Sometimes, what happened in our living room, would leave the living room, or just sprint out of it in shame.
As a spectator, and still a boy of maybe 12, I witnessed something spectacular. It was a wrestling match between by brother of 16 and a formidable opponent: one of his older brothers of roughly 25. The details are a bit sketchy, but the conclusion is definitive. My father was there not to officiate, but to time the massacre.
The wrestlers were two of my six older brothers. Although siblings, they maintained different styles of athleticism. The elder, Aaron, was an excellent high school baseball player, which was the only sport he participated in while in high school. His love and talent for the game was natural, however, it couldn’t match his lackluster attitude, which we decided he did only to drive our father crazy. He could have been a terrific football player…..no, too much “rah rah!” B.S. Wasn’t his style. He would have been an excellent basketball player……nah, too much work. While he seldom wrestled, when he did, Aaron seemed to allow his opponent to gain a quick and large lead, before pinning his opponent with ease. This drove his coaches and my father nuts. It seemed deliberate. Perhaps it was his interesting sense of humor, which remains to this day, or perhaps he just didn’t give a damn. Aaron’s ability and his elite speed was no match for his disinterest, or what he would maintain as arrogance.
Tom, his living room opponent, was a little different. Great attitude, and impeccable work ethic. Having superior athleticism, Tom acquired All-State awards in both football and wrestling, and would eventually earn him the school’s best athlete award, not to mention a college football scholarship. When he was 16, he was a man.
Verbally sparring in the living room, Tom and Aaron were not interested in the riveting golf game our father was trying to watch. They were arguing about who was the best wrestler. Dad told them to take it out on the lawn. Evidently they agreed that someone must be there to officiate. Now, there was no way in Hell the old man was going to get out of his comfort zone, walk outside and officiate this mess. So, Aaron proposed a solution. Aaron bet Tom he could take him down ten times in thirty seconds. In order to speed things up, Dad agreed to be the timer. He even chuckled at the thought of what may happen, knowing Tom was a little too big for his Buster Browns. I stared at Tom, knowing he had never been beaten. If I had any cash, I may have even put that cash on Tom.
They both positioned themselves, Tom with a look of determination, and Aaron smirking. Dad, waiting for this pissing contest to be over, quickly said, “Ok, lets get this started. Ready…..Go.” By the time I could get nervous for Tom, Aaron had taken him down eight times in less than twenty seconds leaving only ten more seconds for him to survive. While Tom seemed a little tired, the only breathing Aaron was doing was out of laughter. Tom had met his match, and he knew it. Tom then took the matter into his own hands, literally, when they entered the center of the living room for the last ten seconds. With abject surprise, Dad and I watched as Tom punched Aaron in his stomach, or I think it was his stomach. Aaron dropped to the floor like a sack of potatoes with the wind knocked completely out of him. Knowing it was an illegal wrestling move, and fearing reprisal, Tom quickly fled the scene of the bet. It was over, just like that.
While the old man and I sat laughing at Aaron wheezing on the floor, Tom was no where to be found. While still wheezing, Aaron chuckled at Tom’s keen sense of how to conclude a battle less than royal. After catching his breath, Aaron asked, “Where’s Tom?” Dad merely stated, “Probably close to the Idaho Border by now.” (That’s a half hour away from our house….driving.)
Although Tom was disqualified, upon his return he seemed a little satisfied. Not as satisfied as Dad who was back to watching a golf game with softly spoken commentators. This was a well deserved nap for the old man.