Pack your coolers, and go! Guys Weekends are an important time for decompression you just can’t get in regular life.
Work and play are tough to balance. Work too much and life becomes a soul-crushing drag; play too hard and you become stuck inside an amusement park with no exits. Finding the balance is hugely important and can take a lifetime to master. Luckily, we’re not talking about your whole life here—we are talking about a few days. And there’s really no pressure to create absolute harmony on a Guys Weekend; it’s the time when work and play share a bar tab.
For definition’s sake, a Guys Weekend is when a pack of men assemble to spend time away from routine obligations, whether it’s the wife and kids or the endless workweek. Sadly, my oh-so-brief respite from work and domestic responsibility has come and gone. Though it has passed, the relative peace remains and just the thought of a getaway is enough to ease me through life’s more stressful moments. Our destination was a cabin deep in Ashe County, NC, a place that had seen a ton of snow over the previous weeks, and frankly, we had no idea what we would find when we set out into the white unknown of a winter weekend.
If you get a bunch of guys together and the occasion calls for it, it’s easy to get work done. No self-respecting man wants to pull less than his weight and if the group has any personal history, teamwork comes naturally. During our Guys Weekend, teamwork was summoned immediately.
Once we arrived at the house, it was clear that hard work sat firmly in the way of our play. No one had been there in weeks and the driveway was long, steep and covered in deep snow. We initially parked the cars at the foot of the driveway and walked some necessary gear (beer) up to the house—it was a tough walk and the thought of carrying up luggage, coolers, groceries, firewood and a backup television (seriously) was a daunting one.
The decision was made to use the snow shovels we had brought to dig out tire trenches for the vehicles. This arduous task took several hours and the five of us rotated with the snow shovels and bags of salt like a Nordic chain gang. We eventually got both vehicles to the house and the shared feat of endurance unified our group and justified all of the play and idleness that was to come.
My travel companions had an intense love of video games. Personally, I cannot get into modern video games—the graphics are too awesome and the controllers are too complicated, so I get double dumbstruck. I long for the lame simplicity of the Atari 2600 with its stubby joystick and a lone, red button firing on a blocky Centipede. I was encouraged to play Call of Duty on the PS3, a game that places the player in a simulated, kill-or-be-killed war zone. The most I could get my computerized soldier-self to do was bonk repeatedly into a back alley wall and turn and shoot harmlessly at the beige landscape.
My favorite game feature was the death replay that occurred whenever you got killed. I died often in my 10 minutes of video play. I would find myself stumbling helplessly down the alley when suddenly the screen would get splattered with blood—the playback showed the perspective of another soldier who had discovered me stuck in the alley and, assuming I was a mental case, would mercifully gun me down in the street.
I didn’t fare much better with the board game Risk. For those of you who may not know or remember, Risk is a game where players amass troops and attempt to overtake other armies in a quest for world domination. Real wars take less time than a game of Risk. Moreover, the board pieces are small plastic Roman numerals representing troops, so the action is largely symbolic. Plastic Roman numerals are a far cry from the digitized carnage of a modern video game. As the game limped along, I felt a twisted sense of glee as I watched my men dwindle down to lone, Rambo-like soldiers safeguarding entire countries single handedly—I knew the end was near. Over the weekend, I wasn’t surprised to learn that I’m better suited to simple games made for toddlers.
But remember, there was plenty of snow and being outside allowed spontaneous fun to develop: snowball throwing contests, batting practice with snow shovels, cow pasture sledding, and all of the silly things that arise when you have no agenda. There is nothing like watching an otherwise reasonable man run and flop onto a hard, foam sled and ride down a snowy hill with no plan for when or how he will stop. It’s majestic. It’s better than the Olympics.
Once all the reasonable men had their fill of the snow, we would wring out our wet socks and hang them on the porch and return to the wood stove and fridge and Austin Powers Trilogy. Outside then back in, there was an ebb and flow to our work and play, merging to the point where even work-like tasks were pleasant diversions.
The mind and body get a reboot during a Guys Weekend. There’s a vital decompression that occurs that you can’t get at home, no matter how caught up you are with your Honey-Do List. Pack the coolers and go.