I attended the Big Time Wrestling event at Talbot Rink, a fund-raiser for the Gloucester Police Relief Association, a recent Friday night.
My phone said it was 90 degrees, but it felt something like 120. People used paper plates and fish tub covers as fans waving them in back and forth motions in front of their faces. Breathing felt like an act done through a straw. No air.
Yet, people cheered and booed and cheered in excitement, high-fiving the wrestlers as they entered the ring for their battle. There were 2-, four- and 6-year-olds bopping around, holding onto the hand of their mother or father, peering only through the eye holes of their mask. Some little ones wore championship wrestling belts that were bigger than they were.
I could feel the sweat dripping slowly down the front of me, the back of me, and in the creases behind my knee caps. But my grandfather and I brought my cousin Ian to the event. He’d been anticipating our outing all week.
We’d frozen three water bottles in the freezer before we left that night. They were nice and cold, but gone within minutes. I dug out two dollar bills, took some more from my grandfather and headed to the vending machine for three waters.
I hopped in line behind a man holding a toddler. He was wearing an oversized navy blue T-shirt and holding out his dollar bills in front of him like a statue. The girl in front of him must have been seven or eight. She had on hiking sandals and a pair of workout sweat shorts and she sported a pony tail held loosely with a bright blue scrunchy.
She fed her money into the machine, squinted through her oval glasses at the slit into which she slid the bill, and seconds later the money came right out, hitting her in the face. She put it in again. The machine spit it back at her. In, out. In, out. In, out.