“Finally … The Rock has come back to (insert city here)!”
Mega-successful action star Dwayne Johnson, better known to many as professional wrestler The Rock, still uses that catchphrase (along with “know your role, and shut your mouth,” “if you smell what The Rock is cooking” and other pleasantries) each time he enters the ring before his occasional matches/appearances for World Wrestling Entertainment. To say the crowd goes wild when Rocky’s entrance music starts playing is like saying it’s hot here in Texas or the Cleveland Browns make their fans bluer than Katy Perry’s wig. Some WWE fans in the crowd actually cry tears of joy when—after a dramatic pause, of course—The Rock finally emerges from backstage and struts to the ring, the entire process taking about five minutes. The guy is more popular than free beer at the concession stand. Even Obama loves Rocky.
I know all of this because I may or may not have attended some WWE live events or seen a few TV episodes of pro wrestling at some point.
I couldn’t help but think of The Rock, aka “The Great One,” “The People’s Champ” or “The Most Electrifying Man in Sports Entertainment”—take your pick—as I flew into Austin-Bergstrom International Airport after visiting my native Dayton.*
It was great to be back in my adopted Texas hometown, and after a few days away from my dog, Katniss, I knew she would be so excited to see me that she would possibly body slam me as soon as she saw me.
She didn’t disappoint; Katniss put the smack down on me, The People’s Chump, the instant I got home by nearly knocking me over. The Rock—who only refers to himself in the third person, by the way (“The Rock says he’s gonna put the smack down” on whomever)—would have been impressed.
While I was out of town helping my parents sort through my belongings that are still in boxes at their house, I had a chance to bond with my parents’ dog, Sasha, who I think is a boxer/beagle mix. I guess that would make her Katniss’ cousin? And since my parents refer to Sasha as my “sister,” does that make her my lovely wife’s sister-in-law?
Anyway, it was a little odd to be around a dog who did not whine constantly, ignore commands, beg shamelessly for attention or lick me as if I bathe exclusively in chicken broth. Sasha is also a bit smaller, a few years older and even more skittish than Katniss, which I didn’t realize was possible—I’m pretty sure Sasha is afraid of my cellphone, for example. She’s also afraid of tile floors and a vent in the family room and sheds more than Katniss.
Amid the sorting I had a chance to visit one of my oldest friends, Brian, and his wife, Karri. Well, he’s not one of my oldest friends age-wise; I’ve known him for 25 years—see how important proper grammar is, dear reader? He and his wife have, aside from two cutie-pie twin girls, a Boston terrier named Zoë. She, too, actually listens and is fairly well-behaved. Are you noticing a pattern, Katniss? Never mind; you’re too busy whining.
As I was going through my stuff, of which there is far, far too much, a lot of the items I found brought back memories. I found my first dog’s registration tags and proof of rabies vaccination. I found old programs from when I used to play football in high school and felt a twinge of sadness over hurting my back my senior year. I never played much—I was average to begin with before the injury—but I know if nothing else I would have done anything for my teammates, and I feel the same about my current team, my co-workers. But man, some days that old injury still hurts!
I found a tiny model I built one summer, and Dad showed me his father’s driver’s license. Aside from one picture we have of my grandfather—in which he’s playing with his German shepherd, interestingly enough—I had never seen a photo of him, as the photo of him with his dog has him looking away from the camera. I noticed the birth date on the license said 1904; if he were alive today he’d be 111—I wonder how old that would make him in dog years? If he was still living, he’d be old enough to have lived during both world wars and the Great Depression, just missing the Wright Brothers’ first flight in 1903 by a year. There’s actually people, albeit likely very few of them, alive right now who were born when all of those events happened. How did they survive without Facebook?**
So I get home to little miss rowdy, let her outside to play and after a flurry of barking, all is quiet in the backyard. With Katniss, that’s when it’s time to worry—that’s when she’s usually doing something she shouldn’t be doing. Just as I was going to check on her, someone began frantically knocking at the front door. As it turns out, Katniss was loose again. It was quiet in the back yard because she was in the front yard sniffing the grass or some other dog’s poop. She quickly came inside the house like a good girl, and I discovered the side gate was open—again.
That entrance is now padlocked. After all, The Rock says I should know my role and shut my gate.
*I know some of us classmates had talked about meeting up once I was in town, but inclement weather made me arrive a day late—I was even forced to sleep on the floor of O’Hare International Airport in Chicago on Friday night/Saturday morning, which was kind of like a sleepover without much sleep, fun or friends—and my parents really needed my help. Next time?
**I’m sure they were better off.