Monday, November 20, 2006


Odd Encounter of the Week: The Nature Boy

I spent a large portion of my 3-day weekend at Appalachain State University watching the Southern Conference Women's Volleyball Championships. My friend's girlfriend plays on Furman's team, so we have become groupies. The games are fast-paced and intense, and the fans get to sit close to floor and yell. Plus, this Tar Heel and Panthers fan needed a winner to pull for this fall (although, as an aside, the Panthers defense looked super for the first time all year yesterday; hope abounds).

Our new-found volleyball affinity has led to many odd encounters, most notably one with a large, potty-mouthed college student with many muscles and few neck who did not take kindly to our cheering when we roadtripped to Burlington for the Elon game. But these are stories for another time.

Furman, the #2 seed, got upset Friday afternoon by UNC-G, the #7 seed. Heartbreaking, especially for the players who played their last competitive volleyball of their lives that afternoon. As we were walking out of the stadium, we decided we should give away the package of tickets we had bought to people entering the stadium. We surely had no use for them and could save the arrivers 20 bucks or so.

I approached a couple of people in App State gear, but they already had tickets. I moved down the line and asked the next couple in line if they wanted my tickets. They accepted. As I handed the tickets to this bleach blond man in his mid-50's, I realized I recognized him. It took me a minute, as I mentally groped about for the identity. And then, from the dark annals of my memory, dating all the way back to my early high school WWF phase, I placed this face with none other than Ric Flair, inexplicably nicknamed the Nature Boy (if someone knows the beginnings or meaning of this nickname, I'm all eyes).

Given that I no longer follow "professional" wrestling, I didn't freak out. Flair was before my time anyways. Now if it had been Kane, that's another story. He's my favorite, er, was my favorite. I definitely would've wanted an autograph. And a picture. Ben and Kane. That photo would've been as timeless as the Choke Slam. Or even the Undertaker. Has there ever been a better nickname, given personality and context? I submit there has not. My favorite UT memory was a "buried alive" match in which the loser was the first person to get buried in a ring-side, pre-dug grave. I know the Undertaker participated, but I can't remember whether or not he won. On second thought, he had to win. He's the Undertaker, for crying out loud!

Ah, the good ol' days of the WWF. But I digress.

So I handed Ric my tickets, told my volleyball posse about my recent brush with fame, and moved along. This celebrity looked fairly normal, just another guy going to watch a sporting event. And he really is just a regular guy. He's seen around Charlotte all the time, and his daughter even went to pre-school with my brother. Maybe this encounter wasn't so odd after all.

Flair's trademark still is a loud scream that reads, "WOOOOOOOOOO," and seems to increase in pitch as the O's drag on. Meeting him as person instead of wrestler seemed to turn the "WOOOOOOOOO" into a "woo." It's amazing how speedos, wrestling rings, and hype can change the look of someone. Take those things away from the wrestler, and it's like putting glasses on Superman. You can hardly tell who he is anymore.

1 comment:

AJ said...

haha, I remember the good old days I used to watch WWF Smackdown every thursday night. I gotta admit the rock was my favorite, but triple h for some reason always cracked me up. ahh good times.