Part two of a five-part story. Click here to read part 1.
So now I’m a thirteen-year-old boy with a year of cable stuffed into all my brain pockets. I’m not sure it’s helping. I’m too sensitive. After surviving the first fifteen minutes of The Exorcist on a channel I’m not supposed to watch, I couldn’t sleep for days. I saw an episode of Gunsmoke that made me lock myself in my room and cry.
I like the simple and hopeful story lines the best. Like Hillbilly’s. He was just a good ol’ boy sitting in the front row at a few WWF events until, spotted in the crowd, he was given the chance to get in the ring. Rowdy Roddy Piper (a bad guy) tried to lure him into his own training camp, but it was ultimately Hulk Hogan (a good guy) who befriended the bearded giant from Mud Lick and trained him to wrestle real human beings (as opposed to pigs and dogs). The Hulk gave Hillbilly his first pair of real wrestling boots. They are friends. I believe.
I’m in a tractor beam of television. The MTV videos quickly get more racy, the WWF plotlines more outrageous. I soak it all up, let it sink down deep.
So when friends of my parents suggest that we kids get involved in modeling and acting, maybe even television commercials, I feel, despite my shyness, a funny little tug. My brother, sister, and I have “that look,” the friends say, that “all-American look” sought by catalogues and commercials, and we could make one hundred dollars for an hour-long photo shoot.
One hundred dollars for an hour of standing in front of a camera is absurd. Having painted houses with our dad, we know exactly what an hour of work feels like and what it pays. We’ve spent enough of them with rollers and brushes and blocks of sandpaper to do the math, and realize that this new equation is remarkable.