No matter where I have lived, in states on the east coast to states in the west, it seems that every small community has a tradition in common, and that is to have a daddy-daughter date each year. But that is about where the similarity ends. When I was in a bigger city in New York, the daddy-daughter date was a time when the fathers and daughters would dress up and have a nice, formal dinner at the local church.
These were planned by the girls and contained quite a few things that girls enjoy. They included talks about what it means to be a girl, new ways to do hair and new trends in fashion. These talks would be going on while the only thought on the fathers’ minds was if there was any cake left and if anyone would notice if it was missing from the kitchen.
However, living in a small, farming community, things are quite different. When the girls get together, the first thing they do is to nix anything formal. No girl would be caught dead dressing up for a night with her father. That’s why, when my daughters brought home the invitation, I was only half surprised.
“Please join us for a Daddy-Daughter Date Pig Wrestling Contest - Prizes Will Be Awarded”
Of course, there were only two questions on my mind: what the prizes would be, and would there be refreshments? My daughters weren’t sure. Still, it was a competition, and I’m nothing if I’m not competitive.
That night, as we headed to the designated spot, there were signs along the route announcing, “Pig Wresting, This Direction”. When we arrived, we found huge straw bales had been stacked around a small enclosure with dirt pushed up around the outside. The center was filled with water, which turned it into a mud- filled arena.
The girls’ leaders suggested we eat the treats they supplied before we had the contest, figuring that we wouldn’t want to after. By the time we finished, and the contest was ready to start, a good-size crowd had formed. Some were people we knew, members of the community stopping to watch, but others were complete strangers, curious to find out what the signs along the road were all about.
Before we started, the lady in charge announced the rules. “When I give the signal, the father-daughter team will capture the pig and put it into the barrel in the center of the ring. Prizes will be given for the fastest time.”
“Hey!” I said. “I thought we dads were just going to watch while our daughters wrestled the pigs by themselves.”
“Fat chance!” one of the women said. “And you, Mr. Howard, should win, because you get three chances.”
That was the first time that I considered that I did have three daughters in the group, and no one else had more than one.
My first attempt wasn’t too successful. I went for the pig, but he moved and I pretty much face-planted into the mud. But we eventually wrestled him, wriggling and squealing, into the barrel.
My turns with my daughters were spaced evenly throughout the night, so by the time my last daughter and I entered the ring, I had a lot of experience under my belt, along with plenty of mud. The pig was also tired, and pretty much climbed into the barrel by himself. We ended up with the best time at 12.2 seconds, and won the Miss Piggy award scrub brush decorated like a pig.
Now that it is over for another year, I just need to figure out how I can add “Pig Wrestling Champion” to my bleak résumé.