winning streak. Now, I beg myself to care about a single thing. Now, I fight to make it down the ramp and into the ring with an iota of cause or purpose. Now, the pig inside of me squeals so loudly I can’t hear myself think.”
I shake my head disappointingly.
“I know. sour grapes look good on me. I should keep eating them, or at least wait another week to stop.”
My teeth grit. My nostrils flare.
“I wish… I wish that I could do that. I do. I don’t want to, much like before, stifle the progress of my upstart. I do not see the benefit from dishing out a long overdue Saturday Night Special. But… damn it if the ashtray in my mouth isn’t full of fish heads and smoked cigarettes.”
Yes, that is to say the bad taste has overstayed its welcome.
“Truth is, I do not know if I can beat you, Zeb. Not to sound insulting, but deep down I think that I can. I am a Grand Master of cheating, and I will not hesitate to do so against you.”
“Also, my vast experience and still lovely athleticism would lend me to believe I can still keep up with a guppy like yourself.”
A crack of the knuckles.
“AND, I know you’re not tougher than I am. NOT because I drink rusty nails and shower with a plugged in toaster.”
An old one.
“But because the number of almost fatal asskickings I’ve received and survived is far greater than the number of hairs on your balls.”
“I also know how hungry I am to fill my empty, winless belly. I yearn, Zeb. I yearn for more. For better, and that doesn’t involve losing to the likes of you.”
Shit bag smile.
“That said, I don’t know if I’ll ever get back. My hubris is a lasting stain that repels even the industrial strength bleach. But, if I am to… return, I know it will have to start with you.”