Thursday, June 09, 2005

Meeting a Giant (memories and stuff)

The year was 1985 and I was 12 years old. After watching WWF wrestling on TV for over a year my Dad got us tickets to see them live at the New Haven Colliseum. I was thrilled. We went early because driving in New Haven is an annoying experiance at best. The first match of the evening was Chief Jay Strongbow vs. George the Animal Steele. I don't think I sat down once during it all. I also got to see some of my other favorite wrestlers, from Superfly Jimmy Snuka to Tito Santana to Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorff. After about the 5th match of the night we decided to go get some drinks during a tag team match (I just wasn't into the tag teams as much at the time). So we went out and thankfully there was no one there. My Dad gave me money for drinks and a hot dog and let me go to the stand myelf (With him about 6 feet away watching, this was New Haven after all). As I stood there waiting for one of the lazy coinsession people to notice me I saw something that took my breath away.
He came out from a back door off to the side. There was no mistaking him, not at 7'4" and 500lbs. He was born Andre Rene Roussimoff, but was known better as the 8th Wonder of the World Andre the Giant. He was my favorite wrestler and I didn't even know he was supposed to be on the show that night. He walked up behind me and the people behind the counter saw him right away. They asked him what he needed and he said that the young man in front of him had been there first. I order 2 drinks and then asked him what he wanted, what ever it was it was on me. He smiled and said just a large soda. I told him I was a big fan of his and he laughed and said that I was actually a little fan but that was alright too. He tousled me hair and shook my hand (I only shook his finger) and thanked me for the drink. I wished him good luck in his match and he said he'd win this one for me. He was huge, all you could do was look up at him, then up some more. I always thought my Dad was tall at 6 feet, but he looked totally tiny in comparison. That night Andre fought against the Iron Shiek and Nikoli Volkoff in a handi-cap match. He ended up pinning them both at the same time. I was screaming so loud I couldn't talk much for the next 2 days. It was one of my favorite moments.
I watched him for years, even after I learned that wrestling was fake (More on that another time). I loved him in his TV appearance (Such as Bigfoot on the Six Million Dollar Man) and as Fezzig in Princess Bride (Perhaps my favorite movie of all time). I cheered him even when he was a bad guy against Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania 3.
I can't explain how sad I was on January 27, 1993 when Andre finally succombed to the disease that had caused his size. It was clinacally called Acromegaly but more popularily called Giantism. He heart gave out in a hotel room while he was sleeping.
I'm 32 and stand 6'4" now, but I have a feeling that where ever he may be he knows that I'm still a big 'little' fan of his.

8 Voices In The Darkness:

Anonymous Anonymous Screams...

Hey Handsome, I love that story. It one of my favorite stories to hear you tell. The excitement and thrill I feel listening to you tell it, or write it as the case may be, makes me smile and feel so happy for you and that 12 year old little boy, who was able to see how great Andre really was not just in size but as a person. It is just awesome.

11:15 PM  
Blogger themadamefiles Screams...

This is such an incredible story! I love these memories - the kind you look back on 20 years later and say "wow' that was so cool!! My grandfather used to love watch wrestling every Saturday night, and then one afternoon while I was going through their old 78rpm collection, I found a disk called 'doing the wrestling polka' - this post made me think of it and made me smile :-)

1:19 AM  
Blogger BM, The Necessary Movement Screams...

That really was a beautiful story!! It brought a tear to my eye! Thanx for sharing that one. I have known you for so long and I never heard this story before!! BM, always learning... slowly but gettin' it done!!

8:34 AM  
Blogger Max Screams...

I have to agree with BM, that was a really beutifully told story. I've never liked wrestling that much (Even though my dad is a huge fan!) but I've always liked Andre the giant in movies. He actually was my favorite character in "The Princess Bride"... Again, great story!!!

11:20 AM  
Blogger Burfica Screams...

I love that. I didn't get to meet any up close, but we went to wrestling when I was 19. I did call Sean Michaels a dickless wonder (he was a bad guy then) when the rest of the arena was quiet. It was quite funny.

2:53 PM  
Blogger Ari Screams...

Wow... I used to love wrestling too, as the kids in my class do now. One day I let something slip that wrestling was fake, and it durn near caused a riot. I'd forgotten that I was 12 before that became undeniably apparent to me. They're 8. Oh well, they don't think I know anything anyway. :)

4:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous Screams...

*Wiping away a tear for André* - I loved him too! Great story, Az!

10:34 PM  
Anonymous Da Midget Screams...

"Stop ryming, I mean it!!"

..."Anybody wanna peanut?"


12:26 AM  

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