pickles and wrestlemania

I’m probably the most nostalgic person you’ll ever want to meet.  I seem to get more nostalgic about things in the summer–even more than around Christmastime.  I’m not sure why.  There’s just this feeling of yearning for things from the past.

After work tonight, I passed out for a couple of hours and woke up to news that Rowdy Roddy Piper died.  Now, most people who know me are probably sort of shocked that I know who that is.  Some are probably more shocked that I was actually a fan, and that Roddy’s death brought on a flood of happy memories for me–though I was definitely sad to hear he’d gone.  I was already in a weird mood from my nap.  I dreamt about my father–who was definitely still dead.  But it wasn’t the gut-wrenching, loss-filled dreams of my past.  This was me talking about my father–something I now love to do.  Mostly because it feels like he’s less gone.

My childhood was not an easy one.  Maybe no one has easy childhoods.  Who’s to say?  But I remember Roddy was part of some of the acutely good things in my life, and I just wanted to share.

When I was pre-pre-teen (8 or 9, maybe), my very best friend–who was also my next door neighbor–three years older than me–would work for her dad’s vacuum cleaner company.  Every weekend, he had custody of her.  He sold vacuum cleaners at the local flea markets and basically brought her along to help get some sales.  In exchange, she got money.

For a little girl from Westwood, money was pretty magical.  (Oddly, money played a huge role in my friendship with her–for ridiculous reasons).  Every single Saturday night, V and I would walk to the little store and buy all kinds of junk food.  Chips, ice cream, frozen pizza, candy, soda, popcorn, instant Folgers coffee, and these amazing giant pickles.

It was sort of our version of Stand by Me.  We had many of these sojourns.  We walked a lot back then.

We’d carry as much as we could and sit two hands away from my beat up television set on the linoleum floor of my living room.  And Mama would make us anything we wanted–including the coffee.  And we’d watch Wrestlemania and Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling.  Sometimes, we’d watch the Monkees or something else that wound up on Nick at Nite.

We both knew it was all fake, probably, but we were in love with the campy theatricality of it.  We’d eat our pickles and Jiffy Pop and giggle about it all.  We’d beg Mama to buy us Faberge Shampoo.  And once, we even shampooed a Barbie’s hair. (It was never the same).

My favorite wrestlers?  Hulk Hogan (of course) and Bret the Hitman Hart.  I mean. I had such a crush on him.  Ridiculous that I can still see his hot pink pants and can conjure Hulk’s exact words.

It brings me a lot of joy–to think about these things.  And Roddy was part of it.  Not my favorite, but almost.

I laugh sometimes when I remember my childhood.  I had such a different childhood than so many people.  The fact that TV dinners make me sort of choke up says a lot.  But these are my memories of a time when the world was somehow kinder and much more entertaining.  I miss that little girl I was back then.  I miss the little girl who shared that life with me.  I wish, now, I could give them both a hug.  And race them to eat all those giant pickles.

Thanks for the memories, Mr. Piper.


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