When I Almost Met Chris Jericho

When I was ten, Monday Night Raw was can’t-miss television. I’d graduated from the Power Rangers school of martial arts and entered the “Steel chair! Steel chair!” academy of mayhem. It was two hours of people beating each other up, which, in some ways, was an upgrade from watching teenagers with attitude fight putty patrollers.

Scratch that. This shit was awesome!

It didn’t matter if the matches were fixed or if it was all scripted. I was there for the thrills. Is Triple H going to rush in for an illegal save? Who’s going to get Stone Cold Stunner-ed? Will Vince McMahon screw The Rock out of a title shot?

Raw was a show in which I was heavily invested. The WWF(/E) ramped up the drama. The stakes were high and sometimes reachable only by ladder. It added the word “turnbuckle” to my vocabulary. I learned that dousing your boss in beer would have people chanting your name and that getting up when you were down was more exhilarating when it was impossible.

I intern at a place that occasionally brushes elbows with celebrities, where the question “Who can we get?” is usually followed by a list of recognizable names.

I was at my desk when I overheard someone share her to-do list.

It went like this:

  • Doing something
  • Doing something
  • Doing something
  • “I’m meeting with Chris Jericho”

I swiveled in her direction like a dog that heard the crinkle of a goodie bag.

Chris Jericho?” I said.

Excitement rushed up, warmed my face, and threatened to burst out in one loud, electrified “WOOO!” Chris Jericho was coming, and I would see him with my own two eyes.

A smile escaped and I tried to hide it by bending the corners of my mouth down, but the smile still dimpled my cheeks. I tried to play it cool. Cool, man, cool.

© Miki Barlok

Switch-combs, activate!

“Are you okay?” she said.

“Yeah, yeah I’m fine. It’s cool.”

I spun around and let my excitement take over, which means I beamed at my computer screen for a good five minutes.

I didn’t end up meeting him, but if you asked why I was so hyped at the time, I’d be at a loss. Why was I so excited? It was only Chris Jericho. I wasn’t a “fanboy.” I didn’t know if he was still locking people into the Walls. I couldn’t name a single Fozzy song. I couldn’t think of a reason for my excitement until I got home.

Meeting Chris Jericho wasn’t what excited me (ok, it did a little OMG SO FUCKING EXCITED!), it was the memory of excitement echoing from the past.

Also from the past: square TVs

Monday night: my ten year old self engrossed in the on-screen chaos of Raw is War. At some point during the broadcast, the arena would go dark. A countdown would start on the Titantron. The crowd’s murmur would swell into cheers (or jeers).

Then, pyro!

Then, entrance song!

Then, Chris Jericho!

I pumped a fist into the air and reveled in the electricity of the entrance. I cheered when he was face and booed when he was heel. But I always “WOOOP”-ed when the place went dark and the countdown started.

Above: how I imagined Chris Jericho would enter the office.

Memories are strange because the details aren’t always clear. For me, the the who/what/when/where of a memory is secondary to how I felt at the time and how I feel as I remember it. Some memories stick around , and without the feelings associated with them, those memories wouldn’t mean anything.

The chance of meeting Chris Jericho conjured a long-forgotten buzz. You’ve probably felt something similar. No, not wrestling-related. Whatever it was, you might have paused for a split second and thought, “man, that brings me back…” and if you were on a TV show, you’d turn your head a little as the camera zoomed to the dazed look on your face while the picture dissolved with the sound of a cascading harp, and ten year old me would’ve changed the channel because OH MY GOD RAW IS ON EVERYONE SHUT THE FUCK HECK UP!

Original photo from IdleLive.com


Large Chair Seeks Small Car for Fun

I’ve always hated summer and its hot, sticky, mosquito-y days when every breath I draw is unbearable heat. On days like that, I know that as soon as I step onto the pavement, I might as well be stepping into an oven.

One searing summer day when I worked retail, a customer asked me if I could bring her purchase to her car. It was a high backed Victorian armchair that wasn’t as heavy as it looked, and I wondered if it was worth the price. I always thought, in the case of furniture, that the price of a piece of furniture should correspond to its weight. For $300, I assumed I’d at least feel some strain, maybe go to lift it and be slightly embarrassed that it was heavier than it looked. But no, it was cake.

I followed her through the parking lot, and I slogged through heat and humidity across the blacktop to a tiny blue Volkswagen beetle that had no business transporting a high backed Victorian armchair. Continue reading

Losing the Daily War

The first villain of the day is a cheap plastic menace called the “Dream Machine.” It mocks me every morning with a repeating BEEP BEEP BEEP as I lunge for the snooze. Shut the hell up! I think and I slap blindly in its direction. It’s like the damn thing sprouted wires from its body overnight to vine up the walls and blossom tiny speakers from the buds. Now they’re BEEP BEEP BEEP-ing me into a drowsy rage.

Continue reading

Seeking Shelter from the Monsters

I stand behind a podium in front of my Public Speaking class, and I’m talking about The X-Files. It’s nice outside, a few weeks into Spring. I hear a lawnmower buzzing. It’s far away, probably on the other side of campus, but the smell of fresh cut grass wafts through the open window and I feel like I’ll start floating away like a cartoon character seduced by the scent of warm cookies (and who doesn’t know that a mouse with a hammer is waiting just through the doorway).

Stay focused. You know what you’re doing. Don’t fidget. Make eye contact. Don’t bury yourself in your notes. Speak clearly. Don’t do that weird facial tick you developed last semester because you were making fun of somebody for it and now you can’t help yourself.

Oh God, I just did it. I wonder if anyone noticed. No, they’re just sitting there looking bored.

Oh God, I’m boring.

I should’ve come in costume. I should’ve brought some episode clips. I should’ve not picked The X-Files, which scared me as a kid, by the way. The theme song sent me running into another room. It conjured monsters into corners and under the bed. I use it as a ringtone now, but it creeped me the fuck out. Still does, sometimes.

Oh good, some chuckles. What can I say that will satisfy them and help me pass this presentation?

There was one night when I was falling asleep and the monsters came for me. Continue reading