Me and Tonya Harding

No, I’ve never met Tonya Harding. Nor have I seen Tonya Harding in real life. So why even mention her?

Well tonight if I’m not dead tired after a day of mixing at the studio, I’m going to rent I, Tonya, that movie on her.

I was a huge Tonya Harding fan before the incident. I saw part of myself in her. She was that white trash kid that lacked the grace that the other skater girls had. But physically, she was way better. She could do a triple axel. No other girl in the world could do it at that time.

I haven’t followed skating in awhile. If I’m not mistaken, there are still under ten girls in the world who have pulled it off.

So white trash, insanely driven, lacks grace but makes up for it with physical boldness. Yes, we have a lot in common. Yeah, I’m not white, but I’m talking more mindset than skin color. Skin color never mattered to me.

Anyways, I’ll see that Tonya Harding movie tonight

Yeah, I’ll see the movie tonight if I’m not too tired.

tonya harding

It was the early 90s. As you may know, Metal was already dying in the United States. Nobody was signing Metal bands. So I got to play shows with various bands for our girlfriends and best friends and the other band’s girlfriends and best friends. In other words, we lost money every time we played anywhere.

I started to view myself as a failure and started living vicariously through other people. Mostly Brett Favre, but also some other athletes. Tonya Harding was one of them. I was really hoping she’d get the gold medal, despite her complete lack of grace on the rink. Plus, I know she liked Metal music too so that’s another huge plus with her.

We had a lot in common. Or so I thought, since I was not in the right mindset and wishing other people would kick ass since I was so down in the dumps at the time.

She dropped out of high school. I wanted to drop out as well, but never did. I didn’t hate high school. Rather, I was bored out of my mind and because of that, my grades sucked. No, no college scholarship for me. I wasn’t one of those kids that would go on to have successful corporate careers. I just wanted someone to sign my band. Anyone.

I remember the big players like it was yesterday

Nancy Kerrigan, Tonya Harding, Kristy Yamaguchi, Katarina Witt, Oksani Baiul. I guess I should have really been rooting for Yamaguchi because she skated in the San Francisco Bay Area. But no, I choose to root for Harding because I saw myself in her.

Harding landed impossible jumps. Kerrigan had way more grace and that smile that the judges loved. Yamaguchi was a combination of both and had the awesome backstory (her mother was born in an internment camp, tragic like Mr. Miyagi, a pop culture icon from the time period).

Baiul ended up winning the fucking thing and we didn’t like her because she kept crying. She’d cry her eyes out afterwards. Yeah, she had the wonderful backstory as well. They never mentioned Harding’s backstory because nobody wanted to hear about a white trash family back then. Nobody liked to hear that. See, yet another thing we had in common.

Well, I’m not going to get into how much Harding knew about “the incident” and how responsible I thought she was. Of course I was offended by the whole thing. I may have seen myself as a failure, but it’s not like I’d hire someone to take out the knee of a successful rival band’s singer.

But then again, how much (if any) did she know? This is the problem with marrying a dumb ass.

She lost us all after that. When I’m talking about us all, the band I was with at the time would watch figure skating together. Why? Because we weren’t touring the country because nobody wanted to sign us.

We’d play a lot of local shows to like I said – our best friends and our girlfriends and the other band’s best friends and girlfriends. It became the same people in the audience every time we played and every time we played, we’d actually lose money.

It’s Over

So one by one, a band member would give up and decide to go to college instead. I was the absolute last remaining person in that one band.

I gave it one last shot in 1994 and that band literally ended with us getting into an argument on stage in the middle of a set. We broke up the next day. And at the time, Tonya Harding was already a persona non grata and she ended up doing professional wrestling. Better still, stills from a sex tape got released in Penthouse.

While her whole life took a huge nosedive, I made some financial blunders and ended up spending part of it living in a car and taking showers at friends’ houses before going to work. Yeah, I still had a job, but I had forgotten about Tonya Harding.

I was now living vicariously through Brett Favre and hoping 1995 would be the year he helped win the Packers a Super Bowl. They had both Brett Favre and Reggie White on the same team. They had some other pretty good players as well.

By then, I had sold all my musical instruments. My music career was over. I threw in the towel and worked on low budget movies. No, you never heard of any of them because they all ran out of funding. We completed none of them.

America is a weird place

I never got into the Tonya bashing that a lot of other people got into. Americans love to both love and hate celebrities. We have our celebrities we love. And we have our celebrities that we hate.

Harding of course was in the latter group. People hated her and celebrated her nosedive. When her boxing career went to shit, people celebrated when she lost her last fight. I wasn’t following her because by then, I had a family and a pretty successful corporate career.

In the back of my mind though, I was hoping she’d find something she was good at and kick ass at it. Well, besides skating because she was banned from it.

Then in 2017, something really weird happened. Margot Robbie, probably my favorite young actress, played her in a movie and the movie ended up winning some Academy Awards. Even more weird still, the movie was actually sympathetic to her.

So tonight, hopefully I’m not too tired. I want to rent it. If so, I’ll do a write up on it.


Roman is an artist, composer, writer, and travel junkie.

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