Wednesday, March 30, 2011

So that’s what you call me, that or his Dudeness, Duder, or El Duderino if you’re not into that whole brevity thing, Torn Slatterns and Nugget Ranchers

Happy birthday to Lady Gaga who is 25. Which is 45 in Gaga-years.

M.C. Hammer turns 49 today. Gosh, I hope his co-workers at Radio Shack get him a cake.

The NCAA tournament is a lot like Charlie Sheen’s years: down to the final four.

The movie “Diary of a Whimpy Kid” opened this weekend. Do you want to know how you know if a boy is a whimpy kid? If he keeps a diary.

In Illinois, there is a shelter dog for adoption named Twitter. It’s a great dog, but if you take it, your parents will never, ever understand it.

Whatever you do, don’t get the shelter dog named Facebook, your parents will keep bugging you with it.

In the steroid perjury trial of Barry Bonds, his ex-mistress, Kimberly Bell, testified steroids made Bonds’s testicles shrunken and misshapen and he had penile dysfunction. If Barry isn’t careful, this testimony could become embarrassing.

A Frenchman, Alaine Roberts, climbed the world’s tallest building, 124 stories in Dubai; that would be very impressive if not for two things: stairs and elevators.

Sadly, Geraldine Ferraro passed away. I always liked Geraldine, she reminds me of the woman who goes to the dog park with plastic ball launcher for her Golden Retriever named Scout.

Did you see those French jets bombing Libya? They are amazing. The French jets actually have a gear called Retreating that flies the jet backwards.

Paris Hilton is launching a new shoe line. These are the first shoes designed to look good when placed behind a woman’s ears.

The name of the Paris Hilton shoe line is Tahgif. It stands for the abbreviation for: Toes Go In First.

Happy 43rd birthday to Lucy Lawless. Lucy played “Xena: Princess Warrior.” The show had Lucy, a hot tall brunette, with a hot short blonde lover/girlfriend and they fought other hot women. Or as it as otherwise known: that show guys masturbated to a lot.

In the steroid perjury trial of Barry Bonds, his ex-mistress, Kimberly Bell, testified steroids made Bonds’s testicles shrink, he had penile dysfunction, back acne, he threatened to kill her and he might go to prison. Well kids, if you don’t run out and get some steroids now, you’re crazy.

In Ft. Myers Florida, a high school honors student stole a gun and pistol-whipped her mother to buy her a sports car. Keep in mind, this is a Fort Myers, Florida honors student. That’s sort of like being the skinniest contestant on “The Biggest Loser.”

Since you asked:

Can’t wait for “Win Win” to come out. An Indie movie about a high school wrestling coach and his troubled star wrestler starring Paul Giamatti and Alex Shaffer respectively.

Lex’s wrestling story:

Was quite the skilled wrestler as a Sixth grade youth, if I do say so. Went through everyone in my grade at my school with easy pins. (Including my bestest buddy, Foxhole Woody, who weighed the same as me then, but whom I have since outdistanced in weight by too much)

So, in Seventh grade, I was recruited to be on the Carlton Washburn Junior High wrestling team. First, in practice as a test, I wrestled a kid my weight, 120 lbs albeit a year older. Easy pin. (There weren’t hardly any Seventh graders on any of the teams, the size gap at that age is too big)

Our coach was a great guy, Mr. Duma, who was a Division one full-scholarship wrestler at Northwestern before becoming a history teacher. Keep in mind, wrestling is big in the land of the Big Ten. Whether it is Iowa or Iowa State or Northwestern, they usually dominate the NCAA championships.

As we had an eighth grader on our team in my same weight class, Mr. Duma decided to start testing me by moving me up ten pounds to the 130 lb class – and still, a year older than me. Several meets, several easy 30 seconds to one minute pins.

“We don’t have anyone in the heavier divisions,” Mr. Duma said, “So as long as you keep winning, is it OK if I move you up in weight class?”

Sure, I said, not knowing any better.

Most wrestlers dangerously try and lose weight –starving and sitting in steam rooms for hours before a match - so they can wrestle in lighter divisions than they really are. Not me. My coach kept moving me up in heavier weight divisions.

Next few meets I was in the 146 division, twenty-six pounds over my weight and a year older. Hard fought at first, but, in the end, pins. This was way more fun. The matches were closer and I was still winning.

The way it worked was, at 146 pounds in Eighth grade, these kids were big, but, honestly, fat and not fit athletes. The match would be even at first, but as they got tired, I had an advantage, even though I was smaller. And I was better coached.

Mr. Duma was a good coach. He taught us moves the other wrestlers didn’t know and couldn’t stop. We were on a roll. With solid wrestlers at the lighter divisions and me being a faux-heavier weight, we racked up wins. Its fun being on any winning team. Although fully aware of the homophobic jokes surrounding the sport, wrestling was starting to grow on me simply because I was good at it.

It gave me a lot of pride to see how proud Mr. Duma was of me and how he bragged to the other team’s coaches that I was wrestling – and winning – two classes above my weight class giving away over 25 lbs as well as a year in grade.

“Can you imagine how Alex will do next year if he wrestles in his own weight class?” Mr. Duma asked us at practice one day. “It won’t even be fair.” Everyone laughed. Man, I was excited.

Most Junior High teams didn’t have a kid big enough to be in the 160 pound division, but when we came up against one, Mr. Duma entered me against him, that's how much confidence he had in my wrestling. Imagine that? A 120 lb Seventh grader in the 160 lbs division, 40 pounds over his weight? And, once again, a year older. And yet, I was excited by the challenge.

Until I saw who I was going to wrestle.

First of all, no way this oaf-clown was only 160 lbs. He had to be at least 170. Possibly nearly 50 pounds heavier than me. From a percentage standpoint, well over a third bigger than me. Instinctively I knew this was a step too far.

Secondly, he was an ugly, scary-looking red-headed freckled dumb, bully-looking hick. Two more things I would soon find out about him: he was a damn good wrestler, and most importantly, he stunk like a manure-drenched goat with a rotten-meat-like body odor that would have gagged a drunk Frenchman.

From the first second of the match, I was thrown around the mat like a mackerel flopping on the deck of a fishing boat, struggling to breathe from underneath a nasty, sweaty and unbelievably smelly red-hair arm pit. To this day, I can remember wondering how it was possible that this blotchy-skinned, acne-ridden mouth-breathing moron could possibly stink so horribly.

Somehow, by sheer will and survival instincts, I barely kept from being pinned. (As I was undefeated to this point, I sure wasn’t going to allow myself to get pinned)

It was a home meet, when the official raised this jamoke’s stinky, sweaty hand as the victor, I walked off the mat headed right for the Silkwood-like shower to get this idiot’s stench off of me. I said two words to my wrestling mentor, Mr. Duma, as I walked past him:

“I quit.”

Poor Mr. Duma. He begged and pleaded with me to return. He threatened punishments, he offered bribes, he called my parents, he called my advisor. He felt terrible about moving me up too many weight classes. He felt my quitting such a promising wrestling career was all his fault. He alternated between rage that I quit and guilt that it was his fault.

It wasn’t his fault, he was a good man. It was the fault of that fat-assed rancid Alfred E. Newman-lookalike who made me quit. More realistically, the thought of having to wrestle somebody like him ever again is why I quit.

Although a pure sport, like boxing, that pits two people against each other without any gear, wrestling is a sweaty, fleshy, painful, gritty, gay-looking sport. And I really didn't like it that much, I was just good at it. So quitting was easy.

One day, Mr. Duma called me into his office and, as it has now been forever, I don't remember exactly what he said, but I do remember the essentials;

“I’m not saying this to get you back,” Mr. Duma said, “You can do whatever you want, I'm not going to beg. But if you stay with it and wrestle in your weight class, let me coach you next year, you will eventually win an Illinois state high school championship, I guarantee it. You could get a full scholarship to Northwestern.”

Was it true? Who knows? It was nice of him to say, but in the words of David Letterman:

Ahhhhh, uh, no diiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice.”

That year I believe I was 15-1. It has been a long time, so I can't swear all the weight classes and match results and match times are exactly right. But I do know all my wins were all pins well above my weight class, my one loss was a decision against a putrid ginger-haired Andre-the-Giant freak. That decision turned out to be a decision to never wrestle again.

The moral? Do not push kids too hard or too far in sports. No matter how good they are, once they reach the breaking point, that is it.