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  April 28, 2001



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Rasslin' with leotard terror


By BRET HART -- Calgary Sun
 When I was a kid, I had this aversion to women's underwear.

 That's probably more than you want to know about me, but it bears mentioning because I want to tell you about the time I was almost an elf.

 A green elf, to be more specific. Or are all elves green?

 It all started when Miss Micheluck, my Grade 2 teacher, sent the class home with instructions to buy green leotards. Now wait a minute, I thought. She doesn't actually expect us to wear girl's green leotards, does she?

 Yes, she did. Because we were all going to be elves in the Christmas concert.

 Well, maybe everyone else was going to be an elf, but not me.

 No sirree.

 Even the thought of merely touching leotards gave me the heebie jeebies.

 Who knows why?

 I think the stretchy fabric with those little linty balls maybe reminded me of the little old lady wearing falling-down nylons at the wrestling matches who pinch kid's cheeks too hard.

 Wherever it came from, my aversion to this stuff was so bad that when I had to rummage through the dryer at Hart House to untangle my clothes out of the jumble, my sisters' leotards would be extracted with the longest stick I could find. The site of bras and nylons was enough to make me want to scurry up the driveway like I'd seen boogers.

 I confess, by puberty I began to see these things differently. But back in Grade 2, even if I did think Miss Micheluck was a hot-looking babe right out of 007 movies, I wasn't going to wear girl's green leotards for her -- or anybody else.

 I stalled Miss M all week, "oh ... err ... we can't find a green leotard ... erm ... my sister borrowed it .. my dad loaned it to one of the midget wrestlers ... until time got down to the wire. On Friday, in a stern tone I'd never thought she was capable of, teacher told me, "you bring in leotards on Monday or don't bother coming back."

 Well, there's an option, don't come back?

 I considered running away from home.

 Monday morning, I feigned illness, selling everything from a stomachache to seeing aliens land in the backyard -- but in Hart House, you didn't miss school for a silly reason like being sick. I stalled so long that, much to my relief, I missed the school bus, only to find myself being escorted to school by my dad, who now had to drive me and wanted to know what the heck was the matter with me.

 Stu was more intimidating than any teacher and he could see that something was really bugging me. Finally, he demanded to know what my damn problem was. As we pulled up to Wildwood school, I broke down and tearfully explained, "I don't want to wear some dumb girl's leotards!"

 Stu had a strange look on his face when he said, "What? Say that again?" He grabbed me by the wrist and led me right to Miss Micheluck's room. Now I've done it, I thought. Boy was I surprised when my dad told her, in no uncertain terms, "Bret is not going to wear leotards."

 She was surprised at his resolute tone and gently offered, "Oh, but he will feel bad if he isn't with all the other kids in the Christmas concert."

 Stu calmly, but firmly repeated, "If he doesn't wanna wear girl's leotards, he's not wearin' leotards."

 I guess she thought that after a few days of sitting on the sidelines, watching my friends in music class, that I'd feel left out.

 I did. Whew.

 And thank goodness I got out of that, I thought.

 Plus I got the biggest kick out of seeing my best friend Wilk prancing around in his green leotards.

 He kept on shaking his head, saying, "How the heck did Bret get away with this?"

 Who would have thought that I'd end up making a lucrative living pulling on a pair of pink leotards every night! Go figure.

 As for my dad, I just want to wish him a very happy and healthy 86th birthday this Thursday and thank him for all the times he was there for me.

 He's always been there when it counted most.

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