We arrived in the village on a Wednesday. After taking a really long time to cook pasta (because we weren’t experts yet on how to make water boil here) I decided to join my family in the living room. I tried to sit on the floor, which didn’t go over well at all, and found myself sitting next to a stranger on the couch. I entered at just the right time- as in it was one of those awkward moments in a local soap opera where two people are lying in bed together, probably indisposed. A Buddhist monk once told me that to rid yourself of pain, you needed to say a mantra “Pain. Pain. Pain,” over and over again. At this very moment, I was saying to myself “Awkward. Awkward. Awkward,” hoping that it would go away as well. The soap ended, and the family switched the tv to none other than WWE Wrestling. I turned to my sisters and explained to them that they did not need to switch it to wrestling for us (because I mean, seriously, who really watches that fake stuff?) and that we would be happy to watch something local. I honestly thought they had changed it to an English-speaking program for us. The 12 year old girls told me that they liked to watch wrestling, and with a skeptical eye, I turned back to the television to see fake-baked hulky men throw themselves at each other.
As it turns out, the girls were rooting for Big Show and Ezekiel Jackson. They appeared to know these guys by name. I thought it was ridiculous. I seriously just couldn’t connect the dots. By this time, our extended family had left the house, and I was sitting next to kokwana, my grandmother. One wrestler slammed another to the ground, and grandma lets out a deep, victorious chuckle, and that’s when it finally clicked. Grandma loves wrestling. I nearly laughed ‘til I cried. It was the best surprise ever.
Even today, as I write this, my cousin came home straight from church to turn on a re-run of wrestling. I don’t have the heart to ask them if they know that it’s not real. I watch it and think it’s dramatic and clearly not real, but I’m pretty sure these people at my house buy into the show. I now look forward to switching the tv at 8:30pm on Wednesdays to WWE Wrestling just to watch my family cheer them on and hear my grandma (who’s a pastor) get such sweet satisfaction from watching these men beat each other up.