Post by Larry Gowan on Nov 21, 2018 5:23:50 GMT
Dream no small dream; it lacks magic.
Dream large. Then make the dream real.
— Donald Douglas
(the present: San Dimas, California)
Tuesday, November 20, 2018
He hadn't been here in two and a half years and now, just two days shy of Thanksgiving, he was here packing boxes. Today had become one of reflection, remembrance and sadness – the bittersweet memories kept bubbling up the surface with every article of clothing he pulled from the closet. The lime green tie he'd worn when he was General Manager for WCWF's Wednesday Night Wreckage in 2002 and again when he was doing a similar job in Full Throttle Wrestling in 2013 – the slippery silk twisted between his nimble fingers as he bit his lip.
"It's hard to let go of the past, isn't it? The things we've done, accomplishments and mishaps that shaped our present-day selves… very hard to just toss those aside. This one thing was a symbol. When it was knotted around my neck, it meant I was an important person. An authority figure, if you will. I never really threw around power and I never actually aspired to be in that position. Right place, right time – you know how it goes, of course. If you spend more than a decade in the business, people assume you know enough to keep a locker room melting pot of talent and experience from boiling over. We had success there. At least until..." he trailed off, shaking his head slowly. "Well, all things end. Even the best of times. Even partnerships that involve more than handshakes and a mutual love of the business." He pauses, sighing. "I wonder what he's doing now."
The tie dropped into the open box in front of him and then he knelt, sealing the flaps. The shock of hair above his right ear was dyed a vibrant blue that matched his eyes. Dressed in an old black wife-beater and jeans, Larry Gowan looked more like someone's still flamboyant but aging father than a professional wrestler even though his arms and chest were clearly defined. On his bicep, there was faint word visible, almost as though he'd had a tattoo there and was in the process of having it removed.
"It's been almost three years since the last time I competed in a ring. January 2016 – it was a tag match. They almost always were in those last few years. Everyone wanted to face the KoA. We had an epic rivalry with the Burning Star Express that Dave Meltzer gave rave reviews to. I believe they're in the FFW Hall of Fame now and still to this day on the CWF's most hated list." He rolled his eyes, "not that name-dropping matters much these days when most of the folks I worked with..." he trailed off into awkward silence. "Right. Well. On a more positive note, I think this box is done and not a moment too soon."
He tore a strip off the packing tape, sealing up the last box before shoving it out into the hallway with the others. Standing back, he looked at the now-barren bedroom, feeling a strange sort of nostalgia bubble up from deep within him. In a few days, the house would be listed on the market. Next week, the realtor would be coming by to stage the house, update and make it more attractive to outsiders in the hopes of making a quick sale. After all this time, he was finally ready to let go of the past that was contained within these walls: loss, heartbreak and triumph alike. He cleared his throat, blinking and telling himself that it was the disturbed dust rather than melancholy that had his eyes burning. He walked towards the shelf on the wall that contained a single item: a snow globe. Giving it a shake, he stared into its contents, watching the iridescent white flakes swirl...
(the past: Toronto, Canada)
Saturday, December 20, 2014
The stockings were hung by the gas fireplace with care, the electric blue elf bootie-shaped one on the left already shedding a light dusting of iridescent glitter on the polished hardwood floor. The stylized G that had been so painstakingly applied years ago was starting to give up the ghost but Larry Gowan didn't care. It was one of the first things that Chauncy had ever given him as a gift and it would continue to be used until it was completely destroyed – he still had ornaments that had been in the family since before he'd been born, after all. Most of those were already hanging from the real tree that stood in front of the window, the lights already twinkling warmly through the tinsel as the sun set outside. Nodding in satisfaction, Gowan stepped back and admired his handiwork.
"You forgot something." Of course, nothing had been forgotten; it was simply that Chauncy had invested in something new: a gift that was meant to add to the decoration, thus making Christmas Day far too late to give it. One hand extended, the gift bag dangled from his fingertips, and Chauncy raised his brows. "You're terribly forgetful at times."
At the sound of his voice, Gowan turned around, unable to contain the smile on his face. The sight of that gift bag made that little boy inside start jumping up and down with eager excitement although the only outward expression of that glee was the sparkle in his blue eyes. "Are you sure?" He continued to sell the little white lie, "I don't really remember packing anything away in a bag like that."
"Positive. It's certainly not mine. It has your name on the tag, if you care to look." He lightly lifted his fingers, let them drop, jiggling the bag. "Perhaps I ought to put it away..."
"It's a little early for gift exchange, isn't it?" Although the question was meant to be joking, Gowan inched closer, holding out his hand, "although I suppose I can make an exception to the rules since I'm already in the festive spirit."
"An error? Hm." He held it up to his face. "It's possible it's for another Lawrence. Welk, perhaps."
"Ah, yes. It could be," he nodded sagely, warming to the game as he realised that Chauncy was actually flirting, "one musician is easily confused with another. Although, since he's been dead since the early 90's, I suppose I can accept it in his stead." He closed the gap between them, almost greedily snatching at the string handles. "Give it here, then. Let's have a look at what's inside."
"All right, but do be careful. If it's been sitting around for twenty years, let's hope it's not chocolates," came the answer. "Open your gift, Lawrence."
Holding it almost gingerly, Gowan carried the bag over to the couch, sitting down before he started tearing into it. With one last puzzled glance up at Chauncy, he snapped the little piece of tape that was holding it shut. Inside was a plain black box and he slid this out with care, setting it on the cushion beside him. "It's not a time bomb - don't hear any ticking. So that's good. Too small for chocolates." The smile was still there, but it was in danger of growing watery. "I told you that you didn't have to get me anything this year. I actually meant it, you know. Us being here right now is far more than-"
"And I told you, you must have simply forgotten to pack it." There was a sort of indulgent affection in the smile. "You really need to open it, though, or I shall become impatient."
"Of course. Sorry." Gowan nodded, turning back to fiddle with the box, turning it over in his hands until he found the flap to open the top. Inside was a cube of Styrofoam and he frowned for a second, trying to pull it free without damaging the box. Running his thumbnail down the seam, he broke another tape barrier before parting the halves to reveal a snow globe. The base of it was black, polished and glittery as though it was made from some precious stone. He turned it over and found himself looking down at a familiar setting reproduced in miniature. He bit his lip, feeling tears threatening to fall as he stared at Times Square in New York. A date was etched in silver on the base along with the location and the numbers swam as he tried not to blink and fall apart at the simple gesture – 2010. "You're right," he said softly, gently giving the globe a shake to make the little iridescent snowflakes start whirling through the water, "I forgot this."
Chauncy eased himself down on the arm of the couch and rested a hand on Larry's shoulder. "I thought a reminder, at this time of year... and now, obviously... well, I thought-" He never had been as good at articulating the positive.
"It was a good thought," Gowan closed his eyes for a moment, remembering that night – it seemed at least a thousand years ago and a snippet of that song flitted through his head. "Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?" He sang them softly, tears overflowing and spilling down his cheeks as he remembered dropping to one knee and saying the most frightening words in the English language. "It was a good thought," his heart was on his sleeve as he met his partner's gaze, "definitely one of your best."
An Open Holiday Letter to Jana Rikar and Chris Eno:
November 20, 2018 11:55PM
November 20, 2018 11:55PM
First and foremost, I would love to tell you both what an honour it is to share a ring with you. Yes, Chris. Both of you are worthy of praise and respect until you prove otherwise. I've spent the better part of the last hour falling down a YouTube rabbit hole that began when I looked up Jana Rikar's theme music (I love Kylie Minogue!!) and eventually ended an hour ago when I finally stumbled across the old match footage I was looking for. Less than year professional, and Miss Rikar has already proven herself as formidable opposition in the ring. She's wrestled in North America and now in Dubai as well. I watched a much-edited cut of her capturing gold in the latter and it was wonderful! From there I ended up watching a few Cure videos, reminding myself why I used to love them so much in my halcyon days. Now they remind me of tag team wrestling, remind me of times that have been lost to me completely, yet I just can't seem to escape.
If you found anything on me out there, apart from my last few years training folks, you'd find mention of the Knights of Anarchy. You'd find a few championship matches over several companies. Before I was a tag team wrestler, I was a cruiserweight champion. I see a little of myself from those days in my opponents. Young. Full of promise. Talented beyond my own comprehension. Before that, I trained in Mexico and tagged with another Canadian who went by the name Newfie Moose. He wore a mask. He never lost it and when he retired, the secret of his identity did as well. I don't tell you any of this to brag. Moreover, to underscore my point – when a man who's been tied to the business for twenty years says that you're noteworthy, it's something to be proud of. I see you being a bigger deal than those who trained you, even than the wrestlers who once worked for you in Defiant. Yes. I watched you there. I had a vested interest, after all. Kasey Summers and Max Ironside were once students of mine. I also watched you for another reason: in Italy, in 2014, Lex Collins saved my life. I hope one day to be able to return the favour, although from the way things have progressed with him, it's doubtful. I dread the day I open a newspaper to find that it was his life ended prematurely as some sort of transference for his intervention that day. I wasn't trying to kill myself. Not consciously. I was drunk. I was on a ledge, on the roof of a castle at a friend's wedding and I was obviously not thinking clearly. Sorry to have inundated you both with my maudlin tales, but I just feel as though one of you needs to hear it. There is always someone who would miss you if you were gone. You matter more than you think. I look at you both and I'm filled with so much joy! I want to hug you both so very hard!
This time of year, I'm usually overflowing with holiday cheer. I've usually completed all the shopping before now. This year, something has changed, a sort of mental paradigm shift, if you will. I'm still full of cheer, of goodwill towards my fellow man (or woman, as it were), but I'm not rushing to be the winner of some sort of personal race. I suppose that means that my priorities have finally settled where they should be (don't get me wrong, though… my wife and I are wont to spoil our daughter quite well come Christmas day). I suppose that's part of growing up, isn't it? The important things change and evolve. Winning this match, for instance, absolutely and definitively ranks higher on the list than normal. My first singles match in almost four years? My first time in a ring competing in almost three? Oh goodness, you'd best believe I have a reason to want to shine beyond simply proving that I still can. On my own, I mean. In a competitive setting and in front of people and a television (or Internet is it?) audience. I know the old saying: "don't quit your day job," and I will do my best to keep you from thinking that or even worse, "those who can't, teach."
At this time of year, I'm predisposed to wax nostalgic. My birthday – as ill-timed as ever – once again falls on Thanksgiving, making me take a very hard look back at the last year. So many things have changed in my life since I retired from professional competition: Kim Kardashian had another child (the horror), I got divorced and remarried (to someone different, of course), at least a hundred wrestling companies were born (and died in the same breath), and I now have a daughter. The circle of life completes itself every day, without our intervention.
It's fitting, perhaps, in my return to this squared circle of it's own, that I am slated to face two of the next generation in a match that I made famous back in 2001. Joe Louis Arena. The cruiserweight championship on the line in a four-man scramble. We went for almost an hour – an eternity in those days and the crowd was electric the whole time. We broke ladders. Berserker snapped his wrist chopping the ring post instead of Dan Bonez' chest and still hung with us for another seventeen minutes of agony. I came out on top. I pulled that belt down and it was the proudest moment of my career. It was the first time I'd actually tried to push myself beyond that comfort zone.
With the media full of Hallmark and Lifetime made-for-television movies full of contrived situations made to pluck our heartstrings like accomplished musicians, it's no wonder. I avoid It's A Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story like the plague, as any sane person should. You should never inflict something awful on the world just because it fits a theme (a lesson I daresay even a few folks in this company could stand to learn), but I digress. This little exercise falls into that category of reminiscence. The tradition of holiday letters was all but trashed by one lazy man who wanted to spend his days in the local pub, or so the story goes as I'm paraphrasing from memory. That man (and his name eludes me now), invented Christmas cards to save himself the hassle. He had them mass-printed, signed his name at the bottom, and went back to carousing. That man died wealthy, I'm sure, and here we are in 2018 with that little throwaway tradition still alive and well. In fact, I have a box sitting on the table in front of me while I write this now (side note: the box is three years old, covered in dust and appears to be missing a few of the envelopes). I'll be sure, though, to send one to each of you. This letter of well-wishing would be sadly lacking if it didn't include two roly-poly kittens amid sparkly lights and garland to make you smile. Of all the purposes in this lovely world of ours, I find that's always been my niche, so to speak. I make people smile. I make them feel good things and I've come to terms with that. We are the merrymakers. We are the joy-bringers.
I wonder if either of you agree? Tell me, friends, what are you thankful for most this year? Your career? Your success? The hand of fate that keeps knocking on your door without endless opportunities? Your health? Your happiness in the face of everything else that wants to tear your world apart?
I look forward to your answers.