August 11, 2017

The Night I Met Jack Swagger, by Quarter Marshall

Believe it or not, the following is a completely true story.

It had been a somewhat stressful couple days around the house.  Not for any particular reason, let's just call it a malaise which had settled like dust on our quiet and generally unremarkable homelife.  I could tell that Alice needed to get out of the house, and being that she's a hard workin lady, deserved a treat, besides.  On a Tuesday afternoon, I texted her that I wanted to take her out for dinner, which was answered with enthusiasm, and we quickly settled on sushi.  Smugly, I put my phone down and resumed drawing G1 Climax 27.  Alice, at work, had a little extra pep in her step for the final hour of her shift.  We don't go out to dinner very often.  Maybe four to five times a year.

About a thousand people live in our town of Seal Rock, though I'd guess at least a fifth or so of that number only stay here on weekends, weather permitting.  The town center is defined by the 200-yard strip of highway which has a decreased speed limit from 55 to 45 MPH.  Here can be found a depot of chainsaw-carved bears, a post office residing within the front of a barely refitted ex-motel (the old rooms are now storage units), and two restaurants: Diner and Yuzen.  I can't speak to the quality of Diner, but Yuzen serves what is possibly the best Japanese food I've ever had, and is definitely the best sushi restaurant for miles and miles around.  I've enjoyed many great sushi meals in my old stomping grounds of Portland and Vancouver BC, but Yuzen is next-level.  However, like the post office, its placement is a bit of a juxtaposition.  Yuzen is housed in a building which was originally some kind of European restaurant, and from the outside it resembles a German IHOP.

 Great care is taken in the preparation of each dish, which means that waiting times are often long.  Alice and I once spent over two hours in the restaurant because we wanted to make a big order to celebrate an anniversary.  For us, the food is always worth the wait, but the pasty local waitresses each carry themselves with the jaded gruffness of a claims assessor, as if they're just waiting to be asked "how much longer will it take?"  To try and make up for other peoples' ignorance, I'm always overly nice to them, and they seem to appreciate it at first, but after the third or fourth interaction they'll just start rolling their eyes at me like I'm some bleeding heart dweeb forcing his unasked-for positivity onto them.  Alice and I got a table, circled five sushi rolls and three nigiri on the paper menu, grinned at our dead-eyed waitress, and "cheers"-ed our shot glasses of sake.

The meal was incredible.  Later that night, I'd be laying in bed, genuinely and profoundly sad, because I wasn't full anymore and I wanted to eat it again.  Since it was a Tuesday, it hadn't been very busy, and we were finished and had our check paid within an hour.  We got our things together, and headed toward the exit, glowing with a tasty radiance.  My happy tummy was sending good vibes to everyone we passed, all different kinds of folks sitting in booths, enjoying their Japanese cuisine, my happy tummy buddies.  There's old guy, there's surfer couple, there's family reunion, there's vacation family, there's hot chick, there's Jack Swagger, ther...Jack Swagger!?  I did a full body double-take and nearly blurted something out but my legs kept carrying my blown mind forward.  It was like, as soon as I saw him I recognized exactly who he was, with the same casual recognition as if I were looking at him on TV.  The next moment was like, oh my gawd, I've only ever seen that person on TV before, not in person!  That was the moment of the double-take, which was maybe a little jarring to him, because his head pivoted sharply towards me and we made eye contact briefly as I walked past.  He was sitting with his wife, wearing a ball cap and a t-shirt.  I think I gave a weak-ass smile and nod.

From the booths, the exit is around a partition.  When we're on the other side of it, as Alice was about to reach out to push the exit door, I touched her elbow and whispered "Did you see who's here?"  Alice stopped to measure the shit-eating smirk on my face.  Seeing how excited I was, she froze.  "What, who?"  "Jack Swagger!"  I hissed in a fevered thrall, pointing in his direction.  She said "No!  Really?"  I whispered, "Yeah, right over there!  You didn't see him?"  And she was like, "What?  No!  I wanna see."  Alice marched right past me, and I got real nervous, I didn't know what to do with myself.  I stood there facing the door, thinking that Alice was going to meet Jack Swagger and here I was, the bigger fan, too star-struck and self-conscious to even attempt to blurt stuff out at him.  It felt like a couple minutes that I was standing there in the entryway to the restaurant, not knowing what to do.  I eventually decided that if Alice was talking to him, I wanted to at least watch her do it, so I walked very slowly away from the exit, every step a deliberate attempt to not fall over, around the corner of the partition.  Swagger was sitting at the nearest table and was facing away from me.  We had been sitting at the furthest booth, and I could see Alice over there, pretending like she had forgotten something so that she could walk past him again, and get a good look.  My first thought was that she must have only left my side about 10 seconds ago, not a minute or two like I'd thought.  Then before I knew it she was back by my side, saying "it's not him" as she walked past me and through the door.

On the car ride home, we compared and discussed our individual experiences.  Alice provided a quite scientific set of qualifying examples of why the gentleman at the table could not have been Jack Swagger.  Her theoretical evidence boiled down to three main points:  1. He was regular-sized, 2. Why would Jack Swagger be in Seal Rock, and 3. That wasn't Jack Swagger.  Now myself, being of a more artistic persuasion, had a less scientific method of argument.  When I saw him, I instantly and without hesitation, 100% completely recognized and accepted that he was exactly the one and only Jack Swagger, the WWE World Heavyweight Champion, the Money in the Bank winner, the Probably-Multiple-Other-Championships Champion, the King of Oklahoma, who will forever be a part of SCW culture because the icon for our site (which may only be viewable as a bookmark icon on computers, therefore I may be the only person to ever see it, or to have ever seen it for the past six years) is a pic of him and the Swagger Soaring Eagle hugging each other as they chickenshit up the ramp.  So, since my recognition of him was immediate and without doubt, it couldn't possibly be incorrect.  Regardless of the fact that he wasn't really really tall and/or swole, Alice could not convince me that I hadn't seen Jack Swagger that night.

A few days later, after many hours of fruitless mono-deliberation, it dawned on me that lots of these famous wrestling people share their daily life experiences on the internet, and I looked up Jack Swagger's Twitter.  Turns out he was with his two kids and wife in Palm Springs, which is in Florida and nowhere near Seal Rock Oregon, and for all I know he's never even heard of Yuzen.  So, dejectedly, I put my phone down and resumed drawing G1 Climax 27.  Alice, at work, gently felt through the Great Neural Web that she was right and I was wrong.  But nobody can take away from me the feeling that I felt when I saw Jack Swagger at Yuzen that night.

The end.

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