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  August 12, 2000



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Kids make Hitman's day


By BRET "The Hitman" HART -- Calgary Sun

 The normal state of my life and my office is organized chaos.

 Except for Fridays. Then it's worse. Every Friday, I find myself with the clock ticking down towards the deadline for this column and I could be anywhere in the world, in all different time zones, rushing from somewhere to someplace else.

 People ask me all the time how I come up with new topics every week -- ranging from amateur wrestling to bungee jumping and Howard Stern to Wayne Gretzky. The truth is, come Thursday, I usually have no idea what I want to write about, so I start thinking. Thinking about what my week has been like -- or what my life has been like. The introspection has become a kind of catharsis.

 Sometimes I just drop everything I'm doing and clear my mind to write to you. But most times, this column becomes a part of my day, integrated between scenes at a TV shoot, or squeezed in during 'unscheduled' breaks at an autograph session. I've written to you from the Taj Mahal, the jungles of South Africa, the streets of Germany and the pubs of England, just to name a few. This week, this roving reporter is coming to you straight from uncharted territory -- my kitchen. The goings-on here are often stranger than my most exotic adventures. I poured my morning coffee and sat down to read the paper.

 We're all gonna miss Lanny McDonald, undoubtedly the greatest Calgary Flame ever and one of hockey's class acts. I will always remember and appreciate how Lanny was one of the first people who called me to express his sympathies after Owen was killed. I know you all join me in wishing Lanny luck.

 I've had a great time sitting in the stands in this beautiful weather cheering the Stampeders on while they kick the crap out of everybody they play. Is it cool that we're hosting the Grey Cup, or what! Besides, I like their new pants -- they remind me of the old Hart Foundation.

 Oh, and that reminds me, for those of you who think you might be seeing the return of Calgary's running of the bulls, I hear it's more likely that the infamous Jim 'The Anvil' Neidhart is back in town.

 You can't miss him -- a bull with a red flat-top, goatee and Ray-Bans -- not exactly your average Joe.

 Tie Domi was in the paper and I laughed to think of when I saw last month. I called Tie to say hello and he invited me to join him, Bryan Berard and a couple of their hockey buddies for a friendly golf game.

  I don't golf. No way. I can throw the ball farther than I hit it. But I figured, what the heck, I'd stop by and hang out for a while. Well, it turned out to be one of the biggest celebrity golf tournaments in Canada.

 Everyone was there from Mike Weir to Doug Gilmour. Yeah, right, Tie, just a few guys playing a friendly game!

 After a banquet, I made my way over to Donovan Bailey and was amused to see him making his way over to me, too.

 I'd never met Donovan before but back in '97, when I was an American basher in a WWF wrestling storyline, I took advantage of it as a great opportunity to say some good and heartfelt things about Canada on international TV. It was in one of those wrestling interviews that I'd said that Americans don't give Donovan Bailey enough respect. Imagine my surprise when Donovan told me he's been waiting a long time to thank me. All we can hope is that he has a speedy recovery from that pulled quad muscle and it would be great to see him with the gold in Australia.

 My son, Blade, 10, shuffled into the kitchen to join me for breakfast. As he poured himself a bowl of cereal, I noticed a story about Joe DiMaggio. I looked up and recalled when Blade and I had been lucky to meet DiMaggio in New York a couple of years ago. The older Blade gets, the more he appreciates that special memory. I told Blade that someone in the paper called Joe, 'A brooding, parsimonious loner who held grudges and a strict adherence to rules.' Without missing a beat, Blade perked, "Sounds just like you, Dad."

 By far the very best thing about my summer has been that I got to spend more time with my kids. We go biking a lot and I really believe that Calgary has some of the best bike paths in North America. The other day, I was biking alone and I rode along the river all the way out past the zoo.

 There, I sat on a bench, contemplating the crossroads of my life. Well, I don't know if this is a crossroads, but it's certainly, at least, a major intersection. I sat thinking about if I'd ever be given medical clearance to wrestle again. I wondered how long it will take before the fans forget me, if they haven't already. Just then, about 40 10-year-olds came 'round the bend on bikes. There I was, in sweaty clothes, seven months gone from the gym, my hair stuffed into the back of my shirt and a baseball cap pulled down over my face. They wouldn't even recognize me -- or so I thought.

 As they peddled by, their heads turned, one by one, as a buzz went through their bike-train. "Is that him?" "Could it be???" And then each one raised a fist in salute as they went by me --sort of like the way a wave travels through the stands. There was a shout, "You're the greatest!" and as they peddled off all their fists were raised as one. And my spirits were raised, too. I want to thank them for making my day and for not forgetting me -- and for giving me a mental snapshot that I will never forget.

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