Within the walls of a boy’s childhood home, there’s only one way for a boy to be seen as a man: physically wrestle his father down to the ground and pin him for three seconds.
Just like the coming of age of lions, tigers, and bears, males use playful wrestling matches to exercise, have fun, and show undeniably who is stronger and who should lead the family if ever the house needs to be defended against robbers or angry mobs trying to steal all the food.
But you don’t want to be lame about it! You don’t want to show you’re sweating as you bear hug your 51-year-old father and try to sweep his leg and take him down in a way that won’t actually injure him but will show that you’re not the little kid he used to spank because you wouldn’t go to bed until after Seinfeld was over. You want to be cool about it.
Below is a guide to pinning your dad in a wrestling match but in a cool way:
1. Start things off by shoulder nudging your dad and saying “You think you’re tough, old man?”
Men are naturally afraid of death, so old age is inevitably a big fear of your aging dad. However, in one of life’s most striking paradoxes, all men love to be called “old man.” It’s a sign of respect, a good-natured nod to their experience and authority, and it’s just plain cute. So calling him old man is a way to playfully build up his ego to the point where he’d be willing to wrestle around for a bit, despite his sore joints.
But don’t force it! Being too forward is uncool in any situation and this is no different. If your dad’s in the middle of watching a game or Law & Order, just let him sit. He’ll eventually stir up a sufficient combination of good nature and energy, and that’s when you roll into action.
2. Be firm but gentle
He’s an old man, your father. The goal is to pin him to show that you’re both stronger than him and agile enough to defend the home when society inevitably crumbles. The real challenge comes in being able to do that without destroying his old injured bones or tearing his tissue paper–thin tendons.
Coolness is as much due to what you don’t do as what you do do (like jazz!), so don’t throw punches!
3. Ignore what your mom is shouting from the kitchen
Whatever it is, it can wait. There is an important coming of age ritual going on in the living room that she couldn’t even begin to understand.
If her shouting from the kitchen persists, loosen your grip on the headlock you have your old father in and shout back “Give us a minute, Ma! We’re almost finished.” and then whisper menacingly into your sweating father’s ear, “Ain’t that right, old man?”
4. Don’t believe him when your dad says, “I got ya now!”
Whenever he shifts his weight significantly he’ll mutter this phrase. Don’t be fooled! This is the oldest trick in the old man book. As his body has begun breaking down in his middle age, his mind and manipulation skills have grown that much stronger.
5. Know the difference between your dad’s terrified shrieks of real pain and him faking it.
Another wily veteran move your dad will use liberally is to all of a sudden yell out “AH! My back! Seriously, Kyle, timeout!” And this is where all the advice in the world can’t help you, it’s where the ART of becoming a man enters into the equation. You need to use instincts to recognize when you’re dad is in real physical agony and when he is just doing a goof.
This one’s tough but crucially important because nothing is more uncool than inflicting bodily harm on the ones you love, EXCEPT getting tricked by them and looking like a straight-up gump.
6. Have fun and laugh throughout.
Remember, while this is a very serious stepping stone that you are taking to manhood, it’s also a beautiful opportunity to spend time with a father who, because of his generational values and a childhood of stunted communication development, has a difficult time getting close quality time in with his sons. He is getting older and so are you and, believe it or not, sharing in lighthearted play is something you will look back on fondly and also something he just doesn’t have much time left with. Value that and enjoy it.
Life’s not super serious, dude. Enjoy the good stuff, and when it comes to laughing with your family, it’s all good stuff.
You pinned your dad in a wrestling match, but in a cool way.