Saturday, March 01, 2008

What A Hassle

I don’t know how to describe our dinner tonight. I think I may have just thrown a dinner party for my middle son Jack. My wife cooked up a big pot of soup this morning and asked me over a steaming bowlful at lunch if I would like to have anyone over for dinner to enjoy the rest. After a moment’s consideration I picked out a friend who had invited me for a drink last week but that I failed to connect with. A few text messages later and it was all set up.

My friend John arrived just as the steak was going on and he passed a few minutes exchanging small talk with both myself and the short people. Once we sat down to the table though, Jack really took to him. Fortunately he didn’t pull his usual trick of disrobing for the company, instead he politely excused himself to John at least twice a minute to tell him every little thing he could think of.

The thing that really got him, Jack that is, was the hassling. We have a long tradition of intense rough housing after dinner at my house, which we call by the name of “A Good Hassle”. A good hassle is bi-directional and usually ends up in a dog pile with those involved trying not to pee their pants. John got things started while still at the table by offering Jack a thumbs-up. When he took the bait and grabbed the offered thumb, John switched it for his index finger and launched it into Jack’s belly like a missile. It could have gone on for hours.

We sent the kids out to play while we got dessert ready. We thought we’d finally be able to have some grownup conversation, but my little man couldn’t tear himself away from John for more than a minute and brought him all manner of wonders from the toy room before settling on getting out all the pan lids to bang on and wear on his head. The baby followed suit, clever little fella that he is.

It was a forgone conclusion that A Good Hassle was what was required to top off the night. My daughter Olivia returned from a visit with Grandma and Grandpa just in time to take part. It went on for a solid twenty minutes with slight pauses for tears when the tickling got too intense. When John at last extricated himself and started putting his coat on, the shorties formed a barricade at the front door. It took some fancy footwork and a clever diversion, but he finally made it out. Jack immediately started petitioning for him to visit again and Olivia ran straight to the computer to send him an e-mail.

So, to sum up: the tall people got to take on a large helping of fine vittles, but the much hoped-for civilized conversation never materialized. Instead, Jack has a new idol, which is pretty neat. I recall my own childhood encounters with my parents’ friends, being enamored with their style and won over by the not-Mom-and-Dad way they engaged me. It was a pleasant experience to catch on that things had come full circle while it was happening in front of me.

1 comment:

  1. I hope you get some grown up time with your new friend..


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