If you’ve never been to a professional wrestling match with your mother, you’re not a true southerner.
I became a true southerner in the sixth grade.
My sister and I decided that the perfect Mother’s Day gift would be tickets to see Ric Flair wrestle at the Omni in Atlanta, Georgia. As if that wasn’t good enough, two wrestlers who called themselves The Rock and Roll Express would be giving out free roses to the first few hundred moms who came through the door.
What mother wouldn’t want to spend the one day of the year devoted to her by watching old, flabby men pretend to fight one another? What mother wouldn’t want a very special rose given to her by two young men wearing tights and mullets?
Giving her wrestling tickets for Mother’s Day was sort of like a husband buying his wife a Home Depot gift card for Christmas.
But my mom went anyway, got her rose and saw The Nature Boy Ric Flair get fake beat up by Hands of Stone Ron Garvin.
She never complained.
That was a long time ago. My mom would only live for about another 15 years after that Mother’s Day. The Omni wouldn’t even make it that long before being torn down and replaced by Philips Arena.
A lot has changed.
A few years ago a friend invited me to come with him to watch his cousin wrestle. I quit watching professional wrestling a long time ago but I jumped at the opportunity and brought my two-year-old son along with me.
The matches were in an old building that looked like it used to function as an auto body shop or furniture store. The wrestling ring seemed to barely fit in the tiny building. My son was a little scared.
I, on the other hand, felt like a kid again.
The first wrestling match started about 30 minutes late because Dr. Demento and his sidekick, The Masked Mauler, got caught in traffic.
I’m a college graduate with a Masters of Divinity from a prestigious seminary and I am a Southern Baptist pastor but by the time the first match started, all of that went away. I was in the sixth grade again. But this time, while I was yelling at wrestlers and pointing at them with one arm, I was holding my two-year-old son with my other arm.
If you’ve never been to a professional wrestling match in an old furniture store and yelled at the professional wrestlers while holding your infant son, you’re not a true southerner. All that was missing was the Mountain Dew.
If there’s a lesson to be learned here, I think it’s this. If you live in the south and you really love someone, you take them to professional wrestling matches, even if that someone who you love doesn’t like professional wrestling.
So guess what my wife and I will be doing next year for our tenth anniversary.