Monday, June 18, 2012

Mum versus Steve Austin

Before I learnt that WWE was all just some stage-managed, scripted posturing, and that their ‘special moves in the ring’ were choreographed, I was a big fan. My brother too. Back then we were tiny tots. Unfortunately, we each supported rival fighters.

I liked The Rock, likely because he was the obvious underdog, even though I suspected that his favorite line to shout was an incomplete statement:“If you smeeeeell…. What The Rock is cooking!” So what, if you smell it?

My brother was a fan of Stone Cold Steve Austin, who swaggered in announced by the signature sound of shattering glass. I hated him, because he loved showing the finger and was always quaffing alcohol from cans and being a general lout, throwing emptied beer cans about. Unfortunately for me, Stone Cold Steve Austin regularly whooped The Rock black and blue, which may have laid the foundations for my empathy towards underdogs, which endures to this day.

Snap to a hot afternoon in the car park of Maxwell SDA Church Nairobi. My brother and I were seated in the stuffy car waiting for mum to finish whatever it was she was finishing with other mums. The boredom and impatience drove us into taking up the causes of our respective WWE fighters; chanting their respective slogans over and over again in an attempt to outshout each other. It was ridiculous barbarity. In hindsight, I daresay we were semi-consciously conducting our sibling rivalry behind the mask of wrestler allegiances. That's probably the same reason I prefer Arsenal and he prefers Manchester United.
Point is, mum walks into the car just as my brother has his biceps bunched and he is shouting “STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN!”

Now there is trouble. “What does that mean?” asks mum sternly.
Lil bro attempts to shrug it off. “Just someone on TV.”

“Someone in wrestling!” I clarify.

“Okay,” says mum, “What does Stone Cold mean?”

My bro and I look at each other and instantly recognize what’s up. This can only end in PUNISHMENT.

“Cold like a stone,” I venture, acting the fool.

“No,” says mum.

“Cold and hard like a stone,” insists Bro, “because he’s strong.” I nod.

Mum: “If you don’t tell me right now what Stone Cold means, you’ ll see fire burning!”

This forced me to contemplate the issue, although I knew the answer. Stone Cold meant the guy couldn’t care less if he broke your neck or murdered your young family. His other nickname was “The Rattlesnake”. But these were insights I could not present to Mum because then it would mean the argument took a step forward into WHY we were supporting such a misfit.

“That’s not fair, we don’t know!” whined Bro.

“I’m still thinking,” I said, buying time.

Mum knew we were lying. Still, bro and I sat looking lugubrious for the remainder of the trip home. Fortunately we didn’t ‘see fire burning,’ either because mum forgot, or because she let it slip.

But the way I figure it today, Mum soundly beat Steve Austin that day, and it was a FLAWLESS VICTORY.

PS: I don’t know why I remember these childhood events. They just come back.

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