A PRESSING PRESS CONFERENCE
The scene is the Studio Ballroom at the MGM Grand. The podium stands in the middle of a room with a dull chatter from the sparse attendance. There are about 100 chairs set up, but only a handful are occupied. Standing by the podium, wearing a black suit and tie with a white oxford shirt, is a man with long, silver hair and surprisingly smooth skin, sunglasses over his eyes. Savvy observers may remember him from his days in Message Board Entertainment as the one-off character Sephiroth.
Walking around the room in a similar suit is a slovenly man with hair that might be best described as “steel wool-like,” a gut that hangs over his pants like the eaves on a South Philly rowhome, and a body odor that repulses all whom he walks near. Even savvier observers may recall his short run in A1E as Italian-American stereotype Joey Baggadonuts. Another one in a suit that still has tags on it is wandering around inspecting bags and getting maced for his efforts. Joke’s on them; he’s immune. He twirls his moustache with purpose after each failed attempt at pickpocketing. He’s the former A1E Triple Star Champion and resident con artist Roderick McRatrick. Finally, Mikey, the brother of the person everyone is here to see, is standing by a closed door, the only one in a suit with an earpiece.
The crowd is sparse as noted, but it contains some important people. Dusk sits in the front row, wearing a t-shirt and track pants. A few seats down from him sits lead interviewer Angelica Brooks, wearing her ReV-day best. Matt Mills is courteous enough to leave a seat between him and his senior. Also in the front row, but in a seat separated from the rest of the crowd is the matriarch of the Puddings family, Karen, dressed in her Wal*Mart best and bathed in Kim Kardashian perfume. Production assistant Mark, who may or may not be on probation, sits a few rows behind, flop sweat visible on the armpits of his work ‘n wear. One seat next to him is El Hijo del Super Cool Guy, as lively as ever. King Blueberry is a few rows behind them trying, and failing, to keep a low profile. A few seats over is Ria Nightshade, who looks ready to pull a switchblade out of her boot at the slightest provocation.
Head referee Timo Bolamba is a few seats in front of her, in his referee shirt and a fine pair of black slacks, looking attentive and ready for the circus to begin. Flanking him, looking less attentive but just as dressed in their ref garb, are Elvis Nixon and Jimmy Turnbull. In the last row of seats, Rezin has taken to looking under chairs for spare change and/or incompletely eaten hot dogs or maybe a roach someone left behind. Given that he’s in a conference room in a high-end hotel and not backstage at an Eyehategod concert, he finds himself with no luck. The Enemigos sitting in the final row have not noticed him at all. Finally, sitting on the floor a good five feet behind the last row of chairs is Bobby Dean, eating a curiously long meatloaf po’ boy, which is something that actually exists.
Able to concentrate on his task above the chatter of the room, Mikey touches his earpiece and gets word. He opens the door to allow his charge to walk into the room. Simultaneously, McRatrick rushes to the podium, nearly tripping over Dean’s sandwich and “accidentally” hip-checking one of the Enemigos en route to the microphone.
RMR: Hello, I am Roderick McRatrick, The Anglo Luchador’s Chief of Staff. I am here to welcome you to the inaugural “Anglo Luchador Vacation Club” seminar. I hope you all have your bonded, $50,000-checks ready to hand ov-
At that moment, the old luchador, dressed stunningly in a black suit with silver pinstripes, purple floral print tie, silk shirt, and patent leather shoes, arm-drags McRatrick off the podium and into a stack of spare chairs off to the side.
TAL: Hey yo. I apologize for any inconvenience that dipstick has caused you. He neither speaks for nor represents me. Now, you’re all wondering why I called this press conference…
King Blueberry: Not really, no.
TAL: Yes, you are, and you’re not allowed to interrupt me yet. I’m not Sarah Huckabee Sanders, you know. I will dropkick a S-O-B for being disrespectful and not just pretend my Gorgon-level bad looks will turn you into stone eventually. Anyway, it has come to my attention that certain people in this promotion have accused me of unsavory acts. I would like EMPHATICALLY to deny them. Read my lips, no new taxes. I am not a crook. I don’t know what the word “the” means. I did not inhale. I certainly have never been to Teapot Dome. I do not own stock in Brawndo. It has electrolytes.
Ria Nightshade: Why am I wasting my time here? Facts are facts. We know you eat Ic…
TAL: Hey, pipe down, you will get your chance to speak. Now, I am opening the floor to questions…
Several people in the crowd stand up to say something, but lead reporter Angelica Brooks is the first to assert herself.
Angelica Brooks: Mr. Luchador, Angelica Brooks, PRIME interview corps, I’d like to ask…
TAL: (interrupting) Whoa, whoa, whoa, I don’t know how you gringos do press conferences…
Ria Nightshade: Uhh, you’re a white American too, dipshit!
TAL: (brushing her off) …but lucha libre press conferences start with the subject asking questions to the audience. And my first question is to you, Rezin, in the back. What are you doing to that poor Enemigo?
Rezin: Hm, WHAT?! NO!! I wasn’t trying to get them to unionize in order to start a socialist uprising within PRIME or anything! STOP LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT!
TAL: Alright then, hotshot, when was the last time you read State and Revolution by Vladimir Illytch Lenin?
Rezin gives him a blank look.
TAL: Okay then, I…
Rezin interrupts the old luchador.
Rezin: Okay, but my question is, if IcyHots can’t be consumed, can you at least verify rumors that when INHALED, they may produce some psychotropic effects? Asking for a friend…
TAL: I said this wasn’t time for…
The Goat Bastard is again oblivious to the interjection.
Rezin: Look, will I get high if I burn it?! Give me something here! I have to fight NOVA tonight, for chrissakes! You expect me to go into that SOBER?!
TAL: Goddammit, next question, Bobby Dean…
The camera shoots quickly, The Office-style, at Bobby, who is still nibbling at his abominably long sandwich.
TAL: Did you bring enough for everyone?
Bobby Dean: Are you kidding? I didn’t bring enough for ME!
Bobby Dean: Uhm, I think I’m supposed to ask a question now, right?
TAL: No, the time is for me to ask questions, but seeing as though you have enough to deal with in your normal travels, go ahead, ask one.
Bobby Dean: That was my question…
TAL: Son of a… next question, El Hijo del Super Cool Guy! Where were you the night of October 27, 1997?
The camera jump cuts to the mannequin, then jump cuts back to the old luchador, then back and forth a few more times the same way that it did between P. Diddy and that guy with the crazy blonde hair on The Four. Finally, the camera rests on The Anglo Luchador.
TAL: I am satisfied with your answer. You’re free to go, no further questions your honor.
The room starts to buzz again, but Angelica Brooks cuts through the noise.
Angelica Brooks: Mr. Luchador, how much longer can we expect this farce to continue? You are wasting our time, please let us conduct this press conference based on the reasons why you called it?
TAL: Oh, okay, fine, ask your question, Angie.
Angelica Brooks: Okay! I’d like to ask you…
TAL: Too slow, next question, from the guy in the ref shirt and the facepaint.
Timo Bolamba stands up to ask his question.
Timo Bolamba: Well, you know my name, we trained a few weeks ago, but I want to know, on a scale of one to ten, how do you rate the officiating here in PRIME?
TAL: A fine question indeed, Mr. Bolamba. Normally, I would say zero because no gods, no masters, but since you were kind enough to show me how to work out my calves, and because I would love to get away with some light cheating here or there, but only against opponents who deserve it, I will say ten.
Timo Bolamba: Regardless of your favor, we do not condone che…
TAL: Ah ah ah, that was your question, time for someone else, you, the comely MILF in the front row.
Karen Puddings stands up, unsure of what the word “MILF” means, to ask her question.
Karen: Yeah, I just got one thing on my mind right now I was hoping you could answer, young man. How come there isn’t no douche dispensers in the bathrooms here? I thought this was a fancy establishment, and how’s an ol’ go-getter like me supposed to stay fresh when I’m trying to get a little di…
TAL: WHOA WHOA WHOA that’s just a little too much information there. Hoo boy, I see where Mussy gets it, but I have it on good authority that the vagina is indeed a self-cleaning oven, okay, before we get too lewd here, who has another question anyone BUT Ms. Puddings there and definitely not you…
The old luchador levels a finger at perhaps the most colorful member of the gathered ensemble, and King Blueberry jumps to his feet. Within the last few moments he has seemingly come into possession of a sport coat and pair of glasses. Don’t think too hard about where they came from, else your nose start to bleed. Also, a yellow sticky note with the words “PRESS PASS” has been slapped over his breast pocket.
King Blueberry: Yeah, hi, Clark Parker here on special assignment from the Planetary Bugle. First, allow me to apologize for my colleague’s crude remarks earlier. He is currently undergoing sensitivity training.
He gestures towards his mannequin companion, who is also wearing glasses and a blazer. Because of course he is.
El Hijo Del Super Cool Guy: …
King Blueberry: No, they do NOT want to hear your opinions on immigration! I am so sorry about this. He’s a work-in-progress. Anyway, given the current socio-economic climate, given the conflict in Ukraine, the rising gas prices, and the apparent end of a years-long health crisis, our readers are curious to know what the IcyHot tastes like. Do you sweeten it with anything? Splenda? Sugar? Sweet’N Low? Also do they still make Sweet’N Low? Thanks.
He sits back down.
TAL: Do I need to get Terrell Owens here to start doing pushups next to me? Because NEXT QUE… no, NOT YOU, ANYONE BUT YOU.
Ria Nightshade rises to her feet.
Ria Nightshade: Shut up, bitch! I’m invoking my democratic right to free press! Or something like that. ANYWAY, do you eat different kinds of IcyHot or do you just stick to the standard stuff? Do they taste differently from each other? These are burning questions the public demands answers to!
TAL: C’MAWN! Isn’t anyone here going to throw me a softball?
Angelica Brooks rises.
TAL: EXCEPT YOU! You had your chance.
Angelica Brooks: See if I ever have you on my podcast.
The old luchador turns to the oldest person in the room, sitting in the front row.
TAL: Dusk! Dusk! Craig, ol’ buddy, ol’ pal. YOU SURELY HAVE A NICE, EASY QUESTION TO ASK ME.
Dusk looks down at his three hundred page notebook, filled with copious notes, and pulls a pen from behind his right ear.
Dusk: So, I’m hearing there is either a groundswell or rumors going around to get you a sponsorship with IcyHot. Has there been discussions from either side about a potential sponsorship with IcyHot? Is there a grassroots uprising in order to make you the face of IcyHot? How do you feel about becoming the face of IcyHot? Are there other sponsorships that you’re looking to get? Maybe metamucil? Maybe AARP? Is there a reason you’re not answering my questions and just looking at me dumbfounded?
The Anglo Luchador is just looking at Dusk dumbfounded, as Dusk himself has described. The natives start getting restless.
Angelica Brooks: Why won’t you let me ask my question?
King Blueberry: YOU EAT ICYHOT, ADMIT IT.
Ria Nightshade: DON’T LIE TO US ANYMORE, YOU JACKASS!
El Hijo del Super Cool Guy: I HEARD THE COOLEST PLACE FOR US TEENS TO HANG OUT IS Ｔｈｅ Ｃｏｌｏｓｓａｌ Ｐｉｌｌａｒ ｏｆ Ｗａｓｐ Ｅｇｇｓ LETS GO DO NOT BRING WEAPONS.
Everyone turns around to look at the mannequin.
El Hijo del Super Cool Guy: …
TAL: That’s more like it.
The fracas continues where it left off, Mikey and the two men who formerly portrayed wrestlers are trying to calm them down while Roderick McRatrick is in the process of pickpocketing the Enemigos, finding only pocket lint, Guatemalan bank notes for one quetzal at best, and Tootsie Roll wrappers. Finally, the old luchador bangs his opened palm on the microphone. The resulting noise gets everyone to shut up.
TAL: OKAY, OKAY. I didn’t think it would have to come to this, but I will prove to you once and for all that I do not eat IcyHot by putting IcyHot in my mouth for the first time ever in front of you godless heathens. Mikey, can you bring me the jar, please.
The old luchador’s brother dutifully brings him a tub of the muscle-relieving liniment.
TAL: Once and for all, I am going to show you how NOT EASILY this stuff goes down.
The Anglo Luchador sticks his three middle fingers into the tub and shoves it in his mouth, WInnie the Pooh-with-a-jar-of-hunny style. The moment the stuff hits his tongue and inner cheeks, his eyes grow the size of clementines. He starts hopping up and down like he just swallowed a lit cherry bomb, removes his hand from his mouth, and starts jumping up and down like he’s on an invisible pogo stick.
TAL: THIBS WABZ A MIBSTAAAAAKEEEEEE
The rest of the crowd looks on in stunned silence (except for Bobby Dean, who is obliviously eating his sandwich) as the old luchador runs around the room like his pants and shirt and mouth are all on fire. He trips over a cord and flies headlong into the podium, which falls into Roderick McRatrick, who is trying to root through Karen Puddings’ handbag. McRatrick is flung into the wall, where his errant hand hits and triggers the fire alarm.
Rezin: (jolted from a stupor after forgetting why he was looking under the chairs) FIRE? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
The room is sent into a frenzy, sending everyone scurrying for the exit, except for McRatrick, the old luchador, and of course Bobby Dean, who is still eating his ridiculously long sandwich. The old luchador gets up and goes hurtling towards the exit holding his mouth. However, he trips over Bobby’s sandwich and skids across the carpeted floor with the alarm still going off.
RMR: Aha! This is my chance for the big score.
As the moustachioed villain attempts to pickpocket the old luchador’s wallet from his back pocket, a shadowy, ominous presence towers over him.
RMR: Uh oh.
The mysterious hulking figure, whose face cannot be seen, grabs McRatrick by the throat and throws him with great force into the field of chairs before grabbing the old luchador by the scruff of his neck and dragging him off.