FROM THE VALLEY: The Sting of a Bee's Friend
By Tom Valley
So my father said to my mother, “Margaret, where's my ...”
Wait a minute. Maybe I should back this up a little bit – just in case you missed the beginning of this narrative from last week's column. Shame on you, by the way, if you did. Two stroke penalty.
Anyhow, I was telling the story about the time, in 1987, when my brother, Tim, was in Tampa, Florida visiting our parents. I had called my folks on the phone, and Mom said that Tim and Dad were in the backyard chatting with the neighbor, Brian. Brian Blair just happened to be a professional wrestler in the rough-and-tumble, very crowd-pleasing World Wrestling Federation at the time (as B. Brian Blair). He also wrestled in the popular tag-team duo, The Killer Bees, with “Jumpin” Jim Branzell as his partner.
Brian had come over to the house, along with his buddy (another wrestler), to show off their new Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Yup, they got a better deal by buying two, so the friends each bought one. My folks knew the guy as he'd come over with Brian before. His name was Terry. Not being followers of the pro-wrestling scene, they weren't familiar with his more well-know persona as the Hulkster. That's right, the one and only ... Hulk Hogan, in the flesh.
My brother was aware of who he was. Mom and Dad ... not a clue. For all they cared, he was Herman Crunk from Anytown, U.S.A.. (Herman Crunk, by the way, is the name of a good friend of my other brother, Mike and mine. An imaginary friend – and, strangely, Mike has an autographed baseball which Herman signed. Don't ask.).
I also explained last week that my father liked to videotape the world around him; and - for a short stretch - watched life pass by, through the half-inch eyepiece on his ever-present monster, over-the shoulder, seemingly 800-pound camera. And now that we are pretty much caught up to date on the story, let's roll.
When Dad saw these two guys pull into the driveway, his first reaction was to run into the kitchen and ask my mother …
“Margaret, where's my camera?” as though something the size of an air-craft carrier would be hard to find.
“It's right there on the table where you left it about 45 seconds ago,” my mother answered. She was quite used to casually responding to Dad's incessantly thinking-out-loud type of no-answer-necessary-nor-expected-because-the-answer-is-quite-obvious mumbling.
Dad grabbed the camera and adeptly strapped the cumbersome apparatus to his upper torso as he flew back out the door in his never-ending quest for that once-in-a-lifetime, magically rare, Kodak-moment video. He was all pumped up. Tim had given him the lowdown on who and what Hulk Hogan was as the two bikers pulled in. That's when Dad rushed inside to get ready for the video of the century. This was going to be it.
No more twenty minutes of filming the yard from the seat of his John Deere, riding-lawnmower to catch a fallen orange being ripped apart by the blades of his green machine – this was the big time. In fact, this just might bring the Academy Award people to his door begging for him to share his brilliant talent with Hollywood and all of the free world.
But then again: With a grin on his face that a table-saw couldn't erase, Dad approached Brian and the Hulk with tape rolling. Suddenly, the Hulkster reached out and abruptly put his giant paw over the lens.
“No videos!” he barked. “Sorry, Leo (my dad), I just can't take the chance of someone selling stuff like that to one those paparazzi TV-shows. It's in my contract to not let it happen.” Still shots were alright, just no video. Warning: a bad ending is dead ahead. Proceed with caution.
Dad's world suddenly came tumbling down; it ceased to exist as he once knew it. He was as crushed as a one-legged snail on a 6-lane highway. Suddenly, the weight of the camera, something he never noticed before, dropped him to one knee. My brother and Brian rushed over and lifted the artillery-like contraption from his shoulder and helped Dad over to a lawn chair. Drained from the shock and disappointment, he stared into space like he was reliving the war (WW II) and hitting the beach in Normandy.
Remember that bad ending I warned you about? Well, here it is ....
That's it. The end.
I'm kidding. I'll wrap it up next week
That's the way it looks from the Valley.