It was bad enough that I missed last Saturday's free Bon Jovi concert in Central Park. (Why couldn't you wait until August, Jon? Why?) But I was also denied an opportunity to see a nearly-as-awesome concert the night before.
Journey, Heart and Cheap Trick were playing USANA in West Valley, and my friends Rhiannon, Adrienne and I decided semi-last minute to go, hoping to get a good deal from scalpers. The concert started at 7:00, but thanks to unforeseen traffic delays, come 7:45 we were still eight blocks away from the venue entrance in a barely-moving line of cars. Figuring we wouldn't get in until at least 8:30, and since we hadn't actually bought tickets yet, we glumly gave up on our quest (could've used journey there, but that pun is too weak even for me).
Still wanting to hang out with white trash, we headed for the local drive-in. I was unaware that we still had drive-in theaters in Utah. I think the last movie I saw at a drive-in was Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.
But if you really want to see a lot of mullets and guys in sleeveless shirts, there's one event that tops even a Journey concert or a movie you watch from a lawn chair in the back of a pickup truck, and that's pro wrestling.
In about six months, I will reach the 20th anniversary of the first time I watched the WWF. I'll probably run a week's worth of wrestling blog posts or something to commemorate the occasion.
Last month, the WWE (the new name since losing a lawsuit against the World Wildlife Fund in 2002) came to the E Center, and my younger brother Derek and I were there. I'm surprised I've waited this long to write about it.
I've been to live wrestling events probably at least a dozen times. This one was televised, so everyone sat down during the commercial breaks, then we'd all stand back up when the show resumed. I kept feeling like I was sticking to my seat, but whenever I examined it or my pants I couldn't find any sticky substances.
It turns out I wasn't looking far enough down the leg of my jeans. As I got out of my bro's car at the end of the night, I saw that I had in fact sat in gum. Fortunately, lots of picking and scrubbing, an application of WD-40, more scrubbing, and two trips through the washing machine later, my pants are none the worse for wear.
I've never been much of a gum-chewer myself. The few kinds of gum I've actually enjoyed eating have been attractive more for their novelty value than their taste: a wad of Big League Chew added some legitimacy to my backyard baseball games against my older brother, Bazooka Joe provided comics and fortunes along with the gum, Bubble Tape allowed me to measure how many feet of gum I could cram into my mouth at once, and the gum that came in packs of Topps stained one of my new cards and helped me know what it would taste like to eat cardboard. And yes, when I was a kid, I was a gum swallower.
Big Red is the only gum name that would also make a good name for a WWE superstar. Most of the new gum brands would make good American Gladiator names, though. Eclipse. Orbit. Stride. Ice Breaker. Five. Well, not so much that last one...but it would fit in on my new game show, "Gladiator, Gum or Boy Band?"
Now that I'm done trying out my new stand-up material, I can tell you about a much happier gum-related wrestling experience (I'll wait until the next post to put up a photo essay of last month's event).
Back in the summer of '97, my best friend Jerrett and I (we actually became best friends through our WWF fandom) decided to bring dates to a wrestling event at the Delta Center. The practice of elaborate, creative but absentee date-asking made it difficult for me to just pick up the phone, call a girl and ask her out (I actually still have problems with that). I knew several weeks in advance who I wanted to invite, but I waited, and ultimately sent Jenny Erickson a postcard from Missouri, where my family was vacationing. Amazingly, she agreed to go, and thanks to e-mail, when I'm too afraid to call a girl I've never had to use the postal service to get a date again.
We had second row floor seats, the closest I've ever been to a wrestling ring. Our dates didn't know what to think; overall, I think they had a good time, and I'm pretty sure they've never been to a wrestling match on a date, before or since, but they definitely didn't like the Godwinns, because they thought some of the hog farmers' spittle might land on us.
They actually weren't too far off: during the Mankind-Triple H match, the action spilled outside the ring. Mankind gained the advantage, and with HHH prone against the guardrail, the masked superstar punched him in the face. Hunter Hearst-Helmsley's head snapped back, and his gum flew out of his mouth. It slid underneath the front row and settled on top of the "It's Hoover Time!" poster I had made (a reference to the wrestler Vader, replacing his name with my high school nickname, which I may explain the origins of in this space someday--and yes, I brought a poster with me on a date).
Jerrett had purchased a pair of Bret "Hitman" Hart's signature wraparound sunglasses earlier in the evening, and he quickly scooped up the gum in the plastic wrapper they came in, and he had himself an unexpected souvenir.
Which is the bigger surprise: that I never went out with Jenny again, that Jerrett did go out with Anjuli again, or that Jerrett's mom threw the gum away while he was at Ricks College? Oh, if only we knew about eBay back then.