No matter how much we love the women and children in our lives, all men need male bonding time every now and then, primo moments when we fart, belch, tell crude jokes and generally just be a guy. My time comes once a year on a weekend baseball trip with several other guys, both old friends and new.
This year, we hopped onboard an Amtrak at Union Station in Chicago and headed to St. Louis for a Cardinals-Cubs game. OK. We really went for the farting, belching and bawdy humor. We could have been heading to the Bowling Hall of Fame. The baseball game was just the excuse for a weekend away from mowing lawns, fixing leaky faucets and tending to other facets of family life.
One guy brings his young son on our weekend trips for their own personal brand of male bonding. But for the rest of us, our once-a-year weekend away is a chance to keep up the testosterone levels. We act a little raunchier than we otherwise would. We tell jokes that are a little more off color. We flirt with any available woman who will let us. It all adds up to a sense of adventure.
Male Bonding Over Beer and Boobs
Traveling unencumbered by kids and wives, we go where we want–to Anheiser Busch for a brewery tour, to Hooters for dinner, to a music venue for live music late into the night where we observe the ritual of drunk girls dancing. We wander around town, not really knowing what we might find around any given corner. Infused with a sense of adventure, when we see something that looks like fun, we try it.
Indulging in Train Travel
In past years, we’ve piled into my Dodge Durango and set off for Pittsburgh or Minneapolis or Detroit. But this year, we opted for Amtrak. I don’t think we’ll ever go back to driving.
The train trip was an adventure in itself. I felt like I had stepped back into the 1950s, when trains were the preferred mode of transportation. Contrary to Amtrak’s not-so-great reputation, our train arrived on time in St. Louis and even arrived a few minutes early on the trip home. Onboard, the small town scenery was mesmerizing, the food was surprisingly good, the coffee was remarkably good, and the staff was unfailingly professional and efficient.
Exploring St. Louis
Being a car guy, I was a little concerned about being in a strange city without wheels. But St. Louis is such a compact, easily navigable town that we walked everywhere. Good thing too. With all that we ate and drank, we needed those long walks in between.
Our hotel, The Mayfair, was an elegant Grand Dame of a hotel about a mile or so from the train station. It was centrally located, within easy walking distance of the Arch, Busch Stadium, and Hooters. Only the brewery tour was far enough to require a cab.
Of Hooters and Home
Now, a word about Hooters. It wasn’t my idea to eat there, but I wasn’t about to complain. When I told my wife the food was good, she replied, “Isn’t that like claiming you buy Playboy magazine to read the articles?” But the food was not only good, but surprisingly good. And our well-endowed waitress was surprisingly bright. When she posed with her arm around my friend’s 10-year-old son, every guy in the joint wished she would pose that way with them.
All in all, it always feels a little weird being on a trip without my family. Over the weekend, I spent plenty of time calling and texting my wife to tell her what I was doing. (Did I text her about Hooters? I can’t remember.) But I was having way too much fun to miss them enough to get on a plane and come home.
Scott Fisher, a contractor by day and trombone player by night, is more of a Chicago Bears football fan, thanks to his wife, Cindy Richards, editor-in-chief of TravelingMom.com. Reach him online at http://www.scottfishercarpentry.com.