With only two events left in my first Canadian tour, I woke up early on a Saturday morning without a thought of cartoons and cereal. I had a mission: have a great match with Brian-From-The-Bar.
For whatever reason the tour matchmaker thought that this was going to be a challenge for me. I was so confident, though, that my own challenge to myself was to make it look as effortless as possible. In other words, I was going to try really hard to make it look like I’m not trying, at all.
While Sigmon was soaking his sore-for-the-tour legs in the YMCA hot tub, I had Rage Against The Machine’s Bulls On Parade on repeat as I pushed through a workout designed to clear my mind by exhausting my body. The ol’ too weak to give two sh__s approach.
After the gym, we carpooled up to Selkirk, Manitoba where the event was to occur.
As I stepped out of the car, I was greeted by my opponent for the night.
“Hey, I don’t know if you remember me from the bar… Like I don’t know how drunk you were, but we met. I’m Brian Rich.” Brian Rich told me.
“Yeah, man, you had some ideas. I remember.” I said.
He seemed to see this as an opening and said, “Yeah! I was thinking that maybe-”
“One step at a time, bro. Let’s set up the ring, then talk.” I interrupted.
His face was waving a flag of disappointment as he nodded in agreement. He seemed to be more disappointed in himself than he was at my maternal “not right now, honey”, which made me feel a bit like a dildo; not quite a d__k but d__k-ish enough.
“I watched some of your matches on YouTube. I think we’ll tear it up.” I added.
Brian Rich’s face lit up like I imagine a young Rob Van Dam may have on April 20th at 4:20 pm, and he said, “Solid!” (Which is Canadian for awesome.)
“So, what did you think?” He asked, seemingly wanting critical feedback.
“That we’ll tear it up.” I reiterated with a bit of humor undetectable by the senses.
“Solid.” He reiterated.
We got the ring up and as I was stretching out the matchmaker came up sporting a sly smile and said, “Tonight’s the big night. Are you nervous?”
“As I imagine I will be when I finally lose my virginity.” I replied.
He took my joke like Meng taking a headbutt: complete no-sell, then said, “Well, he may have told you: he’s pretty over. But tonight he’s not: you’re up.”
I took his joke like Gypsy Joe taking a chair shot. “Okay, cool.” I said.
The matchmaker laughed then said, “I’m going to be watching this one very closely. I have a lot of faith in you.”
I wonder if Sigmon has shown him videos of me being a dildo in the ring. I thought.
Brain Rich walked up as I was thinking and said, “You guys talking about the match?”
“Nah.” I lied, then rolled out of the ring and walked off.
I glanced back to watch Rich and the matchmaker’s reactions. Rich looked like someone holding a gun had kicked his dog and the matchmaker looked like he was the one holding the gun.
Sigmon’s a dildo. I thought.
I eventually did listen to Brian Rich’s ideas and shot very few of them down. I threw a few ideas of my own out there and, as far as I was concerned (which was very little) we had ourselves a match.
As far as Brian Rich was concerned (which was very much) we hadn’t quite finished nailing it down.
“So, after that, what happens?” He asked
“I don’t know. We’ll see.” I said in my motherly tone.
“I just don’t want to mess anything up. I get nervous.” He said nervously.
I sighed, looked him in the eyes, and said as big-brotherly as I could, “Look, bro, I mess up all the time, it’s just most of the time nobody notices because I don’t give a single reclusive f__k whether I f__ked up or not. I just roll with it. Hell, I’ve invented some sweet ass moves by f__king up other ones.”
“Huh.” Rich said, then added, “Where’d you get this attitude from?”
“Is Bob Ross a thing in Canada?” I asked.
“I don’t know. Is that a worker?” Rich asked back.
“Nah. He was an artist that hosted a painting program, back in the day.” I said.
“No, man. I don’t think we had that here.” Rich said.
I took a moment to pity the Canadian people for their Joy-Of-Paintinglessness. I thought about the bullying borderman, the barely-legal booty bouncing battle, the bad-mouthing banter for being American during the Winter Olympics… It all made sense, now.
How can I judge these poor, lost people who have never been exposed to the carefree canvas-magick of the fro’d art-bro from Florida? I thought.
Freedom-From-Forgivingness filled my feels.
I place a hand on Brian’s shoulder. I felt him shudder a bit. I dove deeply into his Caribbean blue eyes and tried to express through mine that It’s alright, now. Everything’s going to be alright.
“Well, he was a very wise man. One of his signature sayings was, ‘We don’t make mistakes. We have happy accidents.’”
He took mine and Bob Ross’ words like Dick Murdoch taking a punch: he sold the everloving f__k out of it.
I watched closely as Brian “I Get Nervous” Rich straightened up with a sunny smile that seemed to melt away the old-snow of insecurities, in that moment.
He gazed into the depths of my Dagobah swamp green eyes and said, with the intensity of a colorblind person glimpsing the World through Enchroma glasses for the first time, “Solid.”
The match was as good as I had wanted and expected. Brian Rich was talented, he just needed a little reassurance.
As I came back through the curtain, into the dressing room area, the matchmaker was giving me this reverent look of how in the frostbitten f__k?.
I reacted to his look like Prototype Series 1000 Terminator taking gunfire.
“How was the match?” I asked through jerk-smirk.
The matchmaker took in a fresh batch of oxygen and let out a huge dump of carbon dioxide.
“Solid.” He answered solemnly.
I looked out the snow pile blocked window.
One more day. My inner monologue said with bittersweet softness.
One more day.