I was in no possession to say anything, or do anything, to the Wrestlevet because his status over us meant that to speak or act out against him would be, possibly, an unforgivable breaking of the Wrestlecode, which I prided myself on believing in and upholding. So, instead the urges of self-harm and flight came into my consciousness.
As Dan told the the horror story of the match within the horror story of this trip, I had a primordial ocean of lava swishing inside of me, threatening to express itself as a violent temper tantrum.
This shit, isn’t funny. I tried to convince myself, as Dan made our Wrestlevet/worst-trip-ever-travel-agent laugh so hard that it was shaking the Jeep.
But, the more Dan went over the absurd details with his somber, defeated-by-life-tone, and the more the car quaked with contagious horse-laughs, the more my molten insides started to cool.
Well, f***. I guess when you step back and look at it, without being caught in it, it’s pretty god***n funny. F***. F***. F***. I thought, and began to repeat to fight the new eruption that was threatening to overtake me. It didn’t work, and by the time that Dan was lamenting, “They didn’t even know what the finish was...”, I was laughing aloud and hard.
Dan, however, still hadn’t realized the humor of our situation. He finished his story with “You should’ve seen the look on Lord Humungus’ face as Jason was yelling at me.”
The Wrestlevet orgasmed with laughter at the punchline of this anecdote. My laughing stopped, as I began to feel shame and remorse for my sh**y behavior.
The Vet’s laughs echoed, for a little while, until the evergreen Grand Cherokee settled into a sad silence. Dan’s sad-silence perceivably over letting himself and his friend down. My sadness over treating someone who had always treated me so well, so poorly. The Wrestlevets sadness over the end to such a joyfully entertaining story ending.
I listened to the wind scream as we rushed through it, staring out the window separating it from me, at the pretty city lights of the Music City of Nashville, as our horseless carriage carried us all into an uncertain future. My stomach growled, the image of a couple flies exiting a wallet an otherwise empty wallet, and thought to myself, Why am I here? Unsure whether I was asking the smallest of queries or the biggest.
“You boys hungry?” Asked the Wrestlevet.
“Nah, I’m good.” I lied.
“Yes.” Dan said, with a tinge of sad-anger.
“I’m going to treat you boys to some Taco Bell.” The Wrestlevet announced.
Maybe he’s not such an assh***. I thought.
We exited the Interstate and pulled into a Taco Bell drive-through.
Dan rolled down the squeaky window to allow a staticy intercom to yell at us, “HOW CAN I HELP YOU?”
Yes, I would like to order a time machine, please. I replied in my mind.
“Yes, I would like six bean burritos, please.” The Wrestlevet replied aloud, over a leaned back, as if to give the Vet’s voice a polite opportunity to squeeze by, Dan.
Well, I don’t really like bean burritos and two of anything hasn’t filled me up since puberty. I thought. But, at least, I’m going to get to eat, tonight.
“Y’all, need any sauces?” Asked the pretty, teenage young woman with slight acne and a steep Middle Tennessee accent, as we pulled up the second window.
“Yes, all of ‘em. Lots of ‘em.” Answered the Wrestlevet.
The fake-happy to be there, keeping a good attitude about it, though, cheerful employee of the impersonation-of-Mexican chain eatery wished us a, “Y’all have a good night. Thanks!”
“You, too.” Dan answered.
“Keep your finger out of it.” The Wrestlevet answered, as the car was pulling away from the window. From my backseat resting place I saw the shocked look on the young woman’s face replace the fake-cheerful one, then it settle into a very honest look of fear, uncertainty, and loneliness. I felt another piece of my heart break, as I listened to laughing voices from the front seats.
Very-Christian-Dan’s laughter stopped suddenly and he said, “Oh, I think she might get the wrong idea about what you said.”
The Wrestlevet stopped laughing and said, “What the hell are you talkin’ about, Dan?”
“Well, like she might think that you’re talking about masturbation.” Dan explained, seemingly upset.
The Wrestlevet started shaking the vehicle with his laughter, again. “Huh-huh-huh...That’s...huh-huh-huh...EXACTLY...huh...what I’m talking about, Dan!” He explained loudly and happily.
“Oh.” Dan said embarrassedly.
I laughed a little, myself, as I wondered just what the sh** Dan actually thought the Wrestlevet had meant with his just-f***ing-with-a-stranger-for-a-little-fun words to a person who was providing us with the kind act of working a low-paying, assumably unfulfilling job, so we could enjoy a hot meal while rushing around trying to down a dream, who was prepared for the fun at her expense.
I tried to push back the thought of, “Maybe he is an assh***.”
The assh***-in-question handed me a warm, white-wrappered bundle of quick-digesting carbohydrates, and I settled on “Not such an assh***.”
In my younger days, I had developed a personality trait known as “fussy-eater”, and one of my fussiest fusses was my disgust at pinto beans.
Suck it up buttercup. I coached myself as I bit into refried pinto beans, rice (which I also didn’t enjoy), and fake cheese (which I did enjoy).
I might f***ing throw up. Said my weakass stomach.
Don’t you f***ing dare! Said my strongass mind.
But..but..but… Cried my weakass tastebuds.
Don’t be a f***ing pu***! Screamed my strongass will.
I chewed and swallowed and chewed and swallowed, until, at last, the aspect-of-my-personality murdering experience was over.
My stomach, mouth, and throat were “selling like Ricky Morton”.
That wasn’t so bad. Rejoiced My Will.
You’re a monster! Cried my stomach.
Damn. I got another one to eat. I thought to myself. My stomach curled up into a ball. My mouth stopped producing saliva.
Dan and I had finished our first burritos at the same time. The Wrestlevet was already working his way through his second.
“Thanks, so much. I was starving.” Said Dan
“Yeah. Thank you.” I added.
“You’re welcome.” The Wrestlevet grumbled through a mouthful of the last bite of his second burrito. “The boys gotta take care of each other.”
Yeah, not so much of an assh***. I thought.
The Wrestlevet pulled another burrito out of his bag. My stomach took a big “here we go” sort of breath as I prepared for it to get handed back to me. I leaned forward and...watched the Wrestlevet unwrap it and start eating. I looked over at Dan, who had just made the same realization that I did.
This ass****. Dan (I assume) and I (I recall) both thought in unison. Apparently, I had been naive in my romantic idea of equal distribution of quick carbs.
The car became so quiet that even the wind outside seemed to respect it. The only noise to be heard was the chomp, chomp, chomp, gulp of burrito being devoured, the crinkle, crinkle, of empty wrapper being crumbled up, and the sucking and smacking together of lips removing salsa from fingers.
The Wrestlevet let out a satisfied burp and followed it up with an, “Ah.”
I watched Dan’s grip get tighter on the steering wheel. He was looking ahead with fierce determination. I looked over at the Wrestlevet and shook my head incredulously behind his back.
I laid down down across the backseat, having decided to sleep off the stress of the daymare.
Just as I was about to main event Slumberslam, a booming voice from the front passenger seat asked in a way that didn’t seem like he was asking, “Wanna hear my duck call?”
After a pause Dan let out a mousy, defeated, “Sure.”
The Wrestlevet’s face brightened, he rubbed his hands together excitedly, he took a few deep breaths, then seemed to shake the tension out of his body. “Alright. Here we go.”, he said, seemingly to himself, as a psych-up technique. He paused, as if having a moment of doubt and looked at Dan and me. His face switched to brave determination. He nodded his head and took another deep in-breath. And, on the out breath, through hands-made-into-a-megaphone, he let out a startling loud, “CALLING ALL DUCKS! CALLING ALL DUCKS!”
Dan lost his sh**, and consequently all of his anger, laughing.
*Morgan Freeman narration voice* I wish I could tell you that I fought the good fight, and my urge to join in to the contagious laughter let him be. I wish I could tell you that - but the road is no fairy-tale world, and I laughed till my di** hurt.
And somewhere in that laugh I grew up a little bit. Sure, the trip had already been miserable and Dan and I were going to have to fast until we got home the next morning, and the Wrestlevet definitely had a big part in the blame, but, in that moment, I realized that he was neither a true-ass**** or a true-great-guy, he was somewhere in the middle, like all of us. Just a flawed human trying to help some flawed humans and pissing them off along the way, like all of us. Just a person looking for a little kinship, admiration, and relief from the deep-seated fear and aloneness that pervades his existence, and f***ing up along the way, you know, like all of us.
So, f*** blame, how about a little praise: that trip made me a better communicator, a better wrestler, a more accepting person. That trip instilled in me one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in my still young life: I’m here for a f***ing adventure and when you’re a traveling wrestler, it’s....Always An Adventure. To my Wrestlevet friend that will remain unnamed, thank you from the bottom of my empty stomach, ya kind-hearted-prick-ya. Thanks, so much.
Now, let us be off to experience some new beautiful horror stories, shall we?