Everyone Has a Macho Man Randy Savage Impersonation

Brian Oliu



But the key is in the quiet moments—the low register where it seems like an urgent whisper telling you get out or let’s get out of here or you won’t be so lucky next time. And yet so much is made of the shouting, thick with gravel—neck strained to the point where you can see the lines bulge out; each vein a road map: highways, riverbeds, the part where the mountain rises too high to go around.

I am good at impressions. I can capture cadences—I can match pitch for pitch, I can visualize the notes being hit and scoop my voice until I match the color: indigos blending to purple. My grandmother drops all of her Rs. Wonder. Grandmother. Murder. My mother, a softened version—of being a daughter of someone; of being removed from birthplaces and horseraces, of boardwalks, of the ocean. My wife, the swallowed L, the long vowel, the round O. My town, mumbled sweetness—an accent that everyone tries and no one gets right; more Carolina than Alabama. More Virginia. More brisket than pork. Less vinegar. More salt.

My name is my name here, but I say it with a slow slide as if it is a car with no ability to brake—it syrups to a halt when asked for a name for the reservation, something to call out when the table is ready. I keep the end short: -ian into -ine—brine, as if my time here has been put into a mason jar and left on a shelf, submerged in salt and sugar. As if I have been softened; infused with the humidity and whatever gets stuck to the air—smoke, the scent of rubber from the tire plant, burnt pines from a summer storm a few weeks back.

There is a rumor that the man we love to pretend to be strained his vocal chords to the point of tearing—another instance of a body never holding up as it should; that by the end he was all whisper and slur; that he would grab the microphone not to show his dominance, but out of necessity—no one could hold it close enough to pick up the boasts. If you say you’re the cream of the crop but no one hears you, the harvest was scythed for naught—all chaff and no wheat.

But lord, how I loved to be you to the point where I too changed my name when I speak it out loud—I have been speaking in jest. I have lost what it is to say something and mean it. I wear bright colors. I speak your words, but in my voice: to let the world know that I know who you are; that I too stayed up past my bedtime to see if you would do the impossible because I did not know how these worlds worked just yet; that the cards have been set since spring—that you are past the time to rise to the top. I spent my dollar on long strings of meat and tried to snap it between my teeth, even though I wanted something sweeter. I bought sunglasses to hide my eyes despite the world being a blur the second I took off my glasses, but at least I could pretend to see.

And when I picture myself leaving this earth, I imitate you, too. My heart giving out without any notice—my car slowing to a stop only miles from my home. I can never match your pitch, but I can match your cadence—of speeding up and slowing down for emphasis. All impersonations end in silence: we clear our throats, we drink a glass of water, we go back to what we say and how we say it—we talk about our day, of who we saw.

There are days when there is nothing left to say—my wife and I sit in silence as we eat dinner: asparagus, cauliflower, chicken warmed through to the center. There are hours where I do not say anything at all: the sun goes down and my wife is asleep. How so much of our lives are spent in silence—how as a child I thought death meant remaining as still as possible for all of eternity; of not saying a word. Reincarnation doesn’t have to be, but bring me back to something more than a whisper. Let me be reborn in his image: all pomp and tassel. Give me circumstance for once.