Every year my husband goes away for a weekend with his friends. They call it the Ultimate Testosterone Invitational (UTI for short) and plan months in advance to do manly things like golf, deep sea fish, grille, gamble, and drink copious amounts of sub-standard beer while studiously avoiding any mention of their families. They stay in dive motels, tripling the occupancy rate while halving the oxygen level in the bathrooms and end the weekend with the traditional trip to Hooters for their fantasy football draft.
I too have started an annual trip with several girlfriends. However, other than a chance crossover in location, the trips could not be more different. I end the weekend rested, refreshed, and rejuvenated. He comes home hungover, haggard, and hazy. I come home with freshly-painted toes and freshly-popped kettle corn. He, well, does not. They may sound so similar – a trip down the shore – but they are so very, very different.
My weekend was awesome, but to be honest, rather more exercise than I had bargained for. We purposely started one of our mornings with a brisk three-mile walk. For fun! Another day, we walked up 199 steps to see the ocean from the top of a lighthouse. Would you like to know what the ocean looked like from the top of the lighthouse? About the same damn way it looked at ground level. The only difference was the amount of human remains. You see, some complete idjits decided the absolute best moment to grieve and remember the passing of a loved one was to dump their ashes in high wind among a crowd of strangers in the middle of the day at the top of a f’ing lighthouse. We thought, at best, that they were sprinkling good luck salt, or at worst, were dumping coffee grounds. Nope, instead of inhuming their dearly beloved, we were inhaling him.
Though to be honest, there was probably more protein and fiber in that gust of grandpa than there was in a single item I ate the entire weekend. Pizza and pancakes, Chex mix and chocolate chip cookies, burnt bacon and beer, spicy salsa and small ice cream cones – diet was definitely a four-letter word. We were disappointed we forgot to break open the feed bags of popcorn and we complained when our French fries were not liberally coated in cheese. So while I can (and did) grumble about the blisters I developed endlessly walking on the sand and the street, a lovely pedicure soothed my savaged soles and those extra miles helped soften my hardening arteries.
I also learned lots and lots of new things on my weekend away! I learned that children can get fake nails. Big, long, fake ones pained with black tips. (No really!) I learned that no matter how cold you are, you and your friends should never wear matching sweatshirts, even if they are sale, and I learned that no matter how late you want to sleep, your internal body clock cannot be reset. Among other lessons? Semen can be brought into almost any conversation and surly waitresses are as much a staple of breakfast dining as coffee in chipped white mugs. I learned that I can wear pants to bed if necessary, that dolphins are easy to find (I stopped counting at 20), and sun-brewed iced tea mixed with fresh lemonade makes the best Arnold Palmer you have ever tasted.
And finally, I learned that, in the end, it is probably best that my husband and I enjoy separate weekends away. After all, the girls and I never did turn on the television, kick our case, or stay up til midnight. My husband would call that hell, but I call it heaven. With cheese fries.