It’s weird, you make decisions, those decisions have consequences, and by the time you know it, your kid’s grown up and doesn’t need ya anymore.
What I’m sayin’ is I’m not winning any No 1 Dad t-shirts or coffee mugs anytime soon. I’m okay with that. I made my choice years ago. I put my career over my family. It’s a decision I’ve made before, will make again at every opportunity, and no matter the hindsight, no matter the logic… the business calls to me like a siren luring a fisherman to his doom.
I know I’m not a no 1 dad. I’m the type of dad who balances a Steve Solex so the median on “Quality of Dads in existence” can read 0.
I’m hardly a dad. I mean, I’m more High Flyer than I am Jack Harmen…
…Always have been.
Kate’s invited me over, we’ve got the family together. Happens once in a blue moon, probably see ‘em all maybe ten times a year? If I’m lucky? 250 on, 10 with them, only a hundred other meaningless days I have to fill.
I look at this plethora of pictures from my son’s childhood. Kate’s decided to get nostalgic and she’s flipping through the family portrait book.
I didn’t even know we had one.
I mean, I knew we had one. Everyone has one. But I’ve never seen the thing. And I’m probably only in a fraction of a percent of the polaroids.
First day at school.
First ball game.
I wasn’t there.
But you know when I was there for my boy?
His first wrestling match.
The first time he wanted to lace up the boots and came at me with a diving ax-handle.
Catching him carrying his ol’ man’s now twenty year old belt over his five year old shoulder, cutting his best promo in a mirror.
So I did what I could. The least I could. I nurtured his dreams, helped him get a leg up, but he’s earned his place in the world. Now, I get to see him 250 on, 10 off.
“Hey Dad,” Greg said, as Kate tries to flip through another stack of photos. “This one. Is… Is that Eli?”
I lean over. Chuckle. “Yeah.” Huh. I was so young. That was what, Winter, 2005? Fifteen years ago. Boy was only 4 or something. “That was your first exposure to the business eh? You told my rival he was your favorite wrestler”
“Well, Brand Frontier was awesome.” Greg said without a beat.
“Yeah, he was.” I start to think about all the “awesome” people in the business. All the awesome people who aren’t in that ring anymore. All the people I’ve fought or wrestled with that I haven’t even heard of or from in twenty years. Time is odd. “Wait a second…” I snatched the photograph out of the binder, as Kate protests.
“Hey! You’re gonna ruin it.”
I look closer. Tucked in the background off to the side… I swear that’s my current tag team partner. She looks just as long as my boy, five years old. A child.
Time is weird.
I show the photograph off, pointing her out. “That’s MJ. Do you remember her?” I ask my kid.
“Kind of?” Greg shrugs.”I remember there was a girl around my age, we talked a bit. Wouldn’t have put the two together.” Greg leans forward, looking at the photograph. “Oh yeah, that’s her alright. She was nice.”
“She’s taken.” I quickly say. He back pedals.
“Woah Woah Woah. Not like that.”
“Don’t want Eli to rip your spine clear out your body?”
“I will say, while you’re facing Steve Solex this week…” Greg trailed off, “Eli Flair is the number one dad I don’t want to mess with.”
I laugh. “You keepin’ an eye on your ol’ man?”
Greg laughs back. “Yeah. And you’ve been sucking lately.”
“Gee.” I sigh. “Thanks a lot.”
“Like an implosion of suck.”
“I said thanks.”
“At least MJ’s in War Games…”
FADEIN: High Flyer stands in his wrestling garb. He adjusts his gloves at the wrist, once, and cracks his head to the side. The entire background of the frame is covered by an extremely large RED97 backplate.
HIGH FLYER: No War Games for me. So, my War Games is Steve Solex. The Number one dad. With your hand drawn t-shirt and stupid handlebar mustache. A consolation prize of violence. A neanderthal who thinks he’s clever comparing me to a dying flopping stinking fish. Nah, listen, take a cue from your partner Bergman and be a little nicer to your peers. I hadn’t said word one negative about you Steve, and I had every intention of coming out here and thanking you for being a positive influence in your son’s life, a role model for a generation to look up to. Something I could NEVER, and have NEVER been. A man to aspire to be.
HIGH FLYER: Then, you just poke and prod, and you stab the Lunatic away. So, I take a look at your kid with the IQ of a door stop, and I wonder how much of a “number one dad” you really are. Shouldn’t your kid understand the basic tenets of oxygen and living? And I know, you’ve got what feels like all the time in the world to teach him everything he needs to know… but Steve, time is fickle, it’s quick, and it’s deadly. So here, from a shitty father to a pretty good father… I just wanna prepare you for the future, for the worst parts of being a dad. Cause right now? He doesn’t know his ass from his elbows and he’s looking at you for all his information, for guidance, for the keys to how to be a man. He idolizes you, knows you can do no wrong, is your number one fan. But as he grows? He’s going to grow away from you. He’s going to test you. He’s going to get emo and antsy, maybe he does drugs, tries to kill himself. Maybe he gets arrested. Maybe he even perishes. I mean, perish the thought, that he would perish. Perish it.
Listen, just sayin’. Even the number one dad can’t protect his son from the world.
He can only prepare them. So I hope you impart all the wisdom you can to your boy. Teach him our ways, impart your knowledge. Teach him how to be a man. Give all the info you can before Saturday. ‘Cause I don’t know what brain cells I’m gonna knock outta loose with a well timed Locomotive. Could be how to shave? Could be how to change a tire? Hell, I could make you forget you even have a kid… So, Steve, for your sake, and your kid’s sake, spend the rest of the week with him. Cherish the time you have left together. Maybe read him Thomas the Tank Engine?
It’ll be a nice reminder of the Locomotive coming for you.