Friday, August 7, 2015

Roddy Piper: Quintessentially Canadian

Piper represented Canada even if he wasn't billed from Canada
Photo Credit:
All this week, I didn't know how to write about Roddy Piper. I have spent every day since the news of his death trying to define what he meant to me and coming up with nothing other than the awful emptiness that came with the knowledge that he is gone.

As I'm typing this I am watching the leadership debate for the Canadian federal election. I am watching four party leaders keep trying to define their vision for Canada and Canadian identity. Roddy Piper was my Canadian identity. I'm not a very patriotic person. I am unmoved by heartfelt appeals to our alleged glorious history (lolz) or images of geography, whether they be mountains or trees or the prairies I grew up on.

And yet I do love Canada. I love a Canada full of loud-mouthed pricks quick to take offense but equally quick to buy a round of beer for everyone. I love a Canada with a chequered and sometimes troubling history. I love a Canada that, despite it's occasional dickish behaviour, still carries a reputation as a nation of Hufflepuffs, ready to help wherever we can.

As a wrestler, Roddy Piper was quintessentially Canadian: easily riled, blundering into some pretty problematic statements, yet possessing a smile and an ability that made him strangely lovable even though he was the biggest heel around and being, by all the accounts I've heard, nothing but caring and considerate to his fans. Piper was my ultimate problematic wrestling fave, the one I couldn't stop loving no matter what because he more than made up for his transgressions in other ways. And he's gone.

He was the same age as my mother and he's gone. And I'm sitting here watching this debate and I can't help picturing it as a segment of Piper's Pit, imagining Piper getting into it with tenacious bulldog Tom Mulcair or prodding Stephen Harper into showing some semblance of personality, and I laugh until I start crying again. I love a Canada that had Roddy Piper in it, for however brief a time, and for me being truly Canadian will always mean changing the questions just when they think they got the answers.