Jul 19, 2016
My Grandpa Prater's Wrestling Moves
He was a man's man, always doing something with his sons and sons-in law and various friends: hunting, fishing, playing horseshoes, working on cars.
He had a thick Kentucky accent that was virtually incomprehensible, but he didn't say much anyway. When the family gathered in the living room to play cards and exchange gossip, he kept silent unless someone asked him a question. The indoors was uncomfortably stuffy; he'd rather be out with his friends and some dogs on a midnight hunt.
The only time he perked up was when someone asked him to play his banjo. Then he'd play "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" or "Cotton Eyed Joe," as good, and as fast, as the Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs at the Grand Ole Opry.
There was a sadness about him that I didn't pick up on when I was a kid. Something deep and dark, that the little joys of everyday life couldn't penetrate. It wasn't just that he had lost his wife, three older brothers, and four of his eleven children. It was a dream deferred, a hope from his childhood that he abandoned.
More about that later.
I have two erotic stories about Grandpa Prater. The first is about judo.
The summer after fifth grade. We're all at the farmhouse, but my brother and Cousin Buster are off somewhere, so I'm the only kid. Dad and my uncles are up by the Old House, playing horseshoes. I'm not allowed because I'm too little. I don't necessarily like horseshoes, but I like hanging out with the men, especially when my only other option is sitting in the farmhouse with my Mom and aunts, gossipping about who did what with whom thirty years ago.
I'm wandering aimlessly through the side yard and the rhubarb patch when Grandpa Prater appears, wraps his huge paw around my shoulder, and says "I hear you're taking wrestling."
(I'm not going to try to transliterate his incomprehensible Kentucky accent. Use your imagination.)
"Judo?" He repeats the unfamiliar word. "Did you know I was a wrestler in high school?"
He takes my hand and leads me up the hill toward the Old House. It's difficult to understand him, but by interrupting with many questions, I get the gist of his story:
In the Kentucky hills in the 1920s, it was unusual to go past the eighth grade, but the adolescent Tony (who I assume looked like this) was smart as a whip, so his parents allowed him to go on through twelfth grade at Salyersville High School. His best subject was music -- he wanted to be a singer like on the Grand Ole Opry. That got the bullies riled, so to prove that he was a he-man, he went out for wrestling and boxing, too.
I have that problem! At Denkmann, raising your hand too often or getting high grades on too many tests drew the ire of Mean Boys.
By now we are on top of the hill, in the men-only zone behind the Old House. Dad asks, "Wanna join us, Tony?"
He doesn't ask me.
"Well, sure, but right now Boomer's going to show you all his judo moves."
I'm what? Try to throw someone who is twice as tall as me, and a solid mass of muscle? And my grandpa? I don't think so!
But Dad and my uncles are gathered around to watch the show.
"C'mon, you can't hurt me. I'm strong as an ox. I was wrestling guys before your Daddy was born."
Sighing, I grab Grandpa by the shoulder and hip and try the easiest throw, basically tripping your opponent. To my surprise, he goes down easily and pulls me on top of him.
"Dagnabit, you did it!" he exclaims. "That there judo is powerful stuff. Now pin me. Come on, pin me to the ground!"
I scamper on top of him, feeling his hard firm chest, smelling his Aqua Velva cologne and hint of whiskey, and press his arms over his head.
He pushes his arms down and slides me down his trunk, as easily as one might push off a pair of pants. I feel his hard belly and the mass of his crotch.
"Well, your pinning needs some work, but other than that, you're a natural. Hear that, Frank? You sign this boy up for wrestling!"
Dad grins at me as if I've achieved a major goal. And maybe I have. "C'mon, Boomer," he says, "Play horseshoes with us. You're old enough now."
I did go out for wrestling a year later, when I started junior high.
The next erotic story about my grandpa involves sneaking into his bedroom in the middle of the night.
The uncensored story, with nude photos, is on Tales of West Hollywood.