A Nice Day After All
Updated: Feb 19
* Previously published on Resonant Words, the Domenic Marinelli Blog and online zine, as well as Resonant Words (articles), the book, published in 2017, also by Domenic Marinelli.
(Published June 3rd, 2017)
The year was 1999; the millennium was approaching, The Red Hot Chili Peppers had just released Californication, which would go on to be a hit album, and I was in my last year of High School.
High School, in and of itself, was an adventure to say the least. I can’t say I had a horrible time; at least it was better than--let`s say--Junior High. Back then I had been subject to bullying in a big way and unfortunately found myself within the charge of a faculty that couldn’t have been bothered to prevent it, so, close to the end of my Junior High adventure, I had needed to defend myself from some serious schoolyard attacks; all for a lack of a responsible preventative body above me and the rest of the students.
Anyways, after barely completing the seventh and eighth grade alive, we, my classmates and I entered High School. The school was a few kilometers away from Sir Wilfred Laurier, our Junior Penitentiary, and Lester B. Pearson High promised a new beginning for us all. No dress code, we were finally liberated from the constraints of a boring uniform, and for those of us who didn’t like to shop, that meant shopping trips with Mom and Dad; shopping trips we didn’t really want to be on.
Well, Lester B. Pearson proved a little better. Everybody pretty much minded their own business, with the occasional bully intent on giving somebody a bad day. Unavoidable in those days … a bunch of young adolescent males raised on Goodfellas and The Godfather; what the hell could you expect?
Amidst it all, I made it through, and when I think back on it, I realize what had a pretty big part in getting me through it all, and that was the wild and crazy world of professional wrestling.
It was during what wrestling fans and the pros in the industry have come to call the “attitude era.” I’m sure you all remember it. Stone Cold Steve Austin was taking up TV time like a leach sucks up blood. I’m sure even non-wrestling fans knew who he was: bald-headed, goateed, and a take-no-bullshit attitude; it was just what a bullied kid like me needed to vent out his frustration. I saw myself in him and a lot of others from that period.
I spent hours watching matches, pay-per-views and reading tons of magazines. I even adopted a Southern Texas accent, and being from Montréal, Québec, that was rare indeed. I lifted weights, and tried to DDT and dropkick my friends at lunch. I’d perform elbow drops and leg drops in my back yard pool and spend countless hours reviewing matches on the phone with my friends. But there was one particular wrestler that stands out from that period; definitely an original.
I got a lot of flak back then for being a wrestling fan. I think even today, with all the advancements society has made, there still is a stigma attached to wrestling, and you won’t get many people admitting that they watch. But at the time, I watched and I watched proudly. If I wasn’t reading, or watching movies, I was watching wrestling, and both WWE and WCW.
Mick Foley had risen amongst the ranks in New Japan, WCW, ECW and had amassed a collection of matches that your mother sure as hell didn’t want you to see. We’re talking barbed wire, burning tables, staple guns, razors and yes, even thumb-tacks! A hell of a lot of blood, broken bones and head trauma, let me tell you.
He made it to the WWE, and while there, he made us laugh, cry, jump up in our seats (even if we were at home), and scream at the TV in frustration because he just couldn’t get a break.
And it was in 1999 that Mick Foley released his memoirs: Have a Nice Day! A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks. I, for one, couldn`t believe it. My two worlds had collided, and Mick Foley—one of my all-time favorites—had written a freaking book. But not only had he written a book; he`d written a New York Times best seller. He’d worked on it while on the road, wrestling from town to town, and writing on whatever he could find: loose sheets of paper and restaurant napkins.
I, for my part was working my second season with my dad; my first kitchen job at a local reception hall. I was learning the business and making a little bit of money. Well, I was watching Raw one Monday night, and on came an announcement that Stone Cold Steve Austin and all the boys were coming to Montreal to put on a show, and what more: Mick Foley would be doing a signing at a local Blockbuster Video Store.
Man, I wanted to go so badly … only, the announcement went on to say that the event would be on a Saturday.
Shit! I worked Saturdays.
No bother … I could take a day off; couldn’t I?
Well, at dinner the next day, I broached the subject. “Say, a few weeks from now, can I skip work and go watch wrestling downtown?”
“What do you want to go watch wrestling for?”
“I like it.”
I decided to add a little more: “Mick Foley is going to be there.”
“Oh great,” my mom said. “That’s the one I saw bleeding all over the TV the other night?”
“Yeah, but Ma … he wrote a book.”
More silence, but I knew I’d said the magic words. My mother turned to my father and helped me convince him to give me the day off.
My friends and I had made the trip, taking the bus and subway out to the South Shore. The Blockbuster Video was selling copies of the book where after you bought it, you could get it signed and have a few seconds with Mick. I was elated. We waited in line, and we didn’t have all that much to say; we counted the minutes, and every now and again grunted a word or two to one another to pass the time.
Finally, I could see him in the distance. The customary plaid shirt, black joggers and running shoes … the bushy goatee, the stubble covering the rest of his face, and the mop of hair falling down around his head covering the ear he’d lost in a match against Vader quite a few years prior. I thought to myself, what could I say to this mammoth? This legend of the world I so loved, this man who had now done what I one day wanted to do, which was write a book. I was at a loss. I could think of nothing. I looked down at the carpeted floors of Blockbuster and I thought hard. Suddenly I looked up and I was next in line. I couldn’t believe it. I stood there, looking at Mick, unable to move. I just stared at him, and he looked at me with that smile of his and he waved me over. I took a few steps forward and deposited my copy of the book before him. I was still unable to say a word. He looked at me, expecting me to say at least something, but nothing came. My throat was dry; it felt as though I’d swallowed a sheet of sandpaper as opposed to the Gatorade I’d had earlier. He was still smiling, and he went on to open my copy of his work and he signed it with his Sharpie. After he was done, he closed the book, and looked at me with a glint in his eye, and I swear he was thinking it: Kid, say something already!
Finally I blurted out the first thing that came to mind: “This is the greatest day of my life.”
What? I asked myself instantly. You get to meet Mick Foley, and this is what you say?
He laughed, out loud, and he said the words I’d never forget, and he said them kindly and with the greatest humility. “Well, I guess you must not have had a good life, then.”
The lady beside him laughed a little, as did I, and I was unable to utter a single word in response. I simply raised my hand in a delicate wave and walked away, and the minute I made it outside to where my friends were waiting, I felt like the biggest idiot on God’s green earth. How could I have been so mute and empty-headed? Me, who always had at least one decent thing to say? I had just stood there like a moron. I could have asked him about the book … how long did it take him to write? What authors inspired him? Would he ever think of doing another cage match, as one of my friends thought to ask? But no, I just stood there, dumbfounded.
Regardless, my friends and I had a little time to get a bite to eat before we had to make it back to Montreal for the show the wrestlers were going to put on, so we went to a restaurant that was next to Blockbuster.
As I ate my meal, I couldn’t stop thinking of how I’d choked in line, shaking my head as I chewed my burger.
My friends and I quickly finished our meals and we headed for the front door.
Once outside, I looked towards Blockbuster and saw that the line of people waiting to get inside had dwindled. I scanned the front of the store, and just as we were crossing the lot, heading for the bus stop, a white limousine was pulling out onto the street. I suddenly knew in the pit of my stomach that Mick Foley was in there, and I ran like a little kid and not the 17 year old teenager I was. I hit the curb and just as I did, the limo slowed down and veered towards the curb where I stood; the rear window was lowered ever so slowly. Through the window, I could suddenly see that mop of hair sticking out, and he raised his hand and waved at me and my friends, but I swear, it was me his eyes were locked on, and as he waved, he winked (or twitched … with Mick, you couldn’t always be sure), and then the limo slowly drove off onto the busy street.
I couldn`t believe it; neither then, or now.
And no, it hadn’t been the greatest day in my life, but it had indeed been a nice day, after all.
I read the book voraciously; yes, even instead of doing my homework, and in it Mick went on to describe his life and the early portion of his wrestling career. The writing was great; descriptive, funny and touching. I recommend it to fans of wrestling and non-fans alike.
Mick Foley went on to have many successes in the ring and went on to write many other fantastic books like Tietam Brown, a novel of fiction which I also highly recommend. He is one of the writers who helped to inspire my own writing career.
So many years have passed, and I don’t watch as much wrestling as I used to, but Mick Foley is a legend worth remembering, both in the ring and between the pages.
So, at the end of this trip down memory lane, I guess the perfect way to end it would be with his very own words, both profound and extremely appropriate in their own right ...
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