Lower Hand

     It was a hot August night.  A Wednesday.  Three nights before my wedding.  My best man Mark Haycock threw me a bachelor party.  Mark is dead now.  A sizable inheritance, he bought an artist’s loft in Seattle and quit his engineering job at Boeing.  Mark was brilliant with oils and acrylics, but too critical of his work and the world.  He ended his life with a shotgun to his mouth.  

     Around 7:30, fifty sober alcoholic men and a stragglers arrived at the Tropicana on Western for my marital send off.

     I’d never been to a joint like that.  Once inside, I was embarrassed and excited.  It felt similar to my first trip to Disneyland. 

    Like the theme park, the girly club had elements of fantasy and costume.  I liked the leggy gal dressed up like a farmer’s daughter.  She went by Little Bo Peep and wore a short blue checkered skirt, a plain white blouse, and knee socks.  Her blonde hair was in pigtails. 

     Some of the other favorites were the Black Dalia Desiree, Geisha Gwendolyn, and Veronica the vixen. 
     The Dalia was a colored girl dressed in black leotards.  Top to bottom.  She had painted eyes and long false eyelashes that sparkled. 

    Gwendolyn was wrapped in a makeshift silk kimono.  Makeshift because of numerous slits and openings in the fabric unlike the attire I’d seen at the Kabuki.  She’d a lot of skin showing and her face wasn’t painted white. 

     Veronica was done up in red leather lederhosen and carried something in her hand that resembled a weapon.  Her lipstick matched her skin tight yodeling ensemble and long, pointy, stiletto heels.   

     When the boys started throwing one dollar bills around, nearly all hell broke loose.  Me and Bo Peep’s lips never met, nor did we actually touch, but like I said, nearly all hell broke loose. 

    An hour or so into the affair the auction began.  Mud wrestling rights were sold off to the highest bidder.  With an army more than fifty man strong, I was a shoe in. 

     Money was laid down and I was sent upstairs to the changing room. I was given a pair of house swimming trunks but little else.  No rules, no instructions, no coaching.  I’d never wrestled with a women before, at least not officially, and certainly not in a ring with mud soaked Styrofoam cubes. 

     I was determined to win.  But didn’t know that victory had nothing to do with half nelsons, strangleholds, or scissor locks. 

     “What are you doing?” Said my adversary half way into the match.  

     I looked at her confused.  Yes there was mud dripping from my forehead into both my eyes, but I could clearly see I’d executed a clean body slam. 

    “Wrestling,” I said.  “And I I’m winning,” I gloated.

     Twenty four years later I’m still married.  And thank God I finally learned who has the upper hand.