My dad was really into wrestling as a kid. He told me stories about how my grandfather would move all the furniture to the corner of their tiny living room and conduct wrestling matches between him and his brother. And my dad loved professional wrestling on television, rising early every Saturday morning to watch the matches of Gorgeous George, the "Toast of the Coast," the "Sensation of the Nation," and the "Human Orchid": a pampered frock-wearing dandy wrestler who sprayed the crowd with “Chanel No. 10” lest their common stink offend his nostrils. He told me about Gene Stanlee. Karl Von Hess. Nature Boy Buddy Rogers. Crusher Lisowski. Maurice Maddog Vachon. Buzz Sawyer. Buddy Rogers. Chief Big Heart. The Fabulous Kangaroos. He told me the stories of their famous matches like myths, full of bloodlust and betrayal. The National Wrestling Alliance was his epic. Killer Kowalski his Achilles. Haystacks Calhoun his Hector.

Naturally, like every red-blooded American boy, I eventually discovered pro wrestling myself at the age where the haze of kayfabe still allows a kid to view pro wrestling as a morality play where good triumphs over evil in the end. The spectacle of excess. The grandiloquent truth of gestures. Kayfabe is an old carnival term, referring to the way carnies never publicly reveal the games are rigged. No wrestler ever publicly goes out of character. No wrestler ever admits the matches are scripted and fixed, the moves choreographed. No wrestler ever admits wrestling is fake. In 1987, when the Iron Sheik was arrested for marijuana and cocaine possession in New Jersey after being pulled over while riding in a car with fellow wrestler Hacksaw Jim Duggan, wrestling fans weren't shocked because of the drugs. They were shocked because the Iron Sheik and Hacksaw Jim Duggan were supposed to be mortal enemies. The Sheik was a character designed to play on the public's fear of militant Islam; his favorite phrase was "USA, hack-ptooey." And Duggan represented the most American of American wrestlers, always entering the ring draped in the American flag. It shook the wrestling world.

I was a fan during what I believe was the golden age of the WWF, before Vince McMahon turned it into the hip-hop infused sex opera that is its current incarnation. Those were the days of Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat. The Junkyard Dog. Rowdy Roddy Piper. Ravishing Rick Rude. George “The Animal” Steele was still wrestling, a grizzled old holdover from my father's days, a man who was so crazy he'd rip apart the turnbuckles and chew the stuffing after he won a match. I loved these guys, and watched their matches every week with my dad. I thought it was all so cool. One year for Christmas, I bought my father rubber toy figures of the "Dream Team" with my own money. This was a tag team consisting of Brutus "the Barber" Beefcake and Greg "the Hammer" Valentine. The latter was the son of one of my father's favorite wrestlers and the undisputed master of the "figure four leg lock," a devastating finishing move that caused his opponents so much pain they begged for mercy.

Brutus the Barber was my chosen favorite. He was the master of the "sleeper hold" -- a move that caused his opponents to fall asleep -- and followed it by cutting the guy's hair off with giant gardening shears. I tried the sleeper hold a thousand times on my Hungarian neighbor, but it never worked. Brutus wore a little chippendales bow-tie and had a fabulous mullet. His partner, Valentine, just wore speedo-like black shorts. At the time I had no idea how gay pro wrestling was.

A few days after Christmas in 1985, my parents found me crying in a corner of the basement. "What's wrong, seven-year-old Dutch?" they asked me.

"Dad didn't do anything with the wrestlers I bought him," I said. "He just threw them in the drawer."

I think it was then that my parents realized (1) that I was a sensitive little pussy; and (2) you have to pretend to treasure all the shitty gifts your children buy you well after Christmas, no matter how shitty those gifts may be. My dad displayed the toys I bought him in a glass case, next to some of his antique car stuff. It made me so proud.

When Sweet Juniper started appearing on people's blog rolls, we were usually listed under "daddy blogs", probably because I am the more verbose member of our household (and in some respects because the daddy blogging community is smaller and more inclusive). Because we were on so many "daddy" blogrolls, some of our readers even thought we were two gay dads. We quickly realized that people had a hard time categorizing us, because there just weren't a lot people writing a parenting blog together from two different perspectives. When the BoB nominations started coming, we were nominated in both the mommy and daddy blog categories, but we really didn't fit into either, and our nominators expressed their doubt. But we're no longer among the only ones doing this. There are a number of other parent blogs where the blogging responsibilities are shared between the parents, including miles, etc., mother-woman, charlie and nina, homeonthefringe, and others (if I've missed you, shoot me an e-mail and I'll add you to this list).

I recently noticed that under cynical dad's blog taxonomy, we are not under "moms" or "dads" but "tag teams." I love it. That is the best way to describe what we do here. Tag team matches are among the most exciting in pro wrestling. According to the rules, only one wrestler per tag team is allowed in the ring at a time, and the only way that a wrestler can change places with a partner is for the competitor in the ring to "tag" him or touch him on some part of his body. The referee must also see a tag for it to be legal. Offensive cooperation from a team member can happen as long as they are within the referee's count of five and after an official tag. This means wrestlers can do all kinds of sweet moves together that they can't do alone. One wrestler can hold an opponent up in the air and the other can jump off the top turnbuckle for a crushing blow. Both wrestlers can french whip their opponent into the ropes and do a double-team clothesline or flying drop kick. Awesome.

Therefore, here at Sweet Juniper we'd like to take just a moment to honor 1980s WWF's top six greatest tag teams:

The Twin Towers: Hakeem "the African Dream" and the "Big Boss Man"

Oh the 1980s: Before that blind Egyptian Sheik with crazy glossy eyeballs tried to blow up the WTC, before two planes eventually brought both those towers down. Only then could you have gotten away with pairing up a militant Islamic north African named "Hakeem" and a redneck corrections officer from Cobb County Georgia as the tough-as-nails tag team called the "Twin Towers." America truly did lose its innocence on September 11, 2001, in part because it meant it would never again be believable that these two stereotypes could ever possibly get along.

The Rockers: Shawn Michaels & Marty Jannetty

Okay, I remember thinking these were like the two coolest guys on earth. They were cool like Poison or Warrant, only they were also wrestlers. Not only did they have tastefully ripped t-shirts and rock-n-roll mullets, they had this move where they would both headbutt their opponent at the same time called the double flying headbutt. They were agile and ripped and they once even beat the tag team champions Bret "the Hitman" Harte and Jim "the Anvil" Niedhart (though they lost the belt on a technicality).

But looking back on it, God they were so gay.

The Killer Bees: Jumpin Jim Brunzell and B. Brian Blair

I really liked these guys too. I liked the music they played when they came down to the ring. I liked their black-and-yellow striped underwear. I liked how they would hide matching masks in those underwear, pull them out and put them on, making it so opponents and the referee wouldn't know who was who. That allowed them to switch in and out of the ring without making tags. They were really good at performing flying drop kicks, and when you're an eight-year-old boy the only thing in the world you want to be able to do is perform a flying drop kick. Their finishing move was kind of gay, though. The "bee sting" involved knocking their butts against an opponents head, I think.

The Foreign Legion: The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff

Looking back it's so crazy to remember how our cold war anxieties were played out on the squared circle. Both the Sheik and Volkoff had been actual wrestlers and weightlifters in their native lands before joining the WWF and becoming Islamic and Soviet heels, respectively. Volkoff used to demand that the audience rise for the singing of the Soviet national anthem and only get a chorus of boos. After the Sheik was convicted of cocaine possession, Volkoff joined with Boris Zukoff to form the all-Soviet "Bolsheviks" tag team, but it was his years with the Sheik that that formed one of greatest tag team combinations of all time. The Sheik's signature "camel clutch" move was applied to me many times by schoolyard bullies. Hurts like a bitch, too.

Rhythm & Blues: Honky Tonk Man and Greg "the Hammer" Valentine

I honestly don't remember any of their matches, but how can you possibly go wrong with two wrestling Elvis impersonators, one of whom apparently doesn't like to wear pants. What did he have against pants. Seriously, why did Greg Valentine love those little black wrestling undies so much? I'll bet he slept in them. Honky Tonk Man used to sing his own theme song and his signature move was the "Shake Rattle and Roll."

I really don't want to know what's behind that guitar.

The Mega Powers: Hulk Hogan and Randy "Macho Man" Savage

Hulk Hogan AND Randy Savage wearing alternating red and yellow outfits? Come on! That's even better than when Hogan fought with Mr. T as his tag-team partner at Wrestlemania I. It was so awesome and had so much potential, until it imploded from within when Savage became convinced that Hogan wanted to tag the Lovely Elizabeth, Macho Man's girl. I remember like it was yesterday: Royal Rumble, 1989. Hakeem of the Twin Towers tosses Macho Man right onto the Lovely Elizabeth, rendering her unconscious. Hogan, instead of assisting his teammate, carried Elizabeth back to the locker room, leaving Macho Man to fend for himself against the Twin Towers. He eventually returned to the ring for a tag, but Macho Man beat him down with his Championship Belt. They fought later that year at Wrestlemania, where Hogan won the championship. Still, these two had enough explosive power and charisma between the two of them it's hard to imagine what the two of them could have accomplished if they'd stayed together. Imagine how awesome the slim jim commercials would have been.


I know I've left off some great tag teams. Ricky Steamboat and Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka; Demolition; Strike Force; Big John Studd and King Kong Bundy; The British Bulldogs; Los Conquistadors; The Islanders; The Rougeau Brothers; The Bushwackers. So many great teams.

One of the greatest parts of watching tag team wrestling matches is the glut of personality and the increased sense of drama you get from all those wrestlers in the ring. There is always more action, more sneakiness, and all those tricks the grappler behind the ropes can pull when the referee is distracted: chairs knocked over opponents' heads, sucker punches to the back. And then there is the drama and tension when the wrestler in the ring just can't reach his partner's hand to tag when he's in a punishing leg lock. He reaches out his hand, stretching out his fingers, and his partner reaches out over the ropes, his muscles at their full length and looks of desperation on both their faces. And when they finally make the tag, a fresh body enters the ring and the dynamic of the whole match changes.

Here at Sweet Juniper, we know you're used to solo blogging, but we hope by tag teaming we can bring a little more drama and shift the dynamic of what you're used to just enough to keep you interested. You, for example, may have no interest in the minutia of pro wrestlers from the late 1980s. Good thing my wife will come along eventually to deliver another photo of her hot ass coupled with some cute anectdote about Juniper. Not every parent has a partner they can reach to when the wear and tear of the match is getting to them and they just need some relief. If you're lucky, there's someone like that there for you, someone whose hand is held out whenever you need it, and when you reach for it that person steps in with freshness and vigor and let's you stop for a second, slip silently onto the couch and close your eyes and escape for just as long as you can before you're needed again.