My Dinner with Andre

The greatest athletes stand alone. Magic Johnson, Mike Tyson, Wayne Gretzky, Michael Jordan, Orel Hershiser, Larry Bird. Each of these men is an artist whose canvas is sport. They transcend their respective games and loom above them like colossi. (Author's note to dumb people: Colossi is the plural of colossus, which means 1) a gigantic statue or 2) anything huge or important. Comprende? Good. Now try to use the word in one of your own pathetic sentences.)

There is one man who towers above his fellow sportsmen both literally and figuratively. He is the penultimate athlete--the perfect fusion of mind and body. A wild beast with the soul of a poet. He is the one, the only, Andre the Giant.

Any lesser man would tremble at the thought of squaring off against the extremely dangerous Jake "the Snake" Roberts next Saturday, but not so Andre. The man doesn't know the meaning of the word "fear" but amazingly enough does know both accepted standard definitions of the word "colossi." He makes his living hurling his mammoth carcass about a wrestling ring, but among the world's intellectuals he is known and revered as possibly the greatest thinker of the twentieth century. When the opportunity arose to dine with this Renaissance man and hear his thoughts about love, life and God, I jumped faster than a neurotic grasshopper. This then is a true account of my dinner with Andre the Giant.

Andre is French and undoubtedly the biggest Frenchman who has ever lived. So one can well imagine how I roared with laughter when we discussed possible sites for our meal and he suggested "a little French place I know." Here I had expected him to decide on a huge French place! With Andre one begins to expect the unexpected. He's a delight, he's a dilemma.

Although Andre and I have been corresponding for some time, the dinner was our very first face-to-face meeting. Andre became acquainted with my work some time ago through my many articles for the French comedy publication Le Gag. He began writing me incredibly insightful letters comparing the life cycle of the sockeye salmon with that of Jerry Lewis. While the rest of his points were well taken, I did disagree with his theory that Jerry lays his eggs in a gravel nest.

I, of course, was more than familiar with Andre's career. Had I not seen him destroy Zabio the Beatnik, Bobo Brazil, Baron Gatoni and the Gallagher Brothers (Mike and Doc) in the course of a single evening's work? I found the man enchanting. A mutual admiration society was formed.

Alas, our paths never seemed to cross. Whenever I found myself in Paris, Andre would be abroad vanquishing Haystacks Calhoun, successfully eluding the dreaded Camel Clutch hold of the Sheik or single-handedly taking on the Keomokas (Sato and Duke). When Andre journeyed to American shores, I was always off pursuing my own favorite sport--cross-country pouting. Only a constant stream of letters kept our relationship alive.

When Andre wrote that he would be facing Jake "the Snake" and that announcement was confirmed by a late-night call to me from Bobby "the Brain" Heenan and then seconded by Jesse "the Body" Ventura, it was clear that destiny was soon to unite me with this overgrown lummox.

There were so many things I wanted to ask Andre, so many topics to explore. Did he truly believe that Shakespeare had written all the work attributed to him or did he believe, like my friend Bryan Gordon, that all of his major plays were written by the Bard in conjunction with his partner, a Jewish comedy writer named Sy Rubin? Was he appalled at Libya's construction of a chemical-weapons plant or did he think Gaddafi was telling the truth when he claimed the factory only produced Boxcar Willie cassettes?

I was sure all these questions and more would soon be answered, for there before me in the flesh was Andre himself. Greeting me in the French manner, he kissed me on both cheeks and then instinctually hit me with a forearm smash followed rapidly by a step-over toehold into an airplane spin culminating in a back-breaker and the inevitable pin. All this horseplay really made us work up an appetite.

Andre indicated that he wished to order for both of us. Since he obviously knew the restaurant's specialties, I acquiesced gladly.

In a trice a steaming team of live oxen was delivered to our table and Andre proceeded to tear them apart with his bare hands. As at any fine chophouse, the oxen dinner included baked potato.

We made unlikely dinner companions. What could America's most beloved humorist possibly have in common with the conqueror of Ravishing Rick Rude, King Kong Bundy, Brutus "the Barber" Beefcake, and Greg "the Hammer" Valentine? I am infinitely sad to report the answer is very little.

The sorry truth is that Andre is nothing more than a pseudointellectual. His interpretation of the Soviet-Afghani hostilities is laughable. His thoughts on the fate of the Amazon rain forest are simplistic and naive. He has absolutely no grasp of the Japanese work ethic. Astoundingly enough, he has yet to even formulate a position on Mexico's staggering national debt. In short, the man is like his sport--a complete fake!

On the other hand, he did pick up the check. Not surprisingly, the big oaf ate it.