Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Dispatches from the Lake: The Body of a Canadian

Piper, more than a wrestler
Photo Credit:
The last time I openly wept for a wrestler passing was Randy Savage. Sure, Dusty Rhodes hurt, but Savage was one of those omnipresent figures in my life. He was always just on the periphery, waiting to appear and bring a dorky smile to my face. When I saw Spiderman for the first time, my eyes lit up when he graced the screen. I was working in a union office when Savage died, and I cried at my desk when I read the article. Co-workers came over to ask what was wrong, and I would explain. They’d stare at my like I had three heads and return to their empty, professional wrestling-less lives.

I had a similar experience years ago, when a co-worker sat me down to watch They Live.

I was at a family dinner when I got the text that Rowdy Roddy Piper passed. I managed to keep it together, mostly because trying to explain why you’re crying about some has been wrestler is the most annoying thing. Hell, trying to explain why you’re crying about a wrestling match is even harder.

I kept Piper in the back of my mind until I popped on Raw Monday night. I cried. I read Brandon Stroud’s lovely story about meeting Piper in his Best and Worst of Raw column for this week, and I’m still crying about that. I’ll cry re-watching They Live tonight, because a great, kind man has left this earth a little lighter.

It feels like a stupid thing to mourn a man, or more accurately, a larger than life cartoon character. Even now, I can’t really explain why it makes me so sad. I’ve been to family members’ funerals where I didn’t cry, but here I am, quietly crying at my desk about a man I never met. Why?

Because Piper was more than just a cartoon character. He was able to reach beyond the screen and, to quote Jake "the Snake" Roberts, fuck with our emotions. He made a connection with you, even if it made you hate him. He was an amazing villain. I remember watching him on Saturday mornings and hating him with my whole heart. As you got older, that hate melted away. You can’t help but respect a man so good at his job, and love him for all that he threw into it.

You want a valid reason for why I cheer heels? Rowdy Roddy Piper should be all you need to hear.

I’ve been listening to the Pogues’ The Body of an American a lot the last few days. It reminds me a lot of Piper. Give it a listen.

Maybe I’m off base. Piper’s Scottish, not Irish. He was Canadian, not American. But Big Jim Dwyer’s life makes me think of Piper and smile. Maybe it'll make you guys feel better too. So, if you’ll join this Polish-Italian mutt, flip the song on again, grab a shot of whatever you’ve got handy. Raise it up.

May your entrance to the ring be ever clear, your sleeper hold be ever tight, and your three counts be ever swift. Chi mi a-rithist thu, Roddy Piper.