Throughout my tedious, all-boy private high school years, I was teased unmercifully because my classmates thought I was gay. It was the early 90’s, when the bullying, teasing and name-calling happened face to face not on Twitter. I take some semblance of comfort in that.
With no male friends and even fewer girlfriends during those looong four years of high school, I was an easy mark. It didn’t help my cause that I was fat, thoroughly unhip, a sports fan but not at all athletic, and that I flatly refused to talk about girls and the female anatomy the way my classmates did.
The teen boy hazing and teasing was inevitable but oddly enough, I never cared and, thankfully, never allowed it change me one iota. I had a loving family, two amazing parents, a warm and welcoming home to return to every afternoon, baseball on the radio to fall asleep with, and eventually, the thriving indie rock scene (via local college radio) with which I could escape the mainstream high school crap.
If I was inclined to use the word I’d say that I was blessed to not turn my hideous high school experience into the opposite extreme, one of being fiercely DUDE and stereotypically homophobic.
I can and do put my arm another other guy, hug tightly, and tell him I love him.
In fact, I find myself saying that a lot these days which flies in the opposite direction of this terrific Boston Globe story on middle age male isolation. I’m lucky in that I feel as though I’m in my glory days of male friendship. I hang out locally with friends and even travel on a semi-regular basis to spend time with my long-distance guy friends. I did the latter earlier this month, just booked a weekend with guy friends in Atlanta for the fall, and traveled to Detroit to do the same at the end of 2016. Here’s how and why I planned that epic guy’s getaway winter weekend with a friend.
When it came to pitch and plan a guy’s weekend, the one I wrote about back in December here on Traveling Dad, there was never any hesitation. It’s not weird at all to go away and stay in the same room with another fella or 11 (as was the case in bunkhouses across England when a dozen of us hiked across England to honor a man we all loved dearly). There’s that word again: love.
The first thing I needed to do was convince my friend Josh that he HAD NO CHOICE but to convince his wife and kids that he HAD NO CHOICE but to travel to Detroit in the dead of winter to meet up with another guy and watch an otherwise meaningless regular season hockey game. An easy sell, really 😉
Once he was able to lock down things on his end, I set out to make our weekend a reality.
First, we went back and forth on dates when he could escape his day job and when I could be away from my main job of school day transport, then cross referenced those spots on the calendar with the home schedule of our beloved Detroit Red Wings. Bam, December 9th against the Philadelphia Flyers. That works. We’ll fly in the day before, out the day after. Airfare is reasonable on both ends and suddenly the biggest piece of this puck-shaped pie was booked. We are well on our way to making his dream of seeing the Red Wings live and at home inside Joe Louis Arena come true. Two guys, one hockey game, a lot of smiling and hugging.
Next, I needed to get us a hotel because I promised, as a sweetener to make this happen on his end, to cover the cost of lodging. Naturally then, I needed it to be as cheap as possible to sell it on my end, to my wife who makes roughly 66.67% of the money for our family. Not that she loves it when I am away from her and the kids, and god knows I’ve been away often lately, but she knew exactly what she was marrying into with me and the Red Wings, and also has come to learn that I am a pretty good friend who will, when I can, go to almost any length to make things happen for people I respect and love.
Josh is one of those friends.
And so is Doug, who happens to live within a shout of Detroit. Doug loves Josh too. So much love in the mitten of Michigan.
We made plans to hang out with him at yet another hockey game, this time in Ann Arbor since both of our flights will arrive in time to see the University of Michigan do battle with Big Ten rivals Wisconsin at the gorgeous Yost Ice Arena on U of M’s gorgeous campus. More smiles. More hugs.
I used some of my Marriott points for our first night, at the Courtyard in Dearborn after a late night in Ann Arbor with Doug, and the free night certificate I get every year thanks to the Marriott credit card to stay high up in the Marriott Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit. That hotel gave us the short, scenic, snowy walk along the Detroit river to Joe Louis Arena so that Josh could get the experience of walking with other red and white clad fans into and out of the game.
In the end, there was much hugging and smiling indeed, which started at the airport when we first saw each other, even though our Red Wings lost (didn’t even score a goal, in fact). The weekend I planned for two guys to go away together came off without a hitch.
As a people, we’ve never been more connected to each other than we are right now but app to app interaction can feel empty, soulless and leave us feeling more alone than ever. To fight against this isolation of constant internet connectivity, I wholeheartedly recommend that you reach out to a friend and make plans to go see a movie, have a bite to eat together, or book a guy’s getaway weekend somewhere fun to enjoy each other’s company. Smile, hug, and share in something tangible that cannot be replicated online.
It’s not weird. It’s essential to being truly happy.