In writing about my fun year in Dallas I remembered a story about one of the resulting front yard fights. First though, you have to understand one simple truth about growing up in Dallas – you live and breathe wrestling. Anyone in the late 1970’s who wasn’t familiar with wrestling particularly the wrestling royalty known as the Von Erichs was likely in a special home or awaiting a hug at the end of a finish line. Saturday nights were spent glued to the TV cheering and jeering as the theatrics played out. I remember when my Dad told me that most of the events were staged. I gave him the time honored look that most pre-teens reserve for their deranged, out of touch parents – staged, HAH! Dad obviously hadn’t seen the nail biting hair match!! Thank God Kevin Von Erich kept all his hair; it was a close one.
If you’re familiar with the Von Erichs, as we were at the time, then you know that the patriarch of the family, Fritz, perfected such moves at “the claw”. Now, “the claw” was one of those maneuvers administered to the groin of the opponent that would leave them sprawled out on the mat screaming in pain. You didn’t want to be on the bad end of “the claw”.
So, there we were waiting on the bus. My friend Sherry had joined us at that particular pick-up spot, which had turned the bullying tide in my favor. Sherry is one of those gals I expect today is ruling her cellblock with an iron fist. She’s the kind of gal that probably trades for at least 3-5 cartons of cigarettes. She was tough then and wasn’t fond of bullies and took delight in any opportunity that allowed her to smack them around. I was just the excuse she needed. Anyway, Mike, the kid that punched me multiple times the first day of school, was standing around being a jerk and Sherry took particular exception that morning.
Who knows what was said, but a circle formed around Mike & Sherry. Mike hunkered down about 15 feet from Sherry and asked loudly, “should I do “the horse” or should I do “the claw””? No one answered, because at that point we were busily asking ourselves, “should I get bandages or should I get gauze?” Then Mike answered his own question, “I think I’ll do THE CLAW”. GADS! Not the CLAW! Mike’s hand curled into a little claw and he closed the distance between he and Sherry. About three feet in front of her he dove down to the ground, rolled over a few times, leapt up again and reached for her. Sherry looked at him, grabbed his arm, twisted it behind his back and threw him to the ground. It’s by far the most ridiculous fight I’ve ever seen. I think Sherry then began to pound Mike for his trouble.
To add insult to injury and because the bullying by these fools was coming to a well-deserved end, I saw Mike playing outside with his buddy Sandy. I got around on the side of the house and taught my cousin Kim the dance that was Mike’s moment of shame. Kim ran to the front yard and shouted at the top of her 1st grade lungs, “Should I do the horse? Or should I do the claw? I think I’ll do the claw!” then she ran across the yard, threw herself down, jumped up, ran a bit more and then finally slammed herself back down on the ground screaming in pain. Kim did this repeatedly. Finally, Mike came over and said, “Beth, you better make her stop!” then stomped and pouted his way back across the street. Some moments you just savor.
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