By Steve Buffery
Most veteran journalists become jaded and suspicious after a time — even sports writers ... especially sports writers.
Listening to athletes, coaches and general managers feed us mindless drivel, day after day, does wonders for the B.S. meter.
Of course, I happened to be born jaded and suspicious.
To me, everyone is working a scam, some more than others.
My Polish-Canadian buddy Ed Zawadzki, who insists that he can change a light bulb all by himself, says that I remind him of Stewie Griffin from the Family Guy, minus the English accent and superior intellect.
Gushy, friendly people, in particular, I don’t trust.
To me, people who smile and say nice things are after something, and that’s probably why I’ve always had a tough time with relationships.
I remember once, when I was in high school, a friend’s girlfriend tried to set me up with one of her friends.
We were at a bar one night when she showed up with four girls from her neighbourhood.
She was Portuguese, as were her friends, while we were a bunch of dopey WASPs from Etobicoke, except for Fred, who is of, uh, German persuasion.
“Steve,” she said. “This is Marissa, Lina, Alexandra and Pina (or some such names that ended with the letter a).”
Already well into my cups, I lifted my glass and proclaimed: “Let’s hear it for the immigrants.”
Needless to say, I didn’t get any action that night.
But now, I have to re-evaluate my deep-seated sense of mistrust and skepticism, after meeting former WWE diva Trish Stratus last week at her yoga studio, Stratusphere.
Trish is a genuinely nice, decent person, which probably isn’t a newsflash to any of her fans.
From the moment I marched into the studio in my shoes (which horrified her business manager as there were multiple signs that said: ‘Please remove your shoes’), until the time Toronto Sun photographer Mark O’Neill and I left, Trish couldn’t have been more welcoming, outgoing and, even more impressive, witty.
Trish is a riot.
A regular Sarah Silverman, but with a sense of humour.
Once, when O’Neill was lying down on the floor taking pictures of the WWE’s Diva of the Decade, he commented that a lot of men are still a little uncertain about yoga.
Many men, big Mark suggested, associate yoga with hippie types. Right on cue, Trish then tucked her hair under her armpits.
“What are you doing?” I asked, sounding dumber than usual.
“I want to look like one of those hippie girls for Mark,” she said.
You had to be there, but it was really cute. (And, yes, Trish turned me into a pathetic sap, if for a fleeting moment).
And it wasn’t just ‘kissing up to the media to get a good story’ friendly.
While Mark and I were there doing our thing, Trish invited this dude who was hanging around in front of her studio, inside.
Turns out he was a fan from France who was hoping to take pictures of her and her studio for some virtual thingamajig he was planning.
Trish gave the guy the grand tour and even talked him into taking a class. ... all the while I stood there thinking “this dude is up to something.”
See, that’s the difference, Trish is a real human being, with real thoughts and emotions while I’ve often been called thoughtless and emotionless and a real ... yeah, well, you know.
Trish explained to me how she got into the yoga business.
“I was wrestling, being thrown around the ring quite frequently, about four times a week, every single week with no off-season for several years,” she said.
“So I was in the middle of my career, doing well, everything was going great, and I had this nagging back pain, I was getting headaches a lot and the doctor said you’re going to have degenerative disc damage — which is quite common, because of what I do.
“He said one of these days it might catch up with you. And sure enough, one day I took a big spill out of the ring ... and after that it got to the point where I couldn’t sit for more than 30 minutes at a time,” the Richmond Hill native added.
The doctors gave Trish two options — surgery or rehab. She didn’t want to go under the knife, so decided to go the physiotherapy/rehab route and took a leave of absence from the WWE.
“We wrote myself off the story line — the (wrestling) soap opera came to a conclusion for a moment,” she said.
“I got squished by my giant adversary, he was 400 pounds, and he jumped on me and splashed me. So the fans were devastated and I was taken out on the stretcher. So that’s how I got to go home and start my rehabilitation.”
“So did he really squish you?” I asked.
“Maaaaaaybe,” Trish replied, with a laugh.
The rehab wasn’t going great and with the WWE calling and asking her when she could return, Trish talked to a fellow Diva, Lita, who suggested she try yoga.
“(Lita) had broken her neck at one point and said that the only thing that helped her move again was hot yoga,” said Trish.
So she checked out a local studio.
“Instantly I felt a difference,” she said.
“The heat allowed my muscles to move more freely and there was a little relief from the pain.”
Before long, she abandoned the physio.
“I got up every single day for two and a half months straight and went to hot yoga, a 90-minute class. And every single day I felt better and better, and completely rehabilitated my back,” she said.
By the time Trish returned to the WWE, she was feeling better both physically and mentally, and became hooked on yoga, to the point that the first order of business after touching down anywhere in the world was to find a studio.
But after a while, the constant travel and being away from her family took a toll and, in 2006, Trish decided to retire from wrestling, at least as a full-time concern. A year later, she decided to open her own studio in The Village at Vaughan Mills.
“I can’t even tell you how busy I am,” she said. “It’s ridiculous. I don’t sleep much. But it’s all good.”
Trish said she’s in better shape now than ever before, more lean, but just as strong. And clearly she still has her legion of fans, admitting that, yes, her name certainly helped get the business off the ground.
“People do come in sometimes to take a look at me. But I’m not an animal in a zoo, damn it! ... OK, I am,” she said, with a laugh.
Trish showed me a number of yoga positions, all of which I butchered, probably because I have the balance of a three-legged goat.
So she suggested that I come back for a real class.
“Come back on Monday,” she said. “What time is good for you?”
“I’m flexible,” I replied.
“No you’re not,” she said.
Anyway, I did attend a class, with the delightful Sandra McHugh putting us through our paces, and I really have to say ... that I’m in pathetic shape.
But the session was outstanding, and I plan to make yoga a regular part of my exciting and glamorous life.