There are people in this country who have no idea what a boiled peanut is. None of those people live in the south.
One of my first memories involves boiled peanuts. And professional wrestling. You know that you grew up in the south if your childhood memories are of boiled peanuts and professional wrestling.
I couldn’t have been any more than five-years-old. My older sister was eating a bowl of boiled peanuts while watching Wildfire Tommy Rich wrestle Stan the Lariat Hansen. But this was no ordinary wrestling match. No, if Tommy Rich lost this match he would have to shave his head. Tommy Rich lost the match. I watched in disbelief as Tommy Rich’s bleach blonde mullet, newly removed from his scalp, lay lifeless on the wrestling mat.
My sister wasn’t so passive.
She threw her bowl of boiled peanuts at the television. In the south, if you throw something at the TV you get a spanking. But if you throw boiled peanuts at the TV, you get a whoopin’. My mom gave my sister a whoopin’. And she didn’t let her watch wrestling for another month. A month! One time Elvis shot his TV and he didn’t get in that much trouble.
Most people remember where they were when Kennedy was shot or when we landed on the moon. I remember where I was when Stan the Lariat Hansen shaved Tommy Rich’s head. I like to think that that makes me unique.
A few years later there was another big wrestling match scheduled to come on TV. This time it was The Nature Boy Ric Flair wrestling Hands of Stone Ron Garvin. I had been looking forward to it all week. In fact, I was looking forward to it so much that I stopped paying attention in school. At the end of each week we had to bring our work home and have it singed by our parents. On that particular week, I had failed almost every assignment. My mom was furious and she knew just the right punishment.
My mother was really good at hitting us where it hurts.
In the north, parents punish their children by making them shovel snow off of the sidewalk. In the south they just don’t let you watch wrestling. I was devastated but I painfully accepted my punishment.
My sister wasn’t so passive.
She sat outside on our tiny porch and had a talk with my mom. I’m not sure what she said. Maybe she finally apologized for the time when she threw a bowl of boiled peanuts at Stan the Lariat Hansen. Whatever she said, it worked to my advantage.
My mom came inside and told me that I could watch Ric Flair wrestle Ron Garvin.
All because of my sister.
I think that I was somewhere around 30-years-old when I found out that wrestling was fake. I haven’t watched it since. From what I understand, it’s nothing like what I grew up watching. And I can’t remember the last time that I ate a boiled peanut. Do you realize how much sodium is in those things?
But maybe this fall, just for old time’s sake, when the Atlanta Falcons fumble the football on their own goal line or one of the Georgia Bulldogs gets arrested for driving drunk on a stolen scooter, I’ll throw my turkey burger and green tea at the television.
I just hope that my wife and kids understand.