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Riding the Lion (1 Viewer)


(This is a non-fiction piece based off of my own personal experience.)

You would have thought it was Christmas morning that one glorious afternoon. But the air still had the lingering effect of the Summer and Santa's elves were still busy making the toys. Besides, Christmas morning wasn't this exciting. I had just gotten home from a dull day of school (per usual) and my mom was basking in the smell of clean laundry and to a lesser extent, dirty laundry. She had a certain gleam on her face. Something was up and not exactly Sherlock Holmes-like, I was ready to investigate. But before I can dive into this investigation, I must rewind back to the event(s) that led up to this Christmas morning (er-uh afternoon)-esque day.

I have been a wrestling fan for as long as I can remember. I have been watching since I was four years old. Everyone has something they love. Some love their dog. Some love a sport. Some love to collect Pokemon cards. Regardless, I loved wrestling. I absorbed myself with wrestling. I didn't necessarily have the hopes and aspirations of one day becoming a professional wrestler (that's just far beyond the realm of possibility for me), but I loved what I believe to be the art of professional wrestling. Nonetheless, as I grew up, got a job and was awarded money for my efforts, I purchased the WrestleMania Anthology Box Set. To date, it is one of the best items I own. It really brought back memories that I thought were buried within my mind. So from that point forward with the advent of a job, I realized I had the distinct possibility of going to WrestleMania. People dream of meeting Shaq (actually I did that, bad example). People dream of going to the Super Bowl. I dreamt of going to the World Series/Super Bowl of Profession Wrestling: WrestleMania.

So come around October/November, WrestleMania tickets became available for sale and I hopped right on the idea that I was going to WrestleMania. I had previously for about three months, told my parents in advance I wanted to go to WrestleMania. I told them to completely erase my Birthday and Christmas and just get me these damn tickets. However, my dreams were quickly shattered like the glass of a window being penetrated by a baseball. Ticketmaster advertised that no more tickets were available. I thought my chances of attending the spectacle known as WrestleMania fell into the vast abyss known as impossibility.

To say I was distraught while disucssing this with my mother over the phone would be an understatement. A pile of heavy bricks made home in the pit of my stomach. Yet, low and behold my mother calls me back from work telling me she was at a web site that was saying there were more than enough tickets available. With her words stinging my ears, I grabbed the nearest credit card and my hand was like a magnet to the mouse. I clicked on the cheapest and hopefully best seats available. It seemed like now, the chances of going to WrestleMania had crawled out of the abyss and the light of the mighty Sun was shining through.

So fast-forward now to my Christmas Afternoon-esque day. My mom has something behind her back. If I was Superman, I would have used my x-ray vision to see what she was hiding. With the crack of a smile, she whipped around an envelope. I grabbed the envelope like it was a lottery ticket, ripped it open and a shining light protruded out of the envelope with opera music blaring in the background. It was the WrestleMania tickets. I grabbed them and cradled them in my arms like a new-born baby; my baby and proceeded to run around the house like my feet were on fire. My dreams were no longer just that--dreams, but now in fact, they were reality. My reality.

Now after that Christmas Afternoon, having realized that I actually possessed WrestleMania tickets, the thought process just wasn't spinning. I was in full blown denial mode. My heart kept knocking on my mind's door telling me I was going to WrestleMania, but my mind just wasn't buying it. Even as I sat in Detroit, Michigan the day before (Saturday) WrestleMania 23, I still didn't believe it. Realizing your dream usually only occurs in movies, but for me it was actually coming to fruition. Except on the day of WrestleMania, the hours before WrestleMania, there was but one problem.

A problem to me more important and crucial to by-pass than an asteroid to Earth contact threat. Traffic. Here I am, sweating like I just walked out of the Sahara Desert and with more butterflies in my stomach than a Summer's garden. You would have thought I was performing at WrestleMania itself. Nonetheless, the event started at 7 PM sharp and I left at 5:40 PM. Ford Field stadium was twenty minutes from my Hotel. I had plenty of time...or so I thought. We were seemingly making good time moving down the road towards Ford Field when we abruptly came to a stop behind a long line of cars. This one lane that happened to be the one you exit to get to Ford Field. There must have been hundreds upon hundreds of these hunks of metal. We are moving at a snail's pace, the tires crawling a few car lengths every few minutes. So now it is 6:40 PM and I am still sitting in this long line of cars. I started feeling human with selfish thoughts. I now didn't even want to attend this mega show if I didn't get to see the start of it.

Thankfully, I was born with a Dad that would take a bullet for me or to a lesser extent, go into the other lane and pass up hundreds of cars to get me to Ford Field on time. It is now 6:52 PM and I am literally feet from Ford Field. However, we need to find a parking space. My patience has evaporated and I take the ticket from my Dad, run out of the car and follow a group of fans to the stadium. I walk briskly to the first personnel to ask for assistance to get my seat. She says go upstairs and I sprint up the stairs like there’s no tomorrow. I ask another personnel where my seat is and he says downstairs, so I sprint back downstairs like someone just stole my wallet. My section was 132. I look up at the sign and it reads: 102. To say I was frantic would be a bit of an understatement.

Lillian Garcia got on the microphone and her words echoed like knives in my ears, "One Minute until we go LIVE!". I wanted to phone Vince McMahon right there and tell him to hold off Aretha Franklin, hold off on the pyrotechnics and wait for this sixteen year old kid from Cincinnati to find his seat. So I started sprinting around the Stadium, glancing ever so often at the sign, going up 114 to 122 and so on. I was dodging vendors and small children. At that point, I wouldn't have noticed if I ran over a Grandma with a walker. It was as if I was chasing my dream in slow motion as it skipped down Ford Field.

Luckily, I was quick enough and the Snickers I ate earlier didn't slow me down. I made it to my seat pushing past fans holding cameras and I whipped out my own camera and looked out around me. All the air in me left my lungs like I just got punched in the stomach. I was blown away. Here I am, this small kid from Cincinnati, floating in a sea of humanity, but my God there was no other body of water I'd rather have been in. The pyrotechnics went off with my eyes glazed over in amazement at the spectacle and my ears screaming for mercy. I made it. I finally made it. I had a dream that seemed to be out of my reach, but here I was grasping it firmly in my hand. Sure my seats weren't anything to brag about and sure I had some obnoxious punks in front of me screaming obscenities, but at that moment, while I watched the fireworks explode and the crowd erupt, a bullet could have bounced off of me.

Sometimes, you wish time would just freeze, to just hang in the air so you can bask in a moment, the glory of the moment. I didn't want WrestleMania to end. I wanted it to last forever. But like everything, it eventually came to an end. As HBK tapped to the STFU and the bell sounded, my Dad started walking away (wanting to beat traffic), I reluctantly followed, turning back one more time taking a picture with my eyes.

WrestleMania was perfect. The event itself had it's flaws (Kane/Khali, Women's Title, Match placement), but how can achieving your dream, living your dream not be perfect? It was an event that will forever be stapled to my memory for future observation. The old saying goes, "If you give a mouse a cookie, he is going to want a glass of milk." I felt like a mouse now having just finished my chocolate chip cookie. I wanted to continue to relive my dream every year and continue to attend this spectacle of spectacles.

A dream is what it is. A dream. It is something that often exceeds the grasp of humans. Yet, we thrive to attain it. I grasped mine, but I am already dreaming of holding it in the sweaty palm of my hand again. I lived in the moment and the moment will now forever live within me, regardless if I attend another WrestleMania or not.


Thanks for reading. :)