This doesn't concern you, Ric Flair: Column
So there was a time in my life when I was really into professional wrestling.
In my defense, I was 8 years old and my favorite Logan cousin, Josh, was really into professional wrestling, so we spent a lot of time at my grandma’s house playing with his action figures and miniature wrestling ring. We’d spend hours pitting the Ultimate Warrior against Hulk Hogan, or Andre the Giant against Jake the Snake, and then we’d spend more hours watching the Royal Rumbles and world championships on the upstairs TV, and then even more time talking about how the Undertaker was unbeatable and scary as all get out.
But I didn’t just confine my pro-wrestling love to Logan — it came home with me. One of my first magazine subscriptions that I paid for and came to my house with my name on it was the official magazine of the World Wrestling Federation. You kids won’t understand, but back in the day, if you wanted to keep up on the gossip of celebrities, you had to wait until a paper magazine came out once a month to get caught up. And back then, if it was popular in pop culture, it had a magazine that corresponded with it. So when I got into wrestling, I got a subscription to the monthly WWF magazine.
In retrospect, the idea that I, a person who counts novels by Chaim Potok as some of her favorites, once used to give her meager allowance money to Vince McMahon and his monthly vanity magazine, feels absurd. But I was 8, and if I wanted to know more about the “private lives” of Brett “The Hitman” Hart and Shawn Michaels, and therefore have interesting things to contribute to wrestling-related conversations with Josh, then I needed that magazine.
One Saturday morning I’m up early in the living room, television playing cartoons, cereal bowl in my lap, and I’m happily perusing my WWF magazine, and I came across an article about Randy “Macho Man” Savage and Miss Elizabeth. Now for those of you who are still reading this column just to see where its going and have no connection to any of these names, think of the Macho Man and Miss Elizabeth as the Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor of the WWF (for you younger people, think Kanye West and Kim Kardashian). They were the IT couple of wrestling, and I, along with millions of other people, had watched their televised wedding with bated breath as they took their vows in the center ring. I mean, if you were into wrestling during that time, it was a MOMENT.
So imagine my shock and outrage when I was reading my magazine, happy as a clam, only to run across an article that exposed that, oh no, Miss Elizabeth wasn’t living in wedded bliss with the Macho Man. No, she was supposedly in love with RIC FLAIR! I remember audibly gasping at the time, and rage-reading the article, which was accompanied by all these “Better Homes & Gardens”-type pictures of how happy Ric and Miss Elizabeth were, and showing off just how he was just such a better person for Miss Elizabeth than the Macho Man.
I was absolutely livid when I finished that article. First off, I hated Ric Flair; still do, for absolutely no reason than he was a villain then, so he remains a villain to me now. Secondly, no way would Miss Elizabeth leave the awesome Macho Man for the smarmy Ric Flair, not in a million years, and especially not after that beautiful wedding, with her in that long white 80s-style gown with the lace sleeves, and Macho Man in his gold and white tux, with white five-foot long-sleeve streamers, coordinating striped sunglasses and a two-foot-tall feather plume in his shiny gold cowboy hat.
Even back then, a lot of my responses to things I didn’t like was to write about them, and when I was younger, I had discovered a real passion for letters to the editor because I loved the idea that I, an everyday person, could send a letter to a newspaper and my thoughts on their thoughts would be heard. In fact, my first published “thought” in a professional paper was a submission to the Vent Line in the Charleston Gazette, where I asked why the Cultural Museum in Charleston, the keeper of all things West Virginia, wouldn’t be open on West Virginia Day. Still a question I have on every West Virginia Day, to this day.
So I grabbed my school notebook and I commenced writing a scathing, scathing I say, letter to the editors of WWF magazine, accusing them of basically committing libel (without knowing what libel was at that point), and saying that they should be appalled to print such obvious lies about two people as wonderful as Miss Elizabeth and the Macho Man, and how dare they even bring that trash Ric Flair into it. I mean, I went OFF for about two pages of white, blue-lined notebook paper in my (even back then) really terrible printing.
Oh, I was proud of that letter. So proud that I went running into my parents’ bedroom to wake them up to read it to them at 8 a.m. on their day off. I have to hand it to my parents, they woke up enough to listen to me give a dramatic reading of a very dramatic letter, and they listened thoughtfully, or as thoughtfully as two people can who haven’t had coffee and have zero emotional investment in the topic.
And I got to the end, then waited expectantly for their critique. And they told me it was a good letter and that I had certainly gotten my point across, and then they asked if I felt better now that I’d written it. I said yes, I felt much better. I did feel better — it’s amazing what committing your thoughts to paper will do for releasing all that anger and upset; the paper just absorbs all that, like a magic sponge for raging thoughts. Then they gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten:
“Great. Now throw your letter away.”
At first I was confused — throw it away? This was the greatest letter to an editor, ever, and they wanted me to toss it? But then they pointed out two things no one had ever told me. First off, that maybe wrestling wasn’t as real as I thought it was. But more importantly, that I didn’t need to respond publicly to everything that gets me riled up, especially if it didn’t really concern me. Yes, get mad; yes, have feelings. But ask yourself, “Do I need to vent this in public? Is what I’m going to say going to be helpful or am I just adding fire to fire? And ultimately, does this concern my everyday life?” And in the case of Miss Elizabeth and Macho Man, that’d be a no on all three counts.
I did throw that letter away — I wadded it up and tossed it in the trash. And even though it felt a little like I was throwing away written gold, when I look back, it was the right thing to do. Because I learned a valuable lesson, and now I’ve told you a very embarrassing story to teach it to you too:
Things you read in the newspaper, in the magazines and on the internet will make you mad, furious to the point where you feel like if you don’t say something, your head will explode. And you’ll write out letters, emails and posts, just railing against whatever has, in your estimation, ruined your life in that moment and may possibly ruin the lives of everyone around you if you don’t say something.
Good. Write your letters, write your emails, write your posts: Then let it sit. Wait 10 minutes, and before you hit send (or get up to find an envelope and stamp), ask yourself, “Do I feel better now that I’ve written it out? Will I feel even better-er if the public sees it? But ultimately, does this topic really affect me?” Nine times out of 10, you’re just as satisfied that you wrote your feelings out than you would be if you published them for everyone to read. Maybe more satisfied, because while drama feels fun for a while, it doesn’t take long for it to just become soul-sucking.
So take a page from my 8-year-old notebook when some perceived injustice or social topic really sticks in your craw: Write it out, let it sit, then, if it won’t help the situation, doesn’t add a humorous slant on the topic or truly doesn’t affect you, consider trashing it. Because if it’s not really funny, or unless it stops Miss Elizabeth from making a huge mistake by leaving the Macho Man for Ric freaking Flair, then you’re probably just adding discord. And what the world needs now, per Bert Bacharach, is love, sweet love.
We also need bigger disclaimers on wrestling shows so impressionable 8-year-olds don’t take ringside weddings so seriously. But yeah, love too.