Father Time is a weekly column dedicated to the concept of time in a parent’s life, particularly a father’s life. The point of view comes from a father of two young sons, both under three-years-old, and how time really is just that: a concept.
Picture this: Saturday, 9:00 PM, Downtown Denver, El Rio Grande Mexican restaurant. Eight men, one of them in a lab coat and huge gag glasses, his eyes peeping through the two O’s in the word Groom across his face. We’d had a few beers and shots in us by then, and asked a server to take our picture.
She obliged, held up one of a few smartphones to take the picture, then stopped and asked, “Wait, is this supposed to be a bachelor party?”
“Yes,” we said, holding our smiles, and holding in the laughs, because, yes, we weren’t your typical pack of twenty-something lads getting the marrying man out for his last night of debauchery, strip clubs and red light districts next on the docket.
No, we were deep into our thirties, some of us already crossed over into the the 40’s, the groom one the last of our gang to marry. In fact, he was the only with us that’s not a father.
Though my best friend’s bachelor weekend was a series of dinners out and bar hopping, we weren’t a group of geezers. Sure, we were a little aged out of the nightclub scene, and didn’t quite garner the attention of co-eds, the way, say, those post-grad bachelors might have the other night. But we did our fair share, guzzled our portion of beer and alcohol, and even slurred our way around a pizza shop at three in the morning. We even went go-kart racing and indoor skydiving, so there.
That weekend, we all liked to think we still had it, but the reality is we share it with wives and kids, ex-wives and step-children. We’re all career men who talk about work like it’s our job, and we pride ourselves on how mature we are in this world that seems to be moving so fast, how we’re the last of the GenX’ers, and don’t have much in common with Millennials, except for these iPhones and our social media.
What this gathering taught me was that we needed it in so many ways, and not just to create a memory for our best friend to remember as he settles down with his bride-to-be. It reminded us that guys need guys’ weekends, no matter how crazy or tame. We need to be around each other to talk about the things we can’t, don’t, or won’t talk about with our wives and children, even if all we talked about all weekend was our wives and children. When we weren’t stealing away from the group to go “check-in” at home, we were more or less counseling each other about life, listening to each other’s victories and struggles, and trying to piece together the distance that literally keeps us apart.
It’s things like bachelor parties that need to happen so that men can spend quality time together. We’re so scattered otherwise, caught up in our work and family lives, that it’s easy to forget the tribal man inside us that must go out on the hunt now and again to keep his skills sharp.
Pete, in our group said it best: “We all know a lot of people, and have a lot of friends, but the thing is, we’re all spread out. Everyone is somewhere else.”
Sunday morning, we lumbered back to the free breakfast at the Hampton Inn, our makeshift frat house for the weekend, and said goodbyes before we all went back to whence we came. The Miller brothers back to Arizona, the Groom back to Philly, the groom’s Denver crew, back to their homes, the reason why we chose Colorado in the first place. And me, of course, back to California. We gave each other those forced but not-so-forced guy hugs, and the “See you at the wedding, man” handshakes. All of us saying, in one way or another, that we’ll need to do this again sometime, but knowing that it may never happen again.
Photo credit: Robert Couse-Baker.