Slick Ric

"Oh." I looked down again. Unimpressed. "So, what do you do?"

I was 10. A family trip to always expensive New York City started with a night in a cheap hotel in Jersey. After my older brother and I overslept, our father pulled us out of bed and marched us through the door. He was of the up and at 'em attitude. We couldn't possibly see enough of the Big Apple if we slept past seven o' clock.

I rubbed my eyes as I waited for the elevator. Looking down, I heard it ding on our floor. I heard the door slide open. I heard my brother shout in excitement.

The copper-plated doors had opened, and inside was a white-haired man. Wrinkled and sunburned. He looked at my brother over his knockoff sunglasses.

"Kid, I can't do autographs right now, OK?" he said. "I'm busy."

My older brother just stared in awe. My father ushered us all into the elevator. For a few long seconds, I stared up at the man's face. No one said anything. I didn't recognize who he was. I was trying to figure out why my brother was so excited. It could have been some musician he liked or something, but he was pretty old. It wasn't Danzig or Reznor or anyone else I knew that my brother loved.

Finally, I asked. "Who are you, anyway?"

He looked down at me. Took his glasses off, cupped his hands around his mouth, and shouted, "WOOOOO!" Then he looked at me, smiling, as if that was supposed to jar my memory.

"No? I'm the Nature Boy! The limousine-ridin', jet-flyin', kiss-stealin', wheelin'-dealin' son of a gun, Slick Ric Flair!"

"Oh." I looked down again. Unimpressed. "So, what do you do?"

He gave up. "I'm a wrestler, kid. I'm a famous, successful wrestler." His sunglasses where slipped back on, and he looked ahead. As the door opened, I remembered my brother loved wrestling. He was still standing next to me, gazing at this guy.

"Excuse me, Ric," I called as he started to walk off. "Can I get your autograph for my brother? I think he likes wrestling."

"Didn't you hear me?" he said back. "I'm busy."


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