Wrestling: The Real Thing

As children my sister and I spent a considerable amount of time in Chicago visiting Aunt Marty and Uncle Larry. They, of course, had a daughter named Kathy Ann. In the tale of Kathy Ann gets sick, our mother drugged Kathy Ann without Aunt Marty’s knowledge. And of course years later Kathy Ann ended up finding love in the psych ward.

But years before all that drama, it was at the home of Aunt Marty and Uncle Larry that my sister Lindy and I experienced pizza for the very first time. From then on, whether we went to their house with my mother or my dad (seldom with both of them), the cry would go up:

Uncle Larry, can you make pizza?

Imagine never having pizza, and then having an uncle who made fantastic pizza. He used gobs of gooey cheese and lots of sausage and mushrooms. Half of the delight was in waiting for him to bring the giant pie out to the living room where, for one special occasion, we were allowed to eat dinner. There were lots of napkins and lots of going back for seconds and thirds. Yes, having pizza with Uncle Larry and Aunt Marty was a treat.

The fun did not end with the food.  No, the two of them were addicted to watching professional wrestling on television and while we were enjoying the pizza there was usually the sound of the start of the wrestling match. Once wrestling started they were glued to the TV. They both saw way more than the referee and were constantly yelling at him to “Open your eyes.” Aunt Marty would get really upset and say:

Doesn’t the ref see him twisting his arm?

Uncle Larry would counsel her:

Just hold on Marty. He’s going to see exactly what’s going on.

And amazingly the ref would.

Our dad had no intention of my sister and I getting caught up in this circus, and he made it very clear to us that it was rigged. However, he really enjoyed watching Marty and Larry participate in the wrestling show from the audience. He loved the way Uncle Larry would shout:

Just hold on, he’s going to see it.

and the way Aunt Marty would get upset when the bad guy appeared to be getting away with murder.

Uncle Larry died fifteen years ago after making a dinner of spaghetti and meatballs and waiting for Aunt Marty to come home from work. He must have had a massive heart attack and died immediately. Aunt Marty is still going strong, but I don’t get to see her as often as I once did. I miss the pizza and the fun, but most of all I miss the innocence of a time when grown people could yell at wrestling on the TV and believe in its magic.

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