I believe the ability to appreciate the talents of others is itself a talent. I arrived at this conclusion years ago, while enjoying the smooth moves of Chief Kit Fox as he defeated his opponents with a tomahawk chop.
In 1956, I stepped forward with my friend Charlie to accept a small rectangle of construction paper as Sandy and Jean Dericco, co-founders of the club we had joined, war-whooped in celebration.
I grinned and examined the certificate I’d been given: a sketch of an Indian brave with a handwritten message written across his chest: “Congratulations! You are now a member of the Chief Kit Fox Fan Club!! Happy wrestling!!!”
The Dericco sisters possessed saintly traits: They received straight-A report cards and laundered their P.E. uniforms every weekend. Blonde curls sparkling like halos, they never gossiped, forgave those of us who did, visited shut-ins, and wept during the assembly that featured a handicapped man who typed with his toes.
I don’t know why these fresh-faced angels started a fan club for the professional wrestler, Chief Kit Fox of Saturday night’s All Star Wrestling. Perhaps they tired of being perfect; maybe they enjoyed watching scantily clad men grapple.
I do know why I joined: free snacks and learning opportunities. I regularly employed wrestling to subdue my sister Barbara when she got uppity. Perhaps I could pick up some pointers.
The club of four gathered in the Dericco home. We flopped in front of the TV topped by a prowling black-panther figurine and waited for the mayhem to begin.
We liked Gorilla Monsoon and Sputnik Monroe, but felt a fanatic attachment to Chief Kit Fox — especially during his grudge matches with Professor Roy Shires.
Kit Fox, beloved by the crowd, entered the arena in a war bonnet to the noisy approval of fans doing the scalper sidearm, one of his specialized moves. His enemy, Professor Roy Shires, strutted toward the ring wearing a mortarboard, graduation gown, and glasses, carrying a fistful of pencils. Inside the ropes he yelled about Western pencil necks, breaking the pencils he carried and flinging them at the crowd that bellowed its hatred of the sissy Easterner.
We club members booed and roared with the crowd, ecstatic when Kit Fox successfully employed his finishing move, the bow and arrow. When he won, we spilled popcorn, spewed root beer, danced and whooped.
On those dark occasions when the Professor won with his bombs-away, a diving knee-drop from the top rope to the chief’s throat, Charlie and I walked home in despairing silence. When Charlie turned off, I walked on alone, thinking I might cheer myself up by sneaking into the house and surprising Barbara with a Bray belly-bomb.
I don’t remember how long we gathered for All Star Wrestling, but I remember why we disbanded: Sandy and Jean were denied TV when their parents overheard the obscenities they shouted after a spectator hit the chief with a folding chair.
I still have my handmade membership card, vivid memories of the brawls we loved, and my belief that appreciating the artistry of others is a worthy talent in itself.
Have any thoughts
about talents you appreciate?
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