Dear Shannon Moore

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September 23, 2022 by The Citron Review

by Arin Calaway

 

Dear Shannon Moore,

I haven’t exactly been a lifelong follower of yours. A little over a year ago, I was still under the impression that there was nothing to be gained by spending any time enveloping myself in your industry, let alone your work. The bulk of my knowledge stemmed from the Andre the Giant biopic that came out a few years ago that I watched on repeat for several months. It captured my imagination, but it wasn’t enough to give me the push I needed. That push came just about a year ago and I’ve been hooked ever since.

 

Dear Shannon Moore,

About a year ago is when I stopped seeing thinly-veiled contempt for myself in the eyes of my parents. That veil lifted and the contempt became nightly. Being a wrestling fan seemed to be the straw that broke the camel’s back for them. One more thing I could be picked on for. One more thing I could be mocked for. Neither my parents nor my family understood the appeal it holds for me. They see the jokes about wrestling fans, they see Hulk Hogan and they watch Paul Wight’s cameo in The Waterboy and that is enough.

 

Dear Shannon Moore,

It took me a long time to learn your name. The only thing harder to find than episodes of Thunder are your WWE matches. In due time, I’ve found both. An insufficient number of either, but enough to come to know you. I’ve watched you get shoved around and belittled. I’ve watched you be abandoned and busted up. I’ve watched you get tortured and set up against long odds. I’ve watched you stumble to the ring, clutching your ribs and never back down. Your lip said ‘Extinct’ and your eyes begged mercy, but you never backed down.

 

Dear Shannon Moore,

A few weeks before my cataclysmic day, I lost almost everyone who was important to me. They had decided, for reasons I still don’t understand, that I was no longer a person important to them. As they made me strip and walk home through the snow without a shirt on, I lost almost all my friends. In the coming weeks, the others either picked sides or decided I was not worth the effort of maintaining a friendship with. I do not miss them as people, but I do miss not feeling the constant despair of crushing loneliness.

 

Dear Shannon Moore,

For the last handful of years, my family has spoken with disdain, perhaps venom, about “blue haired girls”, “he-shes”, “guys wearing dresses”, “drag queens” and just about any term you can think of to mean someone who isn’t cisgendered and heterosexual. I’ve heard Dad complain about a male colleague who wears sparkly earrings. I’ve watched Mom stiffen a little at the sight of same-sex couples in her daytime TV. A study I heard once said one in four people are part of the LGBT+ community. I have three siblings; I wonder if my family did the math.

 

Dear Shannon Moore,

There’s a lot of things I can’t say for certainty about myself. I’ve known for a long time that my parents did not raise two boys and two girls like they thought. They did, however, raise two jocks who can’t control emotions and two suicidal kids who do it too well. Four kids with eating disorders. Four kids who would cower in the basement if Dad flew into a rage. Four kids who won’t know how to love their partner properly. Above all else, they raised four kids who will not look back when they move out.

 

Dear Shannon Moore,

I see myself in you. In the ring, when I hear you plead that you tried your hardest to your mentor and still get punished while having the punishments masquerade as some kind of sick, twisted form of love. Outside the ring, in the videos you filmed, I see the man I want to be someday; fearless and self-assured. That isn’t to say I want to be you. You are your own man, as am I. The man I am has simply lived in fear since revealing himself and will continue until I make my eventual escape.

 

Dear Shannon Moore,

The Canadian winters where I live have a habit of being cold and slushy, with enough freezing days to keep roads constantly a hazard for both motorists and pedestrians. They are a noxious cocktail fit for seasonal depressions that seem to grow worse with age. Outbreaks of Covid-19 festered just as happily around me. A fear for my weakened lungs kept me either at home or at school at all times for months. The company I kept to maintain sanity, as loose a term as it is, was you and your friends, throwing watermelons and shooting guns.

 

Dear Shannon Moore,

A month ago, it was announced you would make an appearance a few hours away from where I live. You would wrestle someone I’ve never heard of before, in a venue I’ve never been to. I’ve never been to a live wrestling show. As soon as I found out, I bought tickets and firmly told Dad I was going to see you, come Hell or high water. After convincing my brother to change his moving date to the same day, I secured a ride. Parental meddling kept me from going alone; my lack of friends enforced it.

 

Dear Shannon Moore,

I never imagined you would come to Canada. Too many of my dreams have been broken to fully believe in any stragglers that might remain. I’m so far north, no merch I buy gets here in under a month. I know thousands know your name and you’ve wrestled pretty much everywhere one can, but tonight, I’m traveling 140 miles to see you. Dad will be sitting beside me and I’ll be pretending to be a girl, using my deadname. It’ll just be Saturday night for you, but it’ll be a night worth staying alive for for me.

 

Arin Calaway is an English student in Nova Scotia who procrastinates writing with vinyl collecting, embroidery and professional wrestling. His work has appeared in Provenance Journal and countless half-filled notebooks. He can be found on Instagram @piratewithvigor.

 

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