The other night Handsome took part in his first Dual Meet for wrestling. There was, of course, a problem. In a Dual Meet, two schools face off and field a team of the best wrestler they have in each weight division. My son wrestles in the 120 lb bracket, but he's nine. He's just big and solid. He wound up being matched against a 13-year old, and this was not the teen-ager's first time on this particular merry-go-round. The Teen was rangy, and closer to my height than Handsome's. They met in the circle, shook hands and squared off. I think it was while they were shaking hands before the bout started that Handsome, neck cranked back to look up at his opponent (who will be shaving in a year or two), realized he was going to have a problem.
Luckily, it was over quickly.
The Teen wrapped him up in about 5 seconds, using moves Handsome had never seen before. He still hasn't seen them, since somewhere during the wrap-up he got the Teen's thumb in his eye.
The speed with which it was over left Handsome embarassed, while the thumb in the eye left him crying in the middle of the mat. I'm pretty sure the crying did not help the embarassment. He was a good sport, shaking hands with his opponent and the visiting coach, and then going to have someone look at his eye. They were worried about a possible scratched cornea, and we put a cold compress on it to keep the swelling down. It was while we were out in the hall putting fresh cold water on the compress when the Teen came out on his way to the bathroom. He stopped to apologize for hurting Handsome and ask if he was alright. Handsome informed him that he was fine but for the thumb in the eye.
"What?" The Teen looked startled.
"Your thumb," answered Handsome, "it went in my eye."
"Oh," said the Teen, surprised. "I didn't know about that. I'm sorry, I didn't mean it."
"Dude," said one of Teen's teammates (three were out in the hall with him) "I think he's a lot younger than you."
"Yeah," I said, "I was going to ask about that. How old are you?"
"Me? Thirteen. Why? He's younger than me, right, like eleven or something?"
It was like my words echoed around the hall as, eyes wide, the Teen and his teammates just stared at Handsome and turned my statement into a question.
"Yeah," I said. "He's just kind of big." Handsome just nodded and held the compress to his eye.
They all went quiet for a moment, then one of them turned to the Teen and pushed his arm to get his attention.
"Dude ... you took on a nine-year-old."
Handsome and I left them then, returning to the gym floor where the wrestling continued. I don't know about Handsome, but my ears remained tuned to the goings on in the hall behind us until they faded in the distance.
There was some serious ribbing going on.
I kept an eye on the Teen whenever I could for the rest of the match, and as far as I could tell from body-language, the ribbing continued for the rest of the night.
Handsome eventually forgot about his eye, joshing and playing with some of his teammates.
Of the two of them, Handsome and the Teen, I'm not sure who actually took the worst drubbing that night. As far as I know, the Teen's has continued, maybe even still going on as I write this. I'm not sure which is worse: the thumb in the eye or a teen-ager having all his teammates aware that he wrestled against a nine-year-old.
I think if I had the choice, I might choose the thumb in the eye.
Talk to you later!