In Real Life: Lesson Four

In Real Life: Lesson Four

Ahh hello, all my fans, and big smiles all around I see! I am so thrilled to be back with all of you. You'll have to excuse my tardiness, but with an extensive tour of Europe and masterminding the alliance of one of the largest unions since the Zambuie Express (Anyone remember them? Who were they? E-mail me.). Your friend, Matt Striker, has been a busy beaver. Little Beaver? Yes, please.

Anyway, moving on, I have received upwards of 1,200 e-mails in the past few weeks, and although I cannot get to them all in the column, I have chosen a few for your digestion. So, let us commence, shall we?

"Matthew" writes:

People in school have been telling me that a girl likes me. I like her, too, but the people who are telling me this have made up stuff before. What should I do?

Well, first and foremost, it is obvious she likes you because of your name. All men named Matthew are a favorite of the ladies. All kidding aside; YOU CAN NEVER BELIEVE WHAT OTHER PEOPLE SAY, NO MATTER HOW CLOSE TO YOU THEY ARE! If you ever want to know the truth, go to the source. That way, there is no confusion. Engage this girl in a friendly chat, even a "Hey, how are you?" may be sufficient to be able to tell if she is interested in you as more than a friend.

Don't take what other people say as gospel. People have their own agenda and usually it is self-serving. IF YOU HEAR RUMORS ABOUT SOMEONE, DON'T BELIEVE THEM. IT IS SMARTER TO FIND OUT FOR YOURSELF!

Here's an interesting and controversial one from "Rick":

You're a very talented wrestler. What is your view on relationships and how do you keep yours when you travel so much in the wrestling business? How about homosexuality? Do you have a broad enough mind to accept this concept of people's lives? Thanks for your time.

Rick, I have to admit that at first I wasn't going to address this question. But after further review, I feel it is a great question, and in 2007, going on 2008, it is an issue that needs to be discussed. My awesome entertainment and wrestling abilities have no bearing on this answer.

As far as relationships go, I have several people in my life who I MAKE time for. Whether it be a friend who visits in the evening to just watch a movie on the couch or sleep over or another friend who I see for dinner or a movie.

I MAKE time for the people in my life who I choose to spend my romantic time with.  My time is precious -- as is everyone's -- but when you travel close to five days each week, the days you have at home are special and need to be used carefully. I have to balance errands, family and romance, and it is not easy, but if you want to make things work, you will find a way.

On to the next part of your question; homosexuality is a part of society the same way as the weather is. Anyone who denies its existence or refuses to accept it is ignorant. I believe in treating others the way you would like to be treated. These days, if someone lives an alternative lifestyle, it is the same as having blond hair as opposed to brown. It adds to the diversity of the world in which we live.

I believe that love -- regardless of who it is between -- is a beautiful thing. If two people genuinely wish the best for one another and are willing to compromise and make sacrifices to share their lives together, so be it.

With that said, I am opposed to the people who go out of their way to flaunt their sexuality whether homo or hetero. These days it seems trendy to be "different." People are going for the shock value of sexuality or piercings or tattoos when, in actuality, they  are conforming to the increasing norm, solidifying their lack of individuality.

I am sure we have all seen the two girls who feel the need to dance provocatively  together so that attention will be drawn to them. This screams insecurity, not individuality. Look at MTV or the Hollywood scene and tell me how many of these "performers" are true to themselves as opposed to the trend. Look at your own neighborhood. I defy you to find an individual.

Regardless of your sexuality, musical preference or even favorite flavor of ice cream, if it is YOURS, then you shouldn't feel the need to have it validated by others. People who seek this are shallow.

Society is becoming increasingly tolerant of what we call "alternative lifestyles." I only hope the people who engage in these lifestyles can accept themselves for who they are. We are all humans with feelings and we only wish to be loved.

Morrissey once sang in a song called "Son and Heir" the following: "I am human and I need to be loved, just like everybody else does."

I feel this applies to your answer.

Homosexuality is real, and again, it is not a negative. Love is beautiful no matter who it is between.

Whew! OK, now onto a lighter note, "Amber" inquires:

I have read your past columns and notice you quote a song at the end of each one. What are some of your favorite bands and musicians? Thanks so much for reading.

OK, Amber. Awesome question. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a musically ensconced young man. I have been playing guitar and writing songs since I was 15. I recently began playing the drums in the last year as well.

I have been exposed to music as early as I can remember. My grandfather was the manager for a great performer of yesteryear named Perry Como (ask your parents or grandparents about Perry). Music has been in my home forever. As a boy growing up in "parts unknown," my father would play Motown throughout the house. There is nothing that stirs the soul quite like the Motor City sound.

I also have three older sisters and two older aunts who played tons of music in the house as I grew up. I was exposed to Peter Frampton, The Commodores, The Four Tops, The Spinners, The Temptations, The Beatles, Chicago, Led Zeppelin, Ambrosia, Simon & Garfunkel, Loggins & Messina, Cream, Ella Fitzgerald, Genesis, Donna Summer, Stevie Wonder, Pat Benatar, Traffic, Billy Joel and countless others.

It was my sister, Kori, who turned me onto my all-time favorite band to this day: RUSH!

When I was 8-years-old, I discovered a record called Farewell to Kings -- pretty advanced for an 8-year-old, whereas nowadays kids are into talentless hacks such as Nellie Furtado and Panic at the Disco ... ugh.

My musical tastes range from underground hip-hop -- true rap such as Atmosphere and Brother Ali -- to old school rap (when it was good) like PE, EPMD, L.O.N.S., Tribe, Main Source, Redman, Nice-n-Smooth, 3rd Bass and Big Daddy Kane (where do you think I got Big Daddy V's name from?), among others.

Today, artists such as Jay-Z are very talented, but there isn't a lot going on in hip-hop, in my opinion. There are a few one-hit wonders or performers who put out carbon copies of their last song. Nothing original. Although "Em" has been quiet for some time now, and he is unique.

Moving on, I LOVE country music. I know it sounds strange being a New Yorker, but old country just hits my heart and my foot. David Allan Coe and Waylon Jennings are two of my all time favorites as are Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard.

As opposed to modern day hip-hop, there is some new country that is great as well. Guys like Darryl Worley, Toby Keith and Nickel Creek really tow the line set forth by the greats like George Jones and Charley Pride.

In the same vein, I dig southern rock. Lynyrd Skynyrd is just amazing, Stevie Ray Vaughn is a guitar god, .38 Special and the Van Zandt boys are always good, as are Mountain and countless others.

Speaking of guitar gods, I cannot go any further without discussing my affinity for Edward Van Halen. As a 15-year-old kid trying to learn Eddie's stuff on guitar, I became fascinated and frustrated with this man all at once. Van Halen (w/ DLR) defined a time in my life when my best friend, Matt, and I would have memories that will last us a lifetime. Matt may be the best guitar player I know, and that is saying a lot. Even to this day I can be 16, 17 years old again as soon as I put in Fair Warning or Women and Children First (great albums; check 'em out).

Guitar has always been near and dear to my heart. I started on the bass guitar when I was 14 or 15, then moved to the six-string later that year. Guys like Eric Johnson, Joe Satriani, Yngwie Malmsteen, Jimi Hendrix, David Gilmour and Eric Clapton paved a way for me to really learn my "chops."

There are also many guys who don't get recognition but who are amazing: Robbie Krieger from The Doors (who Carlos Santana stole everything he ever does from), Andy Sommers from the Police (who was doing "ska" and reggae long before anyone), and Alex Lifeson from RUSH (who is just amazing) to name a few. There are countless others and I invite you to search.

I went to college so it is obligatory that I listen to and really enjoy The Grateful Dead (did you know Jerry Garcia was missing a finger on his playing hand?!), Phish, Dave Matthews, Jason Mraz, (LOVE) Jack Johnson, Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Squeeze and a zillion others.

Many of the bands that do the WWE entrance themes have some good stuff as well. I will always be a fan and when I'm in the gym and I put on some Finger Eleven or Batista's theme by Saliva or Alter Bridge for Edge's theme or Killswitch Engage for that filthy CM Punk's music, or better than all of that, Motor-f'n-head and bang out "The Game," I am truly inspired.

These days, the only real artists I enjoy are the Foo Fighters and Nickelback. Everyone else seems to have on too much mascara and too little musical talent.

I have such a wide array of tastes from early Smashing Pumpkins (Gish album -- get it) to Live to Guns N' Roses to Morrissey and The Smiths to Sarah McLachlan (LOVE HER) to Toto (yes, Toto -- shut up) to Hall and Oates to Bob Marley to John Coltrane, Roger Waters, there are too many to list. I can write on and on (Stephen Bishop -- and if you get that reference, you totally win) about music, but I must go now and bang on my drums.

Look some or all of these artists up. Broaden your horizons. Write to me and tell me who you like. All we have in our life are our memories and music makes memories.

To all of our fans, I have to tell you that as we approach a season where everyone seems to be a little nicer (even though I am nice all the time), I really enjoy getting your e-mails and communicating with you.

As much as you hate me because I am smarter or better looking than you, I really feel a deep warmth in my heart that I can help you and share my wisdom with all of you. Contact Matt Striker now.

I'm just a singer of simple songs.
I'm not a real political man.
I watch CNN but I'm not sure I can tell you
The difference in Iraq and Iran.
But I know Jesus and I talk to God
And I remember this from when I was young,
Faith, hope and love are some good things He gave us
And the greatest is: love.

                                                   -Alan Jackson

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