Thursday, November 17, 2011

'Wrasslin' With Reality

The little old man sat with his hands on his knees and so far forward on the chair that it seemed a hair trigger would spring at any moment and propel him up and forward. His eyes were glued to the action on the screen. A smile engulfed his whole face wrinkling the brow above impossibly widened eyes. He rocked back and forth just a bit adding to the sense that he might shoot up off the sofa with shocking speed.

The action on the screen unfolded. Back then, we called it 'wrasslin'' so as not to confuse it with the collegiate sport my cousin participated in – wrestling. Not like you could confuse the 2. As the combatants waged their battle from round to round, the little old man would almost squeal, “Git him...git him!” and then look over at us with a reassuring nod to say, “It's real, you know, it's real.”

Paul Harvey would love to step in here and tell you the 'rest of the story'. It is enough to leave you stupefied at the power of the human mind and heart when it comes to the reality we embrace. You see, that wrestling cousin had grown into a career in law enforcement. In that capacity, he often worked security in a civic arena where 'wrasslin' matches were staged.

Courtesy A. Hughes
To his pure delight, my cousin was able to take the little old man, our beloved Pappaw, to see wrasslin' heroes in the flesh. They went early enough to allow a behind the scenes look at the world of Saturday afternoon TV wrasslin'. My cousin mistakenly thought he could disabuse our grandfather of his firmly held conviction that all the action was genuine and spontaneous. I laugh out loud now at the memory of my cousin's optimistic determination.

The angry dynamos of the ring where gentle giants as they embraced their aged fan with humor and dignity. They showed him some of their best moves along with how they'd set the move up during the actual match. One of the stars even told Pappaw that, when the time came, he'd look over and give Pappaw a secret signal. With that signal, Pappaw would know they were about to pull off a stunt designed to launch the crowd into a frenzy. The kind of frenzy that would launch an old man off his chair and into a delighted dance of glee.

Wanna know a secret? Even tho' Pappaw had been schooled in the ways of wrasslin' events staged for TV ratings, he remained firm in his conviction that 'wrasslin' was real' till the day he died. He believed in spite of the fact that the the concrete reality of those staged events had been explained to and demonstrated for him. He believed even tho' he had been included in the inside jokes while sitting at ringside.

Sometimes we kids would gently tease, “Awww...Pappaw. You know it's not real. They told you so and showed you how they do it.” He'd shake his head negatively and reassure us again that not a single moment of the unfolding events was staged. He believed....because he wanted to. In those moments before the television screen, he could suspend reality and enter into an alternate reality of his own choosing.

I've thought about my Pappaw and his love of wrasslin' a lot this week. How often do we choose to ignore the obvious and reach instead for a make believe reality. We do so because it will make life more colorful, more satisfying, or easier to digest. The end, we tell ourselves, justifies the means.

Courtesy A. Squires
There is a glance in the break room at work that holds just a little too long. The promised reality seems so much more restful and fulfilling than the sink full of dishes and feverish kids waiting at the end of the day.

The overpriced handbags beckon from the voluminous sale catalogs this time of year. We accept the lie that we can pay with plastic now and erase the damage early next year. We suspend the truth we know for the truth we'd rather believe.

Three more cookies won't hurt if we spend 10 minutes more on the treadmill. OUCH. One more glimpse at that compelling image we hide in the dark to view after everyone else is asleep won't hurt because it will be the last time we look. Our kids won't hurt over the foolish mistakes we make because we will be happier people if we succumb to our selfish desires for one more pill, one more drink, one more hit.

Courtesy Tracy M. Green
At the end of the day, we look at the world around us and wonder: where do all the broken, lonely people come from? And as we look away because it hurts too much, we whisper to ourselves, “Wrasslin' is's real....”

Proverbs 20:17 (Amplified Bible)
Food gained by deceit is sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth will be filled with gravel.

Courtesy B. Creasy
Proverbs 23:6-8 (English Standard Version)
Do not eat the bread of a man who is stingy; do not desire his delicacies, for he is like one who is inwardly calculating. “Eat and drink!” he says to you, but his heart is not with you. You will vomit up the morsels that you have eaten, and waste your pleasant words.


  1. For we wrassle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
    Ephesians 6:11-13

    We're not wrasslin' its real.

  2. As the kids would say, Don, "True that! True that!"