Sunday, November 05, 2006

A Legend is a Legend...

It dawned on me recently that I had failed to comment here on this year's G.I. Joe Convention in New Orleans, except to philosophize about the state of BBQ in Texas.

The show was a great time to be sure. I saw many familiar faces and got to spend time with old friends. Taura got to see New Orleans again for the first time since spending a summer there as a child and the boys got to see, first hand, the city recounted in many a mother's tale. It was also good to see a city rebounding from the terrible human tragedy left in nature's wake.

In retrospect, though, the actual high point of the show for me was meeting Sgt. Slaughter. I am not really a fan of pro wrestling, but back in the 80s, the man known in wrestling circles as Sgt. Slaughter had actually become a character in G.I. Joe cartoons and an action figure in the toy line several times over. In doing so, he transcended his primary vocation as he was forever tied to the incarnation of G.I. Joe known as 'The Real American Hero'. I didn't know what to expect when we arranged to have him as a guest at the show, but I was very impressed once I met him. He was quite the gentleman and had more incredible stories to tell than almost anyone I've ever met.

At a dinner with the folks from Hasbro, Sgt. Slaughter told of meeting U.S. Presidents, a request for an autograph under the men's room stall at Disney World and more tales than I can remember. The stories never stopped while we chatted over catfish and po' boys. He REALLY needs to write a book about his career and those of us seated near him at the retaurant just off Bourbon St. told him so repeatedly.

I strive to remain as non-starstruck as possible in these situations, but the experience was something like meeting Batman. Like Batman, Sgt. Slaughter is an almost mythic figure in pop culture. But unlike the Caped Crusader, The Sarge is at the same time a living breathing man. Despite being an icon, his gentle manner often disguised his sharp wit and he was never at a loss for words. At one point during the weekend, The Sarge jokingly offered to wrestle me for the Custom 12" Sgt Slaughter I had made, but I declined telling him he could probably take me. He wanted to buy the figure, but I promised instead to make one for him and send it to him. I am still fighting to find the time to make good on my promise. Putting together the correct mix of odds and ends is a challenge as well, but I will get it done. He was so good at the show - to the fans, and to me - it is the least
I can do.

Pro wrestling was never really my style, so to speak, but a legend is a legend.


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