When I was in maybe the 5th grade, circa 1962, my school hosted a pro “wrestling” event as a fundraiser, complete with elevated ring, in the high school gym. This was before professional wrestling was the gigantic entertainment machine it is today. I think it was a fairly new phenomenon, and I didn’t understand what it was all about. But some of my friends said I REALLY should go and see! So, I did.
In early 1960s small town America my parents gave me the 35-cent admission fee and let me go by myself. No chaperone required. There was a decent crowd there, but I managed to find a front row seat. I couldn’t quite wrap my head around what was happening. I mean, these guys were CLEARLY faking it, so who could possibly find this entertaining, right? As the bout got going an older woman two seats down from me started getting excited and YELLING, applauding, screaming at the refs, etc. I was stunned. What the heck? She kept this up throughout the matches. After it was done, I figured she had been planted there by the wrestling outfit to stir up the crowd, because NOBODY could legitimately get that worked up over this mildly amusing crap!
But a couple days later I saw her again at the local grocery store, and I overheard her gushing to someone about how WONDERFUL the match was, but how much she HATED that one unfair ref! That’s when I first realized that there really are crazy people in my world who believe in fairy tales, in fantasy, in fake news. But they seemed few and therefore insignificant, so I dismissed them. We all did.
On January 6, 2021, I realized that those “insignificant few” have become a pus-filled boil that burst open in our society. Some say the signs were there all along. I suppose they’re right. I saw the first sign in 1962, in the gym, with the woman screaming at refs in a fake wrestling match.