Once upon a time in the far-away land of a central Indiana high school, there was a
kid on the wrestling team. I’ll call him Stuffy McBooplesnoot. Allow me, please, to paint a work picture of this exquisite specimen rolling around our wrestling mats.He was 44% body fat. That’s almost half of his body mass taken up by sloppy, buttery fat. Underneath a mop of Hobbit hair that would make Samwell Tarley proud poked a face where his eyes and even his mouth struggled to be seen around his massive cheeks. Any effort to grab him and attempt a folk style wrestle technique resulted in one’s hands squishing for miles before they hit anything solid, like a cloud wrapped in white flesh. Stuffy wore old sweat pants that barely contained his mass, and when we would do our warm-up runs, he couldn’t even muster the speed to get both feet off the ground.
This kid would huff and puff through a practice, usually leaving a trail of sweat on the mat, as if a large, humanoid slug had passed through the area.
Every technique drilled during those times was performed in an excruciatingly slow motion. He had no skill, no muscle, no ferocity, no speed. He never really got better, and actually spent every practice achieving new levels of sucking.
That puffy heavyweight is my hero.
We never thought that he would quit. We all just assumed he would have a heart attack and die on the mat, yet somehow he survived every day. He would even come back the next day to grunt and squint through more punishment. I can’t imagine the fear he must have felt going to wrestling meets, knowing that he was going to lose, and that he was going to do so in an embarrassing manner. His opponent would simply have to take a step back, while Stuffy flowed directly onto his own face in slow motion. The opponent would then be able to lazily walk around Stuffy’s prostrate form, roll him over, and let him pin himself while struggling like a tortoise on his back.
You could even see it in his opponents’ faces as they got their first look at him. It was that look that said, “Duuuuuuude… I could thrash this walking bacon so bad he’ll feel it yesterday!”
And they would. Every time.
Every. Single. Time.
It was an ominous night for a JV wrestling meet. The stars seemed to be shifting in their celestial paths, and a strange vibration filled the earth with a sense of power. Something great and/or terrible was about to happen this night, and it would take place in the gymnasium of a Hoosier school.
The meet progressed in weight classes. First the 103 pounders (little more than sparrows in singlets), then 112 lbs (slightly larger sparrows in singlets), all the way up to the heavyweight class. The whole team knew what would happen there as we watched Stuffy shuffle his way onto the mat.
Then something happened. From the other side of the gym, each of us noticed the opponent; a ham planet whose singlet was fighting a rapidly losing battle against an army of rolls. Our normally amused faces brightened all at once as each member of the team silently (and not-so-silently) wondered, “Do you…do you think this guy could be…worse than Stuffy?” It was unlikely, but the glimmer of hope was no longer waning in our collective eyes. The mocking despair had vanished.
The two kids shook hands in the center of the mat, arm flab swinging in the bright lighting. As the referee blew the whistle, the two beasts surged forward, colliding in a tidal wave of flesh. After a mere two seconds of “wrestling,” the whole team leaned forward on the edge of our seats in the bleachers, eyes locked in disbelief, as we realized that the other guy was just as terrible! It was bad wrestling on an epic scale, like watching a couple of 275 pound gummy bears fight. They were literally slapping each other (and the gods of technique) in the face.
The improbable entered the realm of possibility when the other guy stumbled and fell backwards. In visible disbelief, Stuffy stood still for what felt like whole seconds, trying to comprehend why he wasn’t the one on his back. When comprehension finally punched him in the head, he realized that his opponent lay before him in a position of vulnerability, and victory was no longer out of the question. In a slow motion surge, he leaned forward and fell onto his opponent, whose rolls had just stopped jiggling on the mat.
The team was no longer sitting. We weren’t even standing. We were jumping up and down, screaming like a group of chimpanzees on crystal meth. We were all roaring with excitement, slapping the ground, punching the air.
There was a moment of excruciating suspense when Stuffy’s opponent’s shoulders, already touching the mat, were blocked from view by Stuffy’s bulk. Will he pin him? Is this the day that victory loses it’s elusive nature?
Planets aligned, the sun stood still in the sky, and heaven and earth smiled upon Stuffy as the refs hand slapped the mat, signifying a pin.
The gym turned into the final scene from the movie “Rudy.” There was not a single human being sitting down, as we all rushed the mat in a tidal wave of excitement and teenage testosterone. As soon as the ref raised Stuffy’s hand in victory, the whole team tried (and failed) to lift him onto our shoulders while chanting his name until the gymnasium walls echoed with it.
I don’t know what he’s doing right now. It’s been almost twenty years since that day, after all. I don’t know if he’s a successful businessman, a programmer for Apple, or playing D&D in his mom’s basement. I’ve seen his picture pop up on Facebook occasionally, and he looks nothing like he used to. The picture I’ve painted of his appearance here no longer applies, and he has become exponentially leaner. I don’t think that he continued wrestling the next school year, but I do know that he finished what he set out to do. He completed a whole season of what had to be the roughest physical torture he had ever endured, and he ended it on a high note.
I also know that as we psychotically screamed his name to the heavens that evening, and as we smiled at him and shook his hand in congratulations all through the next day at school, that kid was a god for a day.