***I've never been one of those people who goes out partying on New Year's Eve. Maybe I spent too many years as a child watching the ball drop in Times Square...too many hours watching a million-plus people standing in the frigid cold while chaos reigned around them...and nary a restroom in sight! (I mean, what do those people do for hour after hour, and nowhere to take a potty break? The thought terrifies me! <grin>)
This tradition (of having no tradition) continued when I married my husband, and especially after our boys were born. We typically spent quiet evenings at home, with a bottle of champagne that we'd share after putting the kids to bed. As much as I enjoyed those evenings, in the back of my mind I longed for just a little excitement. Something fun to do...in close proximity to a bathroom!
I got my wish by the time the kids were in school. We had become close friends with some like-minded parents who invited us to gather at their house each year. Their home was warm and welcoming, decorated for Christmas with twinkling lights, scented candles and a stunning tree that reached the ceiling. While the parents played cards and chatted, the kids (about a half a dozen boys and one lone, very brave girl) would retreat to the family room and play video games. Food was delicious and plentiful, and the time passed quickly until the countdown to midnight began. Then we'd all gather in the living room, and when the ball (whose progress we'd monitor on the TV, of course!) dropped, we'd pop the champagne and toast each other.
After exchanging hugs all around, we'd go back to our activities (the kids to their video games, the adults to their cards), more food would be brought to the already groaning table, and eventually we'd head home, sometime between 2 and 3 a.m. At least that's what usually happened.
But one year, about seven or eight years ago, one of the boys, now in his mid-teens, had gone through an enormous growth spurt over the previous summer and fall. By New Year's Eve, he'd reached a height of six feet plus, and a weight of over 200 pounds, and decided to impress the gathered guests with newly discovered brawn. He'd been verbally sparring with our host earlier in the evening, claiming he could pin him (wrestling), a claim which our host laughed off. That wasn't odd; the two had spent a lot of time together in Boy Scouts, and our host had mentored this boy in several areas, so their relationship was close, and I often heard them in spirited discussions. I think that's what gave the boy the courage to do what he did.
It happened just at the stroke of midnight, as the assembled guests strained the limits of the living room, glasses raised in toast to the new year. This boy-man chose that exact moment of distraction to test his theory and launched himself onto our host's back. One of them must have shouted, because we turned as one toward the sound to see the boy-man draped over our host who, somehow, managed to remain upright with this weight on his back, while still holding a full glass of champagne (and never spilling a drop!). Time stopped for a split second while we (the bystanders) sucked in a collective gasp. Then my husband grabbed the host's glass, freeing his hands, and the two began grappling like two kids in a schoolyard.
Their bodies crashed to the floor and rolled toward the tree. We gasped again, and the hostess rushed to move furniture from their path of potential destruction. They struggled some more, grunting and straining, while the rest of us watched, transfixed, half horrified and half wondering just what consequences would befall this boy. Then our host, a man who'd been a star football player in high school, offense and defense, lifted this giant of a "boy" from him, dropped him to the floor, grabbed his arms behind his back, leaned his forearm (and all his weight) into the boy and said, "Now THAT'S how you pin someone."
We still talk about that night, laughing a bit but mostly thankful that no one got hurt, thankful there was no damage, to man, boy...or tree!. But I think it was awhile before our host turned his back on that kid again!
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