So I took a brief hiatus. Sorry. I’m back. I know you missed me.
Oddly, site traffic didn’t really slow. Maybe less really is more or, as Owen’s good friend Lightning McQueen says, you have to turn left to go right sometimes.
Anyway, the reason for my departure is why I write tonight. See, I should have said this before, but I was away this past weekend participating in the single coolest example of friendship I – or pretty much anyone I know – has ever heard about. I’ll leave out all the details to protect the semi-innocent.
But for one weekend a year, a group of buddies and I get away for a weekend on the Cape. Yes, they are all guys. Yes, we go to the Cape in the dead of winter. And, yes, this has been going on now for 12 years. Yup, a dirty dozen. Fantastic.
It started when me and my roommate at the time were chatting one boring day as fall turned to winter in 1995. We were young, single and bored. We had plenty of places to drink and hang in the summer but wanted a winter getaway – basically, a change of scenery.
So off we went that early winter of 1996. We drank too much, played (gulp) tackle football, played (double gulp) The Century Club and generally just beat ourselves silly. Details, again, are being closely guarded. We didn’t think much of it when we did it the following year, and the year after, and the year after.
Pretty soon, somebody got married, then another, then someone got divorced, then someone else, a baby or two showed up, we bought houses, a few guys lost their dads, someone had to move away for work, etc., etc. We still drink a bit too much, play football (though we’ve downgraded to flag football after two guys broke bones), have moved to 3-Man or play some cards, have a first class meal, pull out the guitars and, of course, do a lot of laughing. This is typically how we learn about major changes in employment, job misery, spousal problems and, as with this weekend, the pending arrival of another child.
Over time, the weekend changed – not so much in substance, but in meaning. We were no longer just looking for a change of scenery for our debauchery. Now this was our weekend to reconnect, to rebond and to let loose the chains of the working stiff for 72-hours of, well, youthful indiscretions (the legal kind, thank you).
So that’s where I was Friday through Sunday. Of course, I was welcomed back with several late nights and long days at work – check the headlines, they’ll do a better job explaining than I will.
Anyway, it’s a fabulous tradition that we are sure to keep up. We’re already making big plans for year 20 (I’m suggesting Vegas, baby). Every year we mention in passing that we should invite a Cape Cod Times reporter along or something and tell people about our little tradition. Every year the wives/girlfriends complain a bit but admit after that they are not-so-secretly jealous of our tradition and our friendships.
Along the way this year, that friend I mentioned who dreamed this all up with me told us to check out this story on CBS the other night.
It’s a bunch of 70-somethings who have been getting together regularly to play cards for 50-odd years. Fifty years. Holy good God. One of them remarked that the cards were irrelevant, they were there for the friendship. They had the marriages, kids, houses. Now they are going through the loss of spouses and one of them has Alzheimer’s. So what do they do? One of them sits out every hand to help Charlie play.
Katie Couric remarked that not many people can claim friendships so long-lasting. She’s right.
Except I know 15 or so guys who, in a few more years, will all be able to say they can claim friendships that long-lasting. And it’s a truly special thing.