Let me preface this post by letting everyone know they were right. They were absolutely right about what happens when you buy a house. I realize there are people out there that don’t care about my personal life, and for the most part, there are many things that I do on my own time that I don’t feel like talking about, wrestling-related or not. But February 14, 2008 might have been one of the worst days I’ve had in a long time.
It had a positive or two, but man, I was so glad to walk into my Lancaster abode and sit down and enter some results. Why, you ask? Well, it would be a return to normalcy.
Typically, I’ll spent 60-70 hours a week on the site during the season, sometimes more depending on the degree of projects, features and rankings to work on. Results also play a key role later in the night.
Let’s start on Wednesday, where I went to my local dive to try my hand at the weekly trivia game. Typically, the game consists of me, my buddy Nate and a different hodgepodge of our friends – all with varying degrees of knowledge (or stupidity, whichever you prefer).
One team, Bandito Incognito seems to win every week, at least once. So when they lose, everyone’s happy, except for the snobby trivia dorks that hate to pay for their own drinks/food when they lose. You see, the winner of each round gets a $25 gift card to said bar, so if they win twice, that’s 50 bones and that’ll usually cover their tab.
Oh, they don’t tip worth a crap either.
Anyway, this relates to wrestling like this – one of the questions, which I nailed immediately, was: “What country is Minsk the capital of?”
“Belarus!” I shouted to myself, and neatly penned the answer to the answer sheet. It’s not like NTN trivia, but something from the old school, pre-technology era. Well, some folks were actually impressed we knew this.
“How did you know that?” asked one of the girls on a team not named Bandito Incognito. Rather than bore her on my extreme knowledge of geography (Geography Bee finalist in seventh grade, yall!), I just replied, “I’m announcing the USA-Belarus wrestling match tomorrow in D.C.”
No more explanation was needed, since no one cares what I do for a living in this place.
So, I told you that story to tell you this story – and no, that’s not a play on the Blue Collar Comedy Tour.
I come home and decide to sleep on the couch. It’s comfortable and a great place to crash. Internet went down last night at the house and thankfully it’s back up now, but instead of waking up at my normal (late) time and jetting up the 10 miles to the office, I was awaken by the splatter of water.
No, someone didn’t break in and screw with me … it was water pouring out of my ceiling. My bathroom is on the second floor … and apparently the bowl was possessed and felt the need to keep filling … for about four hours.
So there I was, starting off Valentine’s Day (which I loathe, by the way, mainly because I’m single) with a major house crisis. I stopped the leak and started to soak up the standing water. About an inch in my upstairs hallway and about half an inch in the living room. The kitchen also was dampened (thankfully, I have no carpet downstairs). So now my ceiling tiles are soaked, my place smells like complete butt and it’s 5:30 in the morning.
Not good for someone who isn’t a morning person … and I’m not a morning person. So then the 20 clean towels that were in the basement became 20 dirty, soaked towels once I got all the standing water up.
Then, I go to work … feeling like complete garbage and having to catch up on the previous night’s results (because of the aforementioned internet problem). Then lunch (which was dynamite – Utility has a great lunch program, big ups to Stan Zeamer and the crew for getting this thing for everyone in the building).
After phoning in the claim to my insurance company, a first for me in my life, our accountant Jerry Fulmer pipes in with, “Welcome to home ownership.”
Pat Tocci warned me that I’d have some expenses not thought of when I made the purchase of the home. Sure enough, there was Pat chiming in with, “Welcome to home ownership.”
I’d phoned my mom down in Virginia to let her know of my dilemma. She’s a saint, just so you know. Well then comes the drive to Washington, D.C.
Mark Cody had hired me to announce the dual between the U.S. and Belarus a few weeks ago. His assistant, Joe Henson, had made a call to Ken Berger, a long-time friend and fellow announcer. Kenny and I have tag-teamed a few events in the past like the Beast of the East and the Virginia Duals. We poke jabs at each other all the time, but it’s all in good fun.
So instead of going with one or the other, Kenny would come up, bring his equipment (and official Mike Swisher from Hampton, Va.) and we’d co-announce the event. Kenny’s done a lot of international wrestling and likes to try to pronounce the names with panache. I just get the booming American names and the bios and plugs for the sponsors, which was fine with me.
Well, that was the theory … until everyone and their mother decided to drive really slow. Getting to DC takes about two hours. It’s 115 miles due south, but you have to go through both Beltways (Baltimore and DC) to get to American. If any of you have traveled through the Baltimore-DC metropolis, then you know what I’m about to say.
I’d built in enough time to compensate for normal rush hour traffic … I expected to be at Bender Arena no later than 6 p.m., which would be much later than I planned to start with. I wanted to be there in the 5-5:30 range.
Actual arrival time, 7:45 p.m. And thanks to my Tom Tom (lifesaver), I found several alternate routes to get me where I was going … but every single route was backed up. The sea of taillights left me bleary-eyed and irritable. Could this day get any worse?
So for nearly three extra hours, I sat in my gas-guzzling Chevy Blazer, phoning Kenny with updates on my status. It took me two and a half hours to get from Baltimore to American University … which is approximately 50 miles.
When I bought the Blazer in 2003, it cost 23 bucks to fill it up. Now it’s closer to 50, but that’s another rant entirely.
Thankfully the hiring of both of us made my tardy arrival less of an issue. Kenny already had the match started and I got there at the end of the first match, so while I didn’t get to call out Mike Zadick’s name, I did see him with his hand raised.
I pull in, Kenny’s got the mic ready for me and we get through the event without as much as a problem. It worked real well and Bender Arena is a great place to watch a match.
You could tell some of the fans were uncomfortable with the international rules, which in my personal opinion, suck royally. The Belarus team was very hospitable to the scores of fans that got autographs after the match. The American University staff was absolutely great with this event. Very likable, knowledgeable people … as they should be.
The coin tosses seemed to go in the U.S. favor with nearly all the leg clinches going the way of the homestanding American team. Zach Roberson won two matches at 60 kg and American alum Muzaffar Abdurakhmanov wowed the crowed with a big throw in the first period over his Belarusian opponent, and then won the second with an 8-2 margin. The guy is straight up nasty.
Belarus Ambassador Mikhail Khvostov was in attendance and received a grand ovation from the fans in Bender. This guy has a grip like a vise. Very proud to have his fellow countrymen wrestling so close to his digs in D.C. He had the look of an Ambassador, too. You just knew this guy was important for something.
When all was said and done (cliché alert), the U.S. came away with a 22-7 victory. The hour and change that I was in Bender was worth the misery that the entire day had brought, typical misery for Valentine’s Day, right?
Berger’s got an announcing gig on Friday and Saturday back in Virginia with the AAA Eastern Regionals, while I’m back in Lancaster announcing the F&M vs. Gettysburg dual on Friday night.
The hand-shakes and post-match meal was quality. American did it right. As I was leaving, Gary Abbott of USA Wrestling called me up looking for the match scores, which I dug up and called him back once I got on the road.
I informed him of my minor water catastrophe as we talked about the upcoming EIWA Championships (which I’m also announcing).
Gary’s response: “Welcome to home ownership.”