One of the sad duties I have to perform as an elementary school teacher is to give my young charges the occasional reality check. This comes out most often when the discussion turns to wrestling. "Professional Wrestling." I like to tell them that I am very impressed by the athleticism on display, but these guys aren't wrestling as much as they are hurling their bodies about the squared circle to the delight of fans from five to one hundred and five. It's not wrestling.
"But Mister Caven," they insist, "what about when Kane made the Undertaker bleed?"
I remind them that, as nine and ten year-olds, they should be familiar with fake blood.
"What about when John Cena hit that guy with a chair?"
Did you ever see a movie where the bad guy got hit with a chair? Do you think they really did that?
"But he was knocked out!"
You don't think he was faking, do you?
And so it goes. Nearly twenty years after I started, I'm still poking holes in the fascination bubbles of young men and their heroes. When I started, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson was just "The Rock." He's had time to go out and have a movie career and come back to the ring as a conquering hero. I try not to rub kids' noses in the levels of reality this asks them to comprehend. Do they think that Mister Johnson was off in the desert really being the Scorpion King, or was he pretending? Did he miss all those matches because of his other job as an FBI agent furiously chasing fast Vin Diesel?
Okay, maybe I should lighten up. I'm not giving away any of the Easter Bunny, Santa or Tooth Fairy secrets. Why should I busy myself trying to diminish the joys of fourth graders? Maybe it's because of the years I spent learning how to wrestle, for real. The blood I spilled from a broken nose, for real. And the number of chairs I used against opponents: zero. I guess I could offer up more of my personal perspective rather than making fun of their heroes. I could relax and let them have their joy.
I could, but I probably won't. It strikes me in the same muscle that is affected when a student looks up at me and asks if there is such a thing as Bloody Mary. Or Big Foot. The world is crazy enough all on its own without having to worry about ghosts being conjured up from a bathroom mirror or a hairy seven foot tall simian who has a thing for beef jerky. Come to think of it, Randy "Macho Man" Savage was pretty furry, and he sure liked his Slim Jims. And he was real, right?